Michael Jordan, the best basketball player of all time, made his NBA debut on 26th October 1984, rocking a new brand of shoes, Nike.
On this very day, 37-years ago Michael Jeffrey Jordan, would debut in the NBA to make it the association’s best day ever. Be it popularity, culture, the enthusiasm with which a player plays the game, Michael changed everything there is to the game of basketball.
Coming out as a number 3 draft pick behind Hakeem Olajuwon and Sam Bowie, Jordan took the league by the storm since his debut day. There were huge expectations since his day 1 at the office.
Jordan came into the league with a shoe deal that was bigger than any other NBA player’s deal.
Michael Jordan’s 5-year deal with Nike was NBA’s best sneaker deal
Before Jordan’s deal with Nike, James Worthy had the best shoe deal. He had the league’s first-ever 1-million deal, which he would earn over 8 years. Jordan bettered it to earn a million in 2 years without even stepping foot on an NBA court.
At the time when Converse was the best basketball shoe company. They represented every big name like Dr. J, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird. Jordan took a gamble signing with a company called Nike, which just made track shoes in the 80s.
That gamble would eventually make “His Airness” a billionaire and Nike the best sports merchandise brand in the world. Although Jordan did well signing with Nike, over Converse who “couldn’t envision Jordan being put ahead of Larry and Magic” at the time, and rightfully so.
37 YEARS AGO TODAY 🐐
MICHAEL JORDAN signed with Nike ($500K/year for 5 years) & made his NBA debut: 16 PTS, 7 AST, 6 REB, 4 BLK, 2 STL
All-NBA 2nd team
Rookie of the Year
28.2 PTS, 6.5 REB, 5.9 AST, 2.4 STL, 52% FGpic.twitter.com/F9DV7JwG3B
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) October 26, 2021
But that wasn’t what he had planned to do. He wanted to sign with another brand.
Michael Jordan had his preference set and didn’t want to sign with Nike
Michael had his doubts over Nike as they were not making basketball shoes then. He wanted to sign for Adidas, his agent after getting a passive response from Adidas, along with Jordan’s parents planned against the Bulls legend to get him signed with Nike.
David Falk, who represented Jordan from 1984 to 2003 wanted him to sign with Nike once told,
“Adidas was really dysfunctional by that time,” says Falk, “And they had just told me, ‘We’d love to have Jordan. We just can’t make a shoe work at this point in time.’
“I wanted Michael to go with Nike because they were the upstart.”
Jordan, who was 21 at the time, was stubborn.
“I couldn’t even get him to get on the damn plane and go visit the Nike campus,” recalled Falk. “So I called his parents.”
And so the greatest deal in the sports would be signed then. As part of the deal, Jordan also got his own shoe line, “Air Jordan”.
“Nike’s expectation when we signed the deal was, at the end of year four, they hoped to sell $3 million worth of Air Jordans,” says Falk. “In year one, we sold $126 million.”
What Michael Jordan and Nike did together will never be repeated, neither in the NBA nor in any other sport. Air Jordans still earns far more than LeBron James does with his shoe deal with Nike and other top athletes like Messi and Ronaldo aren’t even close to James.