Michael Jordan did not want a “$164 billion” company’s logo on his shoes
|Thu Jul 07 2022
Michael Jordan almost left his beloved Nike and for some reason, he didn’t join until Tinker Hatfield decided to remove the logo.
Michael Jordan’s love story with Nike is as iconic as it gets. But at one point, he was sure of leaving and the only they kept him was by removing their logo from the shoe!
Yes, a brand kept around a sponsored athlete by taking their own logo in favor of his. This is the story of how Nike created the Jumpman subdivision and why it was one of the smartest moves in business.
So, let’s travel back in time to 1987, Michael Jordan and the Nike brand are at crossroads. The chief designers for the Nike Air Jordans are set to leave the company and they want to poach MJ. Trouble in Paradise.
So, what does Nike do? They enlist the help of Tinker Hatfield. Tinker flies down to see Mike and figure out what kind of shoe he wants. But, not everything was smooth sailing between Nike and Jordan.
9) With MJ ready to leave Nike, Phil Knight called in Tinker Hatfield to present his design.
But here’s the best part.
Despite being told no by Nike, Hatfield designed the Air Jordan III with the Jumpman logo instead of the patented Nike Swoosh.
“No one knew I was doing that.” pic.twitter.com/YLw1dWFq8t
— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) June 30, 2022
Michael Jordan asked Phil Knight, “Show me what you got!” while threatening to leave Nike!
Nike wouldn’t be the multi-billion dollar brand it is today without the presence of Michael Jordan. So, when there was trouble in the water, they did everything they could to keep him. However, the real stroke of genius was yet to come.
Nike had 5 weeks to design and present the Air Jordan III. Tinker personally asked Mike what he wanted, and the answer was simple. A mid-top shoe with exotic print leather.
But within three weeks, Michael was meeting up with the two shoe designers who departed the company and they even pitched him their new apparel and sneaker brand.
Michael Jordan told Phil Knight, “Show me what you got!“. The threat was real and it was clear. So, how did Nike keep him on board?
Enter Tinker Hatfield.
The removal of Nike’s logo in favor of the Jumpman: The birth of the Jordan brand
When Tinker presented MJ with the shoe, the most noticeable thing about the design was the lack of the swoosh, something Nike had specifically told him to keep.
Tinker hid the idea from everyone until the presentation. Hatfield proceeded to give a pitch about creating a brand centered around the Jumpman logo. Naturally, Jordan loved the idea. Create a brand instead of collecting checks.
This moment in time demarcated the birth of the Jordan brand. It also announced Hatfield’s arrival as a shoe designer. Both have become legendary names in the apparel and footwear world since.
The iconic dunking image on this article was performed while wearing the Air Jordan IIIs. It is considered the most iconic silhouette of the brand, just after the AJ1s.