mobile app bar

Michael Jordan did not want a “$164 billion” company’s logo on his shoes 

Jeet Pukhrambam

Michael Jordan did not want a "$164 billion" company's logo on his shoes

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.

Also read: Michael Jordan earned $1.3 billion off just 5% of Jordan brand’s earnings!”: How a $1.8 billion-worth Bulls legend makes his money from his and Nike’s brainchild

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.

Also read: Charles Barkley recalls an incident of Michael Jordan betting $300,000 during 1 insane day on the golf course

About the author

Jeet Pukhrambam

Jeet Pukhrambam


Jeet Pukhrambam is The SportsRush's Lead Editor for Basketball. After freelancing for five years as an independent writer, Jeet created thousands of blog posts and articles. He now covers intriguing news reports and throwback stories on all things NBA. His interest in NBA started with the ascendancy of Giannis Antetokounmpo in the 2016-17 season. Since then, Jeet has managed to coalesce his knowledge of the game and his writing to create pieces that are reflective of the current state of the league. Now, he ensures that The SportsRush produces the highest quality of writing. In his free time, he enjoys playing football, cooking, traveling, and dancing to techno. Jeet takes pride in his critical thinking, music playlists, and his love for spaghetti.

Read more from Jeet Pukhrambam

Share this article