mobile app bar

‘Michael Jordan-Nike Deal’ Influencer George Raveling’s Insane $3 Million Martin Luther King Encounter

Samir Mehdi

‘Michael Jordan-Nike Deal’ Influencer George Raveling’s Insane $3 Million Martin Luther King Encounter

Michael Jordan making a full 180 and ditching Adidas for Nike was something nobody in the shoe industry had expected. Jordan himself said that he preferred Adidas over any other company and only wore Converse because UNC was a Converse university. The one man who urged MJ to take up a meeting with Nike and give it consideration before anybody else was George Raveling, who’s played by Marlon Wayans in the movie ‘Air’.

George Raveling was an instrumental figure in snagging Jordan away from the German conglomerate and bringing him up to Portland, Oregon. He served as an assistant coach for Team USA basketball during the 1984 Olympics and in that time he built up a solid rapport with the 6’6 shooting guard.

Despite Raveling’s pleas regarding him trying out Nike (he was close to Sonny Vaccaro who was a talent scout for Nike), Michael didn’t seem to budge. Initially that is. Sonny convincing Deloris and James Jordan on a meeting is what kickstarted Nike’s ambitious pursuit for the UNC alum.

George Raveling was offered $3 million for his Martin Luther King Jr speech

While Sonny Vaccaro was convinced that he wanted to get Michael Jordan on board, he was on the fence about bypassing David Falk, MJ’s agent, and talking directly to his parents. However, after he met George Raveling at a bar in California, he knew what he had to do.

The reason for this is due to Raveling’s riveting story regarding the time he had gone to see Martin Luther King Jr’s iconic ‘I have a dream’ speech in the summer 1963 as depicted in the movie ‘Air’.

Raveling was mesmerized by MLK’s speech and after he had heard him finish it, he approached him and showered him with adoration. In turn, MLK would smile and give him the piece of paper that had his speech written on it.

After returning home, Raveling would look through the paper and try to find his favorite line from the speech: ‘I have a dream’. He tells Sonny that he couldn’t find it and the reason for that was because he realized that Martin Luther King had improvised one of the greatest speeches of all time.

Essentially, George was telling Sonny that he didn’t feel like going to see the speech but did so anyway due to a gut feeling. If Sonny feels the same way about meeting the Jordans then he should act on it.

Raveling was offered $3 million for this piece of paper but he never agreed to put it on sale. As time has gone on, this speech most certainly has increased in value.

Michael Jordan credits George Raveling for bringing him to Nike

Michael Jordan, while he has an immense amount of respect for Sonny Vaccaro and has a great relationship with everybody at Nike, he gives a ton of credit to George Raveling for recruiting him to Nike.

Raveling once also told Sonny that there was no chance that Michael would ever sign with Nike even if they give him his favorite red Mercedes 380SL. Of course, as history would dictate, he would eventually sign with Nike and get his car in the process.

About the author

Samir Mehdi

Samir Mehdi


Samir Mehdi is a senior strategist for the NBA division at The Sportsrush. Ever since he was 13 years old, he’s been obsessed with the game of basketball. From watching Kobe Bryant’s highlights on YouTube to now, analyzing and breaking down every single game on League Pass, Samir’s passion for the game is unwavering. He's a complete basketball junkie who not only breaks down current games but also keenly watches ones from the 60s’ and 70s’ while also reading comprehensive books on the history of the league. Samir’s life revolves around basketball and he hopes that shows in his work. Aside from work, he loves to spend time in the gym and with his friends at social gatherings.

Read more from Samir Mehdi

Share this article