The notion of Michael Jordan aligning with the Three Stripes may initially seem as improbable as Donald Trump donning a Jheri curly hairstyle. Yet, history reveals a surprising twist. There was a time when Jordan’s loyalty did not solely lie with the Swoosh. Little-known to many, prior to his NBA stardom, Jordan actually sported the Adidas Superstars during his junior league days. His affinity for the Superstar silhouette was so strong that he was inclined to sign a professional contract with Adidas. However, for reasons unbeknownst to most, the German sports brand chose not to extend the offer, a decision that undoubtedly left Adidas management with lingering regrets throughout the years.
You can see Jordan is an adidas man, and he stubbornly wore his favorite sneakers when he was on the big show. All of which begs the question: what would the sneaker game look like if Michael followed his heart to Adi’s Herzogenaurach headquarters.
The Jordan brand is an integral part of sports culture. But in the most recent episode of The Last Dance, an eight-part documentary on ESPN chronicling Jordan’s career and 1997-98 season with the Bulls, Jordan and others detailed just how close it was. not occur. Gary Stokan, president and CEO of the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, and a former NC State basketball player and coach, worked for Adidas at the time. He joined The OG on Monday to talk about how close Jordan actually came to signing with Adidas instead of Nike, and how the shoe world might have been different if he had.
Jordan spoke in the documentary about how much he liked Adidas shoes at the time. He and teammate and roommate Buzz Peterson wore Adidas, even though North Carolina still had a contract with Converse. As a result, Stokan got to know Jordan and during the tests at the 1984 Olympics, Jordan wore Adidas. Jordan signed David Falk not long after he decided to turn professional. Falk got James Worthy the NBA’s first multi-million dollar shoe contract, and he spoke in the documentary about how much he wanted Jordan to sign a massive shoe deal.
Jordan loves Adidas. He doesn’t even want to see Nike. But as detailed in the documentary, his mother Deloris convinced him to go see the start-up company and at least hear what they had to say. They have the right pitch for him, and Falk and Jordan’s father both want him to sign for Nike immediately. But Jordan hesitated and still preferred Adidas shoes.
This could be the end of Nike when in 1984, business was not good in Beaverton. Swoosh was shaken after its first quarterly profit slide last year. Once a brand for heavy-duty runners, Nike is now slim. Court sports are the best-selling items, but sales are falling, especially for basketball. Stock prices are falling, and Wall Street’s message to hardcore Nike stockholders is “Just sell!” Reebok currently dominates the market with its all-white leather Freestyles by Crockett and Tubbs.
Gary Stokan, president and CEO of the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, and a former NC State basketball player and coach, worked for Adidas at the time. He joined The OG on Monday to talk about how close Jordan actually came to signing with Adidas instead of Nike, and how the shoe world might have been different if he had.
“Unfortunately, the Germans at the time were not well versed in basketball and the Adidas market, and that cost them dearly.”
Stokan says Nike’s margins are slightly better than Adidas’ because it makes shoes cheaply in other countries while Adidas owns its own manufacturing companies. But even with that, Nike was still a struggling company at the time. Stokan credits their brand revival to the take-off of Jordan’s shoes, which, Stokan believes, saved the business and brought us to where we are today with Nike as a dominant corporation.
“All within four years — greatest college football player ever, greatest basketball coach ever, greatest NBA player ever Now, I was basically ready to go and unfortunately Adidas let Mike go and Adidas didn’t sign Michael Jordan,” Stokan said. “Painful. The biggest regret I have in my business career is losing Michael Jordan to Nike.”
Until the very end.
“Michael told the story I just told you, but only he ended it with” Yes, and Gary didn’t think I could play and that’s why he didn’t sign with Adidas . “That’s right, that’s it – I got Michael ready to go and Adidas just didn’t spend the money. The Europeans didn’t know that the shoe war was going to take place in the US and they made the biggest mistake they could have ever made,” Stokan said.
And as fate would have it, Michael Jordan signed with their arch-rival. The contract is the beginning of what has proven to be the strongest, most enduring partnership between a sports star and a sports brand throughout history.
When Jordan was the only rookie to be voted into the All-Star Game, things suddenly took a turn for the worse as MJ rocked a player version featuring a distinctive Chi tone with tight red and black stripes. player. Banned by the NBA for being too different for schools, the limited-edition All-Star Jordans became the object of street sport’s most desired. People queued overnight at Foot Locker stores in 14 cities, an unprecedented phenomenon.
“Nike’s expectation is that by the end of year 4, they’re hoping to sell $3 million in Air Jordans,” Falk said. ‘In the first year, we sold $126 million.’
The Air Jordan, a concept created by Jordan himself, has surpassed basketball and become one of the most famous shoes of all time.
The 57-year-old last played for the Bulls was in 1999 but in December his brand made its first quarter $1 billion.
“Adidas owns its manufacturing companies. It actually owns the production buildings and everything. So our profit margin wasn’t as good as Nike’s back then. But even if that were the case, if we had sold $50 million worth of Air Jordan or Adidas products if Michael had signed us, it would have taken Nike out of business. They may never get their capital back, never had the $126 million Michael provided, and never built the brand the way they built it,” Stokan said. “So Nike may be over”