September 25, 2020 3 min read

Michael Jordan. Widely regarded as the Greatest basketball player of all time. With a list of accolades such as 6x NBA Champion, 6x NBA Finals MVP, 14X NBA All-Star, 5x NBA MVP, 3X All-Star Game MVP, 10X All NBA first team, Defensive player of the year, Rookie of the Year, 10x NBA Scoring Champion and 3x NBA Steals leader, it is very understandable why so. Although he had an illustrious NBA career, the majority of Jordan’s wealth has been accumulated by his endorsement deal with Nike, initially providing a signature shoe which would eventuate to having a Jordan brand become a subsidy of Nike. But before we get to that, let’s go back to the beginning.

After Michael Jordan’s luxurious stint at the University of North Carolina, where he hit the famous shot to win them the 1982 NCAA Championship, he was hot property coming into the NBA.

Going into the 1984 NBA Draft, Jordan was a highly touted lottery player, and eventually ended up going pick #3 to the Chicago Bulls, a team that was struggling early on. But that was all about to change.

After the draft, Jordan signed a 5-year deal with Nike worth $500,000 as well as rights to his own signature shoe. Although, we all know it was just the start of a lifetime endorsement.


Early within Jordan’s rookie season, he was quickly established as an excellent scoring presence and quickly became a crowd favorite due to his exciting play style, ability to change games and defensive prowess. In his rookie season, Jordan averaged 28.2 points per game, was voted an All-Star Starter and also won NBA Rookie of the Year, whilst also leading the Chicago Bulls to a 38-44 regular season record and a playoff birth, where they fell in the first round.

(Business Insider)

With such an excellent start to his career, the deal he made with Nike that was once seen as a risk for Nike, or even a gamble, was now proving to be a strongly paying off investment. In November 1984, the first pair of Air Jordan’s was released, and after Jordan’s rookie season, Nike had sold $126 Million dollars’ worth of shoes. This was $123 million dollars more than what the projected sales for Air Jordan’s were for the first 4 years of Michaels Nike deal. Isn’t that crazy?

Further on as Jordan’s career began to shape, leading his Chicago Bulls to be repeat playoff performers throughout the late 80’s, Jordan’s sales of Nike shoes continued to go through the roof.

In the 1991 NBA season, Jordan overcame the team that had been holding him back for so many years, the Detroit Pistons, and made it to the NBA Finals. Even better, they swept them. Further on, Jordan pushed the Bulls to an NBA Championship that season, starting the beginning of a run that would lead to 6 championships in 8 years and pushing Jordan further beyond the superstar status that he already had to the G.O.A.T. Nike, an endorsement that took a punt on a young NBA player, watched Jordan turn from a polished college star to an NBA Hall of Fame player, and will continue to reap the benefits of his career successes for years to come.

(Bleacher Report)

The Jordan brand which is elevated upon all of Michael’s signature shoes was eventually further established into its own sub department of Nike, where the Jordan brand now has control of signing players on their own endorsement deals under the watchful eye of Nike’s head office. Currently, Jordan has players such as Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum and Future Star Zion Williamson are signed to them with many planned to be provided with their own signature shoes.

According to Forbes, it is estimated that since Jordan’s deal in 1984 with the sporting apparel giant Nike, he has made roughly $1.3 Billion dollars…yes….billion, whilst also remaining on a lifetime contract to continue producing shoes and apparel and pay Jordan for the use.

Currently, Jordan is the richest athlete in the world, majorly due to his Nike contract that has elevated his name and Nikes name and provided him with a ridiculous amount of sales that couldn’t have been predicted.

As the current owner of the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA, Michael has had the Jordan brand be the teams sponsor, making all of the teams apparel and jerseys, whilst also displaying the Jordan brand logo on all jerseys, rather than the Nike that is on all other NBA teams.


Brad Edwards
Brad Edwards

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