Michael Jordan is incredibly well-known across the world. He is a global personality not just due to his skills on the basketball court, it also had to do with the fact that he was able to establish a global shoe line called the Air Jordans. Fans might remember that this was possible only due to his initial contract with Nike.
Although Nike managed to earn an unexpected amount of money due to the success that MJ brought with him, it might interest people to know that there was a point in time when Nike’s CEO almost made a decision to move on from Jordan, a move that would have cost them millions if not billions. Let us take a closer look at the context of this situation and the events that transpired at the time.
Nike’s Phil Knight wanted to terminate their deal with Michael Jordan
Phil Knight was the former CEO of Nike and had certain concerns when he was informed about the decision to sign on Jordan. To those who do not know, Sonny Vaccaro was Mike’s man inside Nike and reportedly played a role in his decision to sign with them. Both Knight and Vaccaro got into a debate regarding whether they should retain or move on from MJ.
Roland Lazenby, a sports author, covered Jordan intensively and even interviewed Vaccaro in order to find out more about the situation with Nike. He was told about Phil Knight’s hesitation or lack of belief in Jordan. Moreover, Lazenby was also able to get Vaccaro to reveal the potential reasons for Knight’s lack of belief in the Jordan Brand.
“Strangely, Phil Knight had begun to have second thoughts about his company’s relationship with Jordan, which set up something of a drama that would unfold over the next year as talks continued about a new contract for Air Jordan. It was as if MJ had gotten too much power too quickly and it spooked Knight, Sonny Vaccaro explained. Such huge sales were difficult to sustain, and a slight dip had given the Nike chairman reason for pause. “Phil was ready to get rid of him,” Vaccaro remembered. “Phil was ready to sign all the college teams and forget Michael. I said, ‘You can’t do that.’ ”
Perhaps the increasing sales following Jordan’s endorsement contract gave Phil Knight a reason to pause. After all, no one could have predicted MJ’s impact on the shoe market. In any case, we are sure that Nike is relieved that their former CEO didn’t take matters into his own hands at the time.