Michael Jordan‘s name is closely tied with Nike‘s brand for several decades now, and he is one of the main reasons for Nike’s global success throughout the years. After Nike signed Jordan in his rookie season, the company immediately saw it was the best move they could make because they sold over $100 million in merchandise. The Jordan brand quickly gained a lot of traction, and the impact it had on the culture is still evident to this day.
In a recent interview for VladTv, former NBA and Chicago Bulls player Craig Hodges talked about the situation at the end of the ’80s when Nike planned to renew its contract with Jordan. Hodges who was always involved in political, racial, and social activism pitched an idea to Jordan about formin his brand to help employee people from the African-American community instead of cheap labor from China or other Asian countries.
He was ready to sign a deal with Nike, and it was one of those deals where at that point in time, you could make a break. You can make a break from the traditional marketing campaign you can make a break of those who have maintained and measured control economically.Craig Hodges, via VladTV
In Hodges’s mind, the popularity and financial impact Jordan was about to receive at that time had the opportunity to impact the local communities significantly in the US. In his pitch to Jordan, Hodges suggested that the means of production of his new shoe were in the hands of the African American community. In that way, his brand would be closely connected with the people, and those who were without a job or selling drugs on the street would have the opportunity to have a steady job with a successful brand.
I tell the brother, look we can get the factory for a dollar, we can make the means of production from production and all the rubber is coming under the feet from black people. And you don’t think we can match those things together and now we have a ready-made workforce standing on the corner selling dope. You can’t tell me we can’t swap that dope for a Michael Jordan gym shoe and have people go for it.Craig Hodges, via VladTV
Unfortunately, Jordan didn’t accept the idea and went into a different direction with Nike and his brand. At that time, Jordan was afraid he might not become so popular, and even he wasn’t sure what kind of legacy he’ll have or whether that idea would work. In Hodges’s mind, since Jordan went into a different direction with Nike, it created a monster that didn’t benefit the African-American community at all and quite the contrary.
MJ is a Frankenstein monster created by white supremacy racists who made that into a motto that is able to be consumed by the world under blackface.Craig Hodges, via VladTV
The Jordan Brand is now estimated at over a billion dollars, making Michael Jordan one of the wealthiest athletes in sports history. If you look from a business perspective, he didn’t make many mistakes during that process. On the other hand, people often complained about the lack of Jordan’s involvement in various social and racial issues, even though he was involved in several of them, especially recently, with everything going around the US. Hodges’s idea to Jordan sounded impactful because the communities would directly benefit from it, but unfortunately, Jordan made a different decision that in Hodgese’s mind was the wrong move.