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Michael Jordan smashed four clauses to keep Nike contract alive

Michael Jordan smashed four clauses to keep Nike contract alive

In his rookie NBA season, Michael Jordan was desperate not to loose his partnership with Nike.

Michael Jordan and Nike share the most recognisable athlete-brand partnership in sports history, but their paths could easily never have crossed.

Back in his days at the University of North Carolina, the future basketball star seemed destined to sign a deal with either Adidas or Converse.

Jordan preferred the three-stripe brand, but on the court he worse Converse because Dean Smith and the UNC at Chapel Hill were sponsored by them.

In the movie 'Air', it was revealed that after games Jordan would switch back into Adidas gear.

So, how did he end up at Nike rather than one of the two basketball giants at the time?

Nike had a budget of $250,000 to try and sign up three to four players from the 1984 NBA Draft.

According to 'Air' though, Sonny Vaccaro abandoned that idea and forced the company to use the entire budget on Jordan.

To persuade Jordan to sign with them, Nike offered the future Hall of Famer a 5-year, $2.5 million contract for after his rookie season.

However, to protect themselves in case Jordan flopped, Nike inserted four clauses into the deal. To protect his deal, Jordan needed to achieve just one of them.

Jordan needed to do one of the following: be named to an All-Star or All-NBA team, win Rookie of the Year, average 20+ points per game or sell over $4 million worth of Nike Air Jordans.

Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan
Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan

Perhaps predictably, the Chicago Bulls star smashed all of those requirements.

By the end of his rookie season, Jordan had averaged 28+ points per game and had sold $162 million worth of sneakers.

He was also crowned Rookie of the Year and was named to the All-Star and All-NBA second team.

The rest, as they say, is history. Both player and brand had profited hugely from the partnership, with Jordan making an estimated $1.6 billion up until 2023.

Another revelation to come out in 'Air' is that Jordan's mother ensured that her son got 25% of every Jordan sneaker sale when they initially negotiated his contract.

Over time that figure has fallen to about 5% due to his share in the company getting diluted, but it's still something unheard of in sports history.

Featured Image Credit: PA/Alamy

Topics: Michael Jordan, NBA, Basketball, Chicago Bulls, Nike