More details regarding Michael Jordan’s original signing with Nike continue to surface thanks to a never-ending debate as to who is actually responsible for pairing MJ with the Swoosh. Who deserves the most credit? Is it Sonny Vaccaro, who is trying to take the most credit? Is it David Falk, who represented MJ in contract and marketing negotiations? Is it George Raveling, who was by MJ’s side during the ’84 Olympics, and urged him ‘You gotta go Nike’? The bickering debate won’t seem to end and ESPN‘s Darren Rovell just reported on David Falk’s rebuttals to Vaccaros claims. Within all the back-and-forth, we are reminded of some of the more forgotten details regarding Jordan’s “sneaker free agency” back in 1984.
It’s known that Jordan was big on adidas, but the brand didn’t have much interest in him (or basketball as a whole). Meanwhile Converse, another brand MJ had an affinity for, offered $100,000 per year. But the company that offered the most money was Spot-Bilt, then Hyde Athletic’s basketball division (today, Spot-Bilt is recognized as Saucony). In interviews with ESPN, Spot-Bilt’s then VP of Marketing John H. Fisher says the brand would’ve gotten far more conservative than the black/red Air Jordans that Nike ended up producing, and would have likely made the first Spot-Bilt Jordan as a white sneaker with the red S logo. Jordan ended up signing with Nike, and the Air Jordans sold $70 million in the first two months. We all ponder an alternate universe with Jordan signing with adidas, but what if he took the biggest offer and ended up rocking the S? Hard to imagine.