The Last Dance is over, but the Michael Jordan stories are still coming out.
We already learned from the exceptional 10-part ESPN x Netflix documentary that Michael Jordan’s mother, Deloris, was the main reason he even took a meeting with Nike, ultimately signing with the brand and luring him away from adidas. Now we are learning that even after linking up with the Swoosh, Jordan was still unhappy and was real close to leaving. This time it was his late father, James Jordan, who convinced His Airness to stick with the sportswear company due to him being late to a meeting.
ESPN’s Wright Thompson writes that James was the reason Jordan re-upped with Nike in 1988 while MJ was searching for a potential new landing spot for his greatness. It was a scolding from his dad that convinced him that Nike was the place to be. Jordan wasn’t feeling Nike after he broke his foot while wearing a pair of Nikes and put their hope in his next signature sneaker, the Air Jordan III, which was designed by the great Tinker Hatfield with some input from Jordan.
Nike’s CEO, Phil Knight, was confident that Jordan was going to leave the brand Hatfield told ESPN.
“Phil Knight was pretty well convinced that Michael was gonna leave Nike. Phil was very, very concerned. I think he thought for sure we had lost him. There was this one last meeting. It was in this hotel.”
The potential “last meeting” between Jordan and Nike was packed with Knight, Hatfield, Jordan’s parents, agents, and Nike’s head of marketing all in attendance. There was only one person, and that was Jordan himself. He was four hours late to the meeting, and what was he doing?
MJ was on the links, playing golf, of course.
Hatfield broke down what took place in the meeting stating:
“We waited for four hours, which is about how long it takes to play 18 holes of golf. From what I understand, Michael was out on the golf course with some prospective partners, and Howard [White, a Nike employee] was with them, but he was trying to get Michael to leave the golf course and go to the meeting.
Once he arrived, Jordan immediately fell in love with the sneaker but didn’t make his decision till he was in the parking lot. According to Thompson, James Jordan ripped into his son for being late and convinced him to stay by making the case that Nike showed commitment to him by waiting for hours to speak with him.
“[Michael’s] dad said that Nike’s commitment was on display because Phil Knight had waited so long, and its design skills were on display in the IIIs and that this seemed like the right move for his future. Michael listened.”
The rest is history, and sneaker culture was blessed with years of great kicks. Shoutout to James and Deloris for having the vision.
Photo: Courtesy Of Nike / Nike