"Emancipation" European Premiere - Arrivals

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While on his Emancipation promotion image-reclamation tour, Will Smith stopped by the All the Smoke podcast to talk about a few things. The rapper-turned-TV and film star was well known during his Fresh Prince years for having the “freshest” kicks of the time. He says that he had no idea that his personal desire for the best sneakers available would turn out to be so impactful.

“I was living the culture,” he told hosts Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. “I was literally calling [Michael] Jordan like Mike, please don’t give it to nobody. I gotta be the first,” Smith said.

Jordan’s response? “Man, I don’t run that.”

Smith is credited with helping popularize the Jordan brand via the NBC sitcom which aired 148 episodes over six seasons starting on Sept. 10, 1990. Though Jordan may not have personally provided Smith with the shoes, the brand has released several “Fresh Prince” editions in the years since.

The Jordan 5, which Smith wore in the opening title sequence for the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, achieved iconic sneakerhead status and has been released in various colorways. Even though the man behind the legacy sneakers told Smith he wasn’t in charge of each sneaker rollout, the Jordan Brand capitalized on the exposure Smith brought them, releasing Bel Air editions from 2013 on.

The 2018 “Friends and Family” limited edition sneaker released in 2018 in conjunction with Smith’s 50th birthday, was a run of 23 pairs. If you can find it, it’s selling for anywhere from $2000$14,000.

Smith once famously said that Jordan was one of the two most competitive people he’s ever met — and that’s saying something as Smith is in a rarefied group of celebrities who are known for the same.

Some of Jordan’s legendary drive was displayed in The Last Dance documentary which riveted basketball fans when it aired on ESPN during the pandemic, leading to this unforgettable meme. But in a 2003 interview with the late Georgetown coach John Thompson, he confirmed Smith’s story.

Jordan told Thompson, “My competitive drive is far greater than anyone else that I’ve met. I thrive on that. I think that’s my biggest motivation in life, is to compete and find different competitions in certain things in life and try to overcome that, be it positive or negative. I have yet to meet someone as competitive as me as I just feel that much confident about my competitive drive.”

As confident as Jordan was on the court, he’s the same in business. 

Much of his estimated $1.7 billion net worth, is due, you guessed it, to the sneakers he made famous. In 2022, the estimated worth of the Jordan brand was $5 billion.

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