From the ground up

The creative folks over at Sneaker Freaker recently put together an exclusive story that wonders what would have happened to the Swoosh had Michael Jordan signed with adidas instead. Of course it’s now hard to imagine the Oregon-based brand without Jordan’s involvement – and vice versa – but that reality at one time was not too farfetched.

Check out the beginning of the story below and head over to SF’s site for the full story.

The year is 1984 and business isn’t great at Beaverton. The Swoosh has been shaken up after suffering its first ever quarterly profit slide the previous year. Once a brand for hardcore jogging kooks, Nike is now stretched thin. Court sports are their biggest seller, but sales are declining, particularly in basketball. The share price is plunging and Wall Street’s message to twitchy Nike stockholders is ‘Just sell it!’ Reebok now rules the roost with their Tubbs and Crockett approved all-white garment leather Freestyles. Nike needs to find the next big thing and soon.

Nike’s college hoops guru Sonny Vaccaro has an idea. A natural hustler and basketball promoter with impeccable connections, Vaccaro has been watching a kid called Michael Jordan come through the ranks. He knows the kid’s going to be something and convinces Nike bigwigs to make an all-or-nothing bet on the flubber-footed rookie. Instead of scattergun player endorsements across the NBA, they devise a plan to put all their chips on the single chosen one. Their pitch is seductive. They will market Jordan as a brand in his own right, complete with his own line of sneakers. Everyone agrees it’s a brilliant, ballsy play that could redraw the sports marketing map.

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