Adidas vs Nike: 3 moments in history that changed the sneaker game

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Michael Jordan; 1984 NBA Rook of the Year, six-time NBA champion, six-time NBA Finals MVP and billionaire, could have been signed by adidas.

Although he wasn’t on his high school basketball team in his sophomore year, he worked hard (grew a few inches) and made it to college where he would play the goaltending role for the North Carolina Tar Heels under the direction of renowned varsity coach Dean Smith. Nike Marketing Director Sonny Vaccaro had kept a close eye on “Mike Jordan” (as he was called at the time) as he worked his way up the ranks. And it was Sonny who suggested to Knight, when discussing who to sign, that they “give Jordan.” All. Vaccaro wanted Knight to move all in. Knight trusted Vaccaro and therefore offered MJ a five-year contract that included $ 500,000 / year, 5% royalty and his own line of sneakers.

Converse said they couldn’t sign him as they already had future Hall of Fame members Larry Bird, DR J and Isiah Thomas; no place for Jordan. Spot-Bilt (later to become Saucony) matched Nike’s offer, with the help of encouragement from ex-NFL star and spokesman OJ Simpson, but they couldn’t match Nike’s marketing expenses. adidas said they just couldn’t make a shoe work for Jordan at the time, and since they were so big in Europe, it didn’t make sense for them at the time to focus too much on the shoe. American market. adidas didn’t even make him an offer.

Jordan even gave adidas a second chance. After Nike put their offer on the table, Jordan, so desperate to sign with adidas, returned to see if they could match him. He loved adidas so much that he wore them to college training… even though the team was sponsored by Converse. Initially, Jordan wasn’t even going to keep Nike’s interest alive by agreeing to a meeting; that is, until his mother Deloris insists he attend the reunion, and once the offer is received his father tells him that he would be crazy not to sign on the dotted line .

While adidas has had its fair share of success with models like the Superstar and Stan Smith, neither has had the immediate success of the Nike Air Jordans. After signing MJ, Nike forecast sales of $ 3 million in the first four years. In the first year alone, they made $ 126 million. They couldn’t make them fast enough to meet demand. And they would become the multi-billion dollar company we know today. With the release of the Air Jordan 36 in 2021, they are still doing well, even though Jordan himself retired in 2003.


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