The Jordan brand does $4.7B in revenue per year.

But did you know the sneaker empire was built on a lie?

Here's the crazy story 🧵
1/ In the 1984 NBA Draft, Michael Jordan was the #3 selection to the Chicago Bulls.

He had just won National Player of the Year in his final year at the University of North Carolina.

Puma, Converse — all the big sneaker companies wanted him:
2/ After the draft, Jordan wanted to sign with Adidas.

He loved the 3 stripes and how influential they were in culture.

But Adidas wasn't looking at MJ.

It came down to 2 choices — Nike or Converse.
3/ Converse was the big brand.

Converse had Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Isiah Thomas on their roster.

Nike didn’t yet have a basketball superstar

And was determined to change that.
4/ But Jordan didn't want to take the meeting with Nike.

His agent David Falk tried his best to convince MJ but his mind was set:

No Nike.

Legend has it, his mom made him go.
5/ Nike blew Jordan away.

They created an entire line centered around MJ.

His own sneaker. His own brand — Air Jordan.

They also offered $500k/yr at a time when the richest sneaker deal was $150k/yr.

So MJ signed his first shoe deal with Nike.
6/ They went to work on MJ's first signature shoe.

It would be called the Air Jordan 1.

They used the Bulls colors of black and red plus inspiration from previous Nike models such as the Air Force One.
7/ Shortly into Jordan’s rookie year, Nike received a letter.

It read:

“The NBA’s rules prohibit the wearing of red and black Nike basketball shoes worn by MJ on Oct 18.”

This could've killed the entire launch.

But Nike is one of the best marketing companies on the planet…
8/ With the shoe effectively banned, Nike took the letter to its marketing department.

On a $30k budget, they produced this ad:
9/ Sales for the shoe took off.

Nike estimated the Air Jordan 1 would bring in $3M in the first 3 years.

It did $126M in Year 1.

The Air Jordan 1 has gone on to become the best selling basketball shoe of all-time.
10/ But there's one more twist to this story.

Jordan didn't wear the Air Jordan 1 on Oct 18 as the letter stated.

Because production was still ramping up on the AJ1, Jordan was actually wearing a shoe called the Air Ship.

Here's a look at the Air Ships:
11/ Meaning the Air Jordan 1s were never actually banned.

But Nike didn't let facts get in the way of a good story.
12/ My friend @chrisxmunn originally surfaced this story.

It was criminally overlooked. Follow him for more lesser known biz stories.
13/ If you enjoyed that, I write 2-3 threads per week breaking down unique sports content.

Follow @nathanbaugh27 to catch those in your feed.

Here’s another one you might like:
14/ TL;DR

 — Jordan signed with Nike in 1984.

— He was tasked with turning Nike into a global shoe player.

— Before his 1st shoe had even launched, the NBA "banned" them.

— Nike used the controversy brilliantly to drive consumer interest.
If you enjoyed this, you’ll love my newsletter where I curate sports news in a witty, insightful way.

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More from @nathanbaugh27

26 Dec
The most influential man in golf history: Charlie Sifford.

But you’ve probably never heard of him…

Tiger Woods calls him “the Grandpa I never had” and even named his son after him.

The incredible story of Dr. Charles Sifford 🧵
1/ At 13, Charlie Sifford got a job caddying at a local course making 60 cents a day.

“50 cents went to my mom and I kept the other 10 to buy stogies.”

This became his signature look: Image
2/ With the club closed Mondays, Charlie convinced the owners to let him use the course that day.

Other days he’d sneak on before it opened to practice even more.

Within a year, 13-year-old Charlie Sifford became a scratch golfer. Image
Read 15 tweets
19 Dec
20 life lessons you’ll learn from sports (but not from school):
Nothing great is achieved by complaining.

Complaining wastes time and energy.

Improving yourself takes time and energy.

Choose wisely.
Optimists win.

If you think you can’t win — you’ve already lost.

If you believe you can win — you’ve got a chance.
Read 23 tweets
15 Dec
A fan turned a Barry Bonds home run into $752,000 and a sneaker company: 🧵
Barry Bonds hit 762 home runs… the most ever.

But #756 broke Hank Aaron’s record.

It’s the most important — and most valuable — homer Bonds ever hit.

It was caught by a 21-year-old…
Homer 756 was hit at San Fran’s then AT&T Park.

A fight ensued for the ball.

Out of the scrum, 21-year-old Matt Murphy emerged with the ball.
Read 10 tweets
14 Dec
I write a daily newsletter curating the sports news you care about.

Let’s use this thread as a time capsule to look back at the crazy month of December so far:
Dec 1

• MLB used two types of baseballs this year (w/o telling anyone)
• Penultimate college football rankings
• RGIII’s tell all book…
Dec 2

• Bills Mafia donated $100k
• WTA cancels all tournaments in China
• MLB lockout…
Read 13 tweets
12 Dec
A driver was read his last rites after one of the worst wrecks in F1 history.

He survived, going on to win 3 titles and becoming the most influential man in the sport: 🧵
Niki Lauda was born to a wealthy Austrian family.

But his love for racing — and their disapproval of the sport — led to a split.

In 1971, 22-year-old Niki took out a $30,000 loan to buy his way onto a Formula 2 team.
Niki’s first year in Formula 1 was full of bad luck.

In year 2 he joined a new team and finished 3rd at the Monaco Grand Prix, F1’s most prestigious race.

He caught Enzo Ferrari’s eye…
Read 15 tweets
2 Dec
Hansel Emmanuel lost an arm at the age of 6.

Now he’s a high school basketball star with his eyes on the NBA:
Hansel holds a D1 scholarship offer from Tennessee State.

He’d be the second D1 basketball player with only 1 arm.

His skills are incredible.

1. Handles
2. Dunking
Read 10 tweets

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