The story behind NBA hall of famer Michael Jordan’s decision to join Nike has has always been shrouded in mystery, with former executive Sonny Vaccaro previously understood to be the man who convinced Jordan to sign a deal with the major sportswear brand.
The six-time NBA champion was a trailblazer for creating a brand based off an individual sportsperson with Nike partnering with the Chicago Bulls legend in creating ‘Jordan’.
It has largely been understood that Vaccaro was the catalyst behind Jordan’s success with Nike with the former employee defending the former basketball player to CEO Phil Knight who had previously considered terminating the two parties’ contract.
Naturally, Jordan has expressed his gratitude towards Vaccaro but credits former coach George Raveling for first encouraging the now-60-year-old to sign a deal with Nike.
Raveling had played in the NBA before becoming the assistant coach of the 1984 Olympic team which Jordan was a part of, with the basketball icon still quite young. The coach noticed a star in the making and urged him to partner with the global sportswear brand with a $2.5million deal on the table.
Jordan was once asked about his relationship with the 85-year-old former coach and player, saying: “Sonny likes to take the credit. But it really wasn’t Sonny, it was actually George Raveling. George Raveling was with me on the 1984 Olympics team (as an assistant coach under Bob Knight).
“He used to always try to talk to me, ‘You gotta go Nike, you gotta go Nike. You’ve got to try at the time…At the time, Raveling also was head coach at the University of Iowa and had an endorsement deal with Nike. In fact, Vaccaro secured the deal for Raveling.”
The man deemed by many as the greatest NBA player ever has earned a significantly higher proportion of his astronomical wealth from his entrepreneurial endeavours. Having earned less than $100million when playing basketball, the 60-year-old has built a net worth of over $2billion according to Forbes.
Alongside ‘Jordan’, the American is the owner of NBA franchise the Charlotte Hornets and owns NASCAR team ’23XI’. Jordan is the perfect example of how to self-brand and will be an example to any sports person who looks to follow suit in business opportunities.