Bulls

Michael Jordan remains the GOAT of the sneaker game

Michael Jordan remains the GOAT of the sneaker game

On Wednesday, Forbes released an analysis of the NBA’s top shoe deals, and the field is growing more and more crowded by the year. According to Forbes, 12 active NBA players earn more than $10 million from their sneaker pact (including Zion Williamson, who is slated to earn $13 million before playing his first NBA game). 

But the leader in the clubhouse, to no one’s surprise and by a staggering margin, is Michael Jordan.

Everyone knows that Jordan runs the sneaker game and has for decades, even in spite of his post-retirement foibles as owner of the Charlotte Hornets. Still, the numbers are otherworldly. According to Forbes, Jordan’s total yearly earnings amount to $145 million, with $130 million of that coming from “sneaker income.” For reference, LeBron James pulls in $32 million per year from his shoe deal and $89 million overall when combined with other endorsements and his annual salary. Even without stepping onto the court this season, Jordan is expected to outpace even the highest paid NBA players in earnings by leaps and bounds.

 

It’s quite a feat and a not-so-gentle reminder of the utter stranglehold Jordan, as well as Nike overall, has on the basketball sneaker market. Others can scrap for the dregs of market share they can find, but at the end of the day, MJ stays the GOAT on the court and in the boardroom. 

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Bobby Portis won't call it a revenge game, but Wendell Carter Jr. still says 'I'm not going to have it'

Bobby Portis won't call it a revenge game, but Wendell Carter Jr. still says 'I'm not going to have it'

Bobby Portis made a strong statement against the Bulls on Oct. 28 with 28 points, including 11 in the final seven minutes of a Knicks win.

If Wendell Carter Jr. can back up his words, it won’t happen again.

“We’re not letting that happen,” Carter said on Monday. “Bobby’s going to come on and want to put on a show. I’m not going to have it. I hope he watches this. I ain’t having that.”


Turns out Portis did watch that. Portis talked to reporters Tuesday at the United Center at shootaround and wasn’t getting sucked into a war of words with his former teammate.

“I saw that video,” Portis said with a smile. “It was kind of funny at the same time. But you know that’s my guy. I was with him when he first came into the league last year. We were best of friends. Me, him and Antonio Blakeney, all of us were like a little trio that we all hung out each and every day off the court and all that. I think it’s kind of cool to see his progression this year. He’s been having a monster year, getting double-doubles every game.”

So Portis elected not to take the bait and talk back to Carter. Even Carter admitted the two are still friends after he made his declaration on Monday.

This isn’t turning into a heated personal rivalry by any stretch and Portis wouldn’t call games against the Bulls “revenge games.” That said, he knows exactly how many times he’s faced the Bulls since he was traded away.

Portis played the Bulls three times with the Wizards after being traded in February. The Bulls-Knicks game earlier this season made it four games against the Bulls. He has three double-doubles and is averaging 18.3 points and 9.5 rebounds in those games.

“I don’t look at it as a revenge game,” Portis said. “I look at it as us as a team trying to come in here and just try to steal one on the road. We need it in the worst way.”

As if Portis didn’t get a bit extra attention against his former team as it was, now eyes will be on Carter and Portis to see how they react after talking through the media.

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Bulls' coach Jim Boylen: 'We need Lauri Markkanen to be Lauri Markkanen'

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USA Today

Bulls' coach Jim Boylen: 'We need Lauri Markkanen to be Lauri Markkanen'

Lauri Markkanen may be quiet. But he's not oblivious.

"I know I can play better," he said.

Markkanen's lack of production has dominated headlines for a couple days now. Never mind the Bulls' struggles extend beyond him. But early in a season in which the Bulls pointed to Markkanen as primed to contend for an All-Star berth, he is averaging a career low 14.9 points on career low 38.5 percent shooting, including a career low 27.9 percent from 3-point range.

Coach Jim Boylen introduced a new element following Tuesday's morning shootaround when he said Markkanen has been playing through a sore oblique for close to two weeks. Markkanen briefly left the Nov. 1 home game against the Pistons to have his side examined. But he never has landed on the Bulls' injury report and Monday marked the first time the team disclosed anything about the oblique, saying Markkanen sat out the contact portions of practice.

"I’ll stick up for him a little bit. He’s fighting through an injury," Boylen said. "He hasn’t stopped practicing. He hasn’t stopped working out. He has fought through, which I think is growth for him to fight through some of that. He’s never complained. He’s never whined. He’s never (said), 'I don’t know if I can do this.' It’s, 'Coach, I’m going to do the best I can. I’m going to give you everything I have.' When you have a mentality like that, good things happen for you. When? I don’t have a crystal ball."

Boylen spoke after Markkanen addressed reporters. Asked if he believes the injury is affecting Markkanen's shooting, Boylen said he didn't know.

"He’s a good shooter. He’s always been a good shooter. Shooters go through slumps. Hitters go through slumps. It happens," Boylen said. "It’s just a weird injury. It’s not enough to keep you out. It’s not enough to kind of stop your momentum. But it’s enough to maybe influence maybe how you do things and how you play. And he has fought through it and I’m really proud of him."

Markkanen looked inward.

"First of all, I got to look at myself in the mirror: What can I do better?" Markkanen said. "We got a lot of guys this year that can score the ball, so it might be a different guy every night."

Pressed further, though, Markkanen for the second time in four days talked about the offensive system.

"It’s been kind of varying. Some games I get a lot of touches and be really engaged and sometimes I feel like it’s a lot of … it depends on what we’re running," he said. "Some plays, I am the screener and then I got to do my job and pick guys. That’s part of how we’re playing right now. I’m not worried about that."

Markkanen attempted seven free throws against the Rockets and said that's what he is focused on to get himself engaged.

"We’ve been running stuff coming out of timeout, try to get a layup or get to the foul line and stuff like that, so I feel like that helps," Markkanen said. "I’ve been trying to get to the rim. I know we’re not doing a lot of post-up this year for (the sake of) the perimeter. Just got to drive the ball more and be more aggressive."

Boylen knows how essential getting Markkanen going is to the Bulls' fortunes.

"We need Lauri Markkanen to be Lauri Markkanen," Boylen said. "We need him to be a driver, a handler, a defensive rebounder. He’s an elite defensive rebounder. We need him to be a multifaceted, multidimensional 7-foot guy that we’ve seen him play like, that we know he can play like. We need him to play like that more consistently. He knows it. We know it. He has high character, and it’s just a matter of time to me." 

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