Hearing Michael Jordan even say the name Adidas is a bit jarring. Jordan’s Air Jordan shoes and several ad campaigns made Jordan and Nike synonymous that raised the relevance of both.
Episode 5 of “The Last Dance” went into how Jordan’s shoe deal with Nike came about. His agent, David Falk, said it began with Converse, which was the official shoe of the NBA at the time.
Converse had the big NBA stars of the day on their roster: Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Julius Erving, among others.
“Converse had big players and told me we can not envision you being put ahead of them,” Jordan said in the documentary. ”OK, fine.”
So Converse was out of the running.
Jordan’s next admission was that he was a big Adidas fan at the time and there was even a clip of a younger Jordan saying how much he liked Adidas shoes.
“I was Adidas,” Jordan said on “The Last Dance.”
Wait, Jordan wanted to be with Adidas? How did it end up with Nike?
Falk finished off the story that has to have Adidas executives losing their minds.
“Adidas was really dysfunctional by that time and they had just told me ‘We’d love to have Jordan, we just can’t make a shoe work at this point in time,’” Falk said. “I wanted Michael to go with Nike because they were the upstart.”
The rest is history, but a world where Jordan signed with Adidas instead of Nike is a culture-shifting possibility and wasn’t all that far off from happening.