The Legends, now and forever?


With such famous names like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and Lebron James, Nike has built a sportswear empire.  The strategy of using these athletes has mutually boosted their sales and increased the fame of the athletes.  It has shown it’s success since the start of the company by emerging as a dominant player in the athletic shoe industry.  Nike first began the celebrity-star athlete approach with Steve Prefontaine, who attended the University of Oregon, like Phillip Knight, the company’s CEO.  The most famous Nike athlete however is hands down Michael Jordan.  Jordan was recruited to the company right out of college in 1984 and has been a representative of the swoosh ever since.  The company has developed athletic shoes and clothes in his name and they have continued to sell, even after his basketball career ended.  The Air Jordan is one of the best selling shoes in history and with the rest of Michael Jordan’s brand earns him over 1 billion a year.  According the the Forbes article, The Michael Jordan Business is Booming , Jordan is making more profits now then when he was actually playing. This kind of business that Nike partakes in is based on the legend of Michael Jordan, which is similar to that of Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong. Nike uses these legendary athletes to support its sales, but the question is now whether or not those brands will continue to be the life support for Nike or if they will eventually fade away. If they do fade away, then what athlete will be next in continuing the Legends of Nike?

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10 Responses to The Legends, now and forever?

  1. Nate says:

    To answer your question, brands such as Air Jordan, which come from athletes who we view now as our legendary athletes, will not be the life support of Nike. In generations to come, people would never have been able to see Jordan play and would not really care much about him other than a basketball great in the hall of fame. There will be new legends in sports and players who are considered to be one of “the best ever in the game”. And these players will provide the brand recognition that supports Nike.

  2. meganm423 says:

    There will always be a constant string of athletes who will endorse the Nike brand. Professional and college team do it now by wearing all Nike apparel. Most notably Lebron James endorsement contract drew headlines because he was signed before he even played his first professional game. He was paid $90 million for his seven year contract. Looking at how he has played in past few years and how young he is people say he is the next Michael Jordan so I believe he is the one who is really filling this basketball legends shoes, no pun intended.

  3. Alyssa Haglund says:

    Yes, but legends in the hall of fame have not had entire brands based off of them. It seems as if Jordan has been such a crucial factor to Nike because he has remained well liked by staying somewhat neutral when in conflicting situations. I remember hearing somewhere that Jordan was at a political press conference for one political party and made comments directed at both parties, instead of solely the one whose party he was at. I am not sure if Lebron James will be able to continue this role. Plus, soon kids will not even know who Michael Jordan is, so will they still be intrigued to buy his brand?

  4. Nate says:

    By saying that they have not had entire brands based off of them, do you mean legends in the hall of fame that have had their own brands/clothing lines? If so there has actually been several. Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus, Wayne Gretzky, and Jim Palmer are just a few. But if you are specifically talking about Nike then yes it is true that Michael Jordan is the only one as of right now. This is because Michael Jordan was the first “premier” athlete to endorse Nike. About one decade after Nike was getting big, Jordan started winning championships. When his shoe, the Air Jordan’s” were made, Nike skied to a new level and Jordan kept winning. I think Jordan was a crucial athlete to Nike because he was the best and everyone wanted to wear “the best’s shoes”. Lebron’s clothing line does well for Nike and when he wins championships it will continue to soar. Jordan will be forgotten about and Lebron, or whoever is the new premier athlete, will be Nike’s new money maker.

    • Jordi says:

      Is this based on a history of Nike, or your own recollection of events?

      • Nate says:

        To put it in more clear terms: The first pair of Air Jordan’s were put out in 1985 and for the first time in the history of Nike, they reached revenues of $1 billion in 1986. Jordan won his first championship in the 1990-1991 season. So I was really just using the statement “winning championships” to portray his greatness. The reason Nike and the Jordan brand did so well was because the player who was wearing the shoes was a dominant force in the NBA. So I think that once another great NBA gets remotely close to the dominance level that Jordan was on, Nike could make great use of them as an endorser. Lebron is one player who is making his way up. He could possibly be the one to be Nike’s new leading money maker considering in years to come, children will idealize him considering they were never able to witness Jordan play.

      • Nate says:

        This comment should be below my previous one but based on the history of Nike, between 1988 and 1998 Nike increased its share of the domestic sport-shoe business by 25 percent. This is the same time span that Jordan won 6 CHAMPIONSHIPS. I don’t think Nike’s revenue boom ironically corresponded to Jordan’s success.

  5. Slade says:

    Just because Michael Jordan is the only athlete with a big time brand name under Nike does not mean Nike cannot simply do the same with another athlete. Think about it, both Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have dozens of shoes under their own brand under Nike and they are currently known as some of the best players in the game today and potentially of all time. Just because Jordan may leave doesn’t mean the brand will disappear either. They will just lose him as a front man. Nike sponsors the best players in their given sport; Tiger Woods in golf, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez in baseball, Adrian Peterson and Andre Johnson in football, Alex Ovechkin in hockey, Christiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney in soccer, and Raphael Nadal and Roger Federer in tennis. They have other legends in their repertoire such as Deion Sanders, Bo Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr., Nolan Ryan, Mia Hamm, Fabio Cannavarro, Carl Lewis, and Asafa Powell. They also sponsor teams from every team sport you can think of and include figure skating, MMA, speed skating, Futsal, along with dozens of National teams for each sport. They even sponsor the United States National Olympic Committee. Sorry to digress with the expansive lists, I think you get the point. They aren’t going anywhere too quickly. The Jordan brand may give substantial revenue, but some of the most impressive players and teams through multiple sports ever. They can probably find a replacement for the Jordan brand. Also, what shoe brand by Adidas or other athletic apparel providers can you think of that would take over the Jordan brand when it is gone? Perhaps the Lebron line? But that is under Nike as well, and I see my younger brother and all of his friends wearing his t-shirts and other sports apparel. Nike has thousands of sponsors, many of which many people have not even heard of, but they are all over the world and Nike can reach athletes that anyone has heard of no matter what sport you are a fan of. Not only that, but they always are coming up with terrific ideas and innovations. For example, Nike recently got the patent for self-tying shoelaces for their new “Back to the Future” brand of sneakers, to make them really like the movie, and they plan to produce them in the near future. They have also been in classic (to me at least) movies such as The Goonies, Forrest Gump, Back to the Future (makes sense) and Spiderman. They are in more places than you think. And if you see a nike pair of sneakers or t-shirt in shows like Glee, Two and Half Men or Scrubs, don’t be surprised either.

  6. katiebaum13 says:

    I agree with all that has been said. If Nike continues to be represented by the most current premier athletes, then they will not lose consumers. Even if Michael Jordan’s line fades, which I think it will over time, people will still continue to buy from the lines of the current athletes of whom they look up to.

  7. Jordi says:

    But, there are several if not many premier athletes. Why would Nike’s competitors not do the same thing? Is Nike Always out-bidding Reebok, Adidas and whoever else is competing? I find that hard to believe.

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