Error Jordan: Key Figures Still Argue Over Who Was Responsible for Nike Deal

Nike's Air Jordan brand started in 1984 with shoes for Michael Jordan. (Rick Bowmer/AP Photo)
Nike’s Air Jordan brand started in 1984 with shoes for Michael Jordan. (Rick Bowmer/AP Photo)

(USA Today) – The partnership between Nike and Michael Jordan has grown into the richest deal in sports marketing history — disputed history, it turns out, more than 30 years after their courtship.

“It’s a lot of people who think they created the success of the Jordan Brand, which is kind of ironic in some ways,” Jordan told USA TODAY Sports.

He’s the only who sounded even slightly amused about who gets credit for the landmark deal — consummated in 1984 after Jordan left the University of North Carolina for the NBA — that gave birth to Air Jordans, the Jordan Brand and the Jordan sneaker-and-apparel enterprise that still generates $2 billion annually.

Charges of exaggeration, deception, betrayal and conspiracy were leveled during interviews with USA TODAY Sports with those involved in the deal. Jordan weighed in, as did Nike co-founder Phil Knight, Nike executive George Raveling, former Nike basketball adviser Sonny Vaccaro and former Nike executive Peter Moore.


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