Air Jordan III: The Shocking Story of the Greatest Shoe Jordan Never Wanted

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Michael Jordan was about to ditch Nike — until an inexperienced designer created the shoe he’d always dreamed of.

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Something strange was in the air at the Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. It wasn’t just that deadlines loomed—that was typical. A shareholders meeting was just around the corner, which never brightened the mood, but that wasn’t it, either. Tinker Hatfield Jr., a 35-year-old sneaker designer, couldn’t quite put his finger on it. His boss, Nike’s creative director and lead shoe designer, Peter Moore, typically blasted music in his office while he sketched new ideas for shoes. But this summer morning in 1987, the music wasn’t playing.

A few weeks prior, Rob Strasser, Nike’s vice president, suddenly handed in his resignation. Nobody had seen it coming. Strasser was an industry veteran who’d spent nearly two decades as Phil Knight’s marketing guru. He’d become a local legend, “the man who saved Nike.” In three years, he’d turned the company’s fortunes around by signing Michael Jordan to the most high-profile and successful athlete endorsement deal in history. Soon, Jordan’s contract would be coming up for renegotiation. Wherever Strasser was about to go, he seemed poised to take Jordan with him.

Moore, who’d designed the first two iterations of the Air Jordan, was clearly frustrated. Suddenly, he called Hatfield into his office. Sketches for a new shoe were scattered around the desk. Handing Hatfield a thin sheet of tracing paper, Moore said, “You do it. Design Michael Jordan’s next basketball shoe.” A week later, Moore followed Strasser’s lead and walked out the door, leaving behind a thin file filled with those same sketches. The deadline to present the new Air Jordan was a few weeks away, and the company’s fate seemed tethered to the deal.

Hatfield had never even worked on an Air Jordan, let alone designed one. In fact, he was new to the field: He’d barely worked on sneakers for two years. But now, with Nike reeling from the loss of its design and marketing leadership and with its relationship with Jordan on the line, Tinker had a lot riding on this one shoe.

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@Jumpman23

In high school, Hatfield had been a standout track athlete. He was part of Oregon’s robust amateur-sports culture (near the center of which was his father, a legendary track coach). He attended the University of Oregon on a track-and-field scholarship and held the school’s pole-vaulting record for a while, but his teammate, Steve Prefontaine—who would go on to become one of the most celebrated track stars in history—got most of the attention. That was fine by Hatfield. He’d chosen Oregon because the school offered a bachelor’s degree in architecture—his true passion.

Four years after graduation, Hatfield was floundering at a corporate architecture job. Then his former track coach, Bill Bowerman, called. The company Bowerman had helped start, Nike, was beginning to flourish and it needed some help designing marketing materials. In 1980, Bowerman brought Hatfield in to work on an internal marketing manual. A year later, the position had bloomed into a full-time role. Hatfield worked on showrooms, offices, retail-space concepts: the kinds of things that ultimately mattered much less than the way everything else there was designed.

Then, in 1985, Rob Strasser asked Hatfield to compete in a company-wide design contest. The challenge was to design a shoe you could wear as easily on the track as you could fashionably on the street—such a crossover didn’t exist. Nike would never do anything with it, probably. It was a lark, a theoretical, an exercise to get Nike’s shoe designers thinking bigger.

Hatfield took it seriously. He stayed up all night, drawing a colorful upper with a low-profile midsole and a visible airbag in the shoe itself. Hatfield was inspired by Paris’s Centre Georges Pompidou—a building turned inside out—and its designers, the bad-boy architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, whom he counted as personal heroes. In his sketch, he positioned the shoes not on a runner but next to a European motor scooter.

This was a renegade move at a company whose mission was mainly to service runners’ needs. The more conservative minds at Nike saw this as a sign that Hatfield didn’t understand the brand’s mission. Some of his colleagues thought he should be fired. Hatfield didn’t care. He knew the company made purely utilitarian shoes, but he just wasn’t interested in designing purely utilitarian shoes. “When I came in,” he remembered later, “I had stories to tell.”

Moore was amused by his moxie and wowed by his design: It won the contest. Nobody at the top was entirely sure what to make of Hatfield, but they knew that he shouldn’t be designing marketing materials anymore. Just like that, he’d become a shoe designer. He didn’t know that, in just two years, he’d be faced with the biggest challenge of his career, nor did he realize just whom he’d need to win over.

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Michael Jordan had come to Nike as a last resort. When he signed with the Chicago Bulls in 1984, he desperately wanted an Adidas endorsement. The German company had enough athletes on its books, however, and was reluctant to sign another. Even after Nike offered to tailor shoes to his liking, with his name on them—something no other company was doing at the time—and sign him to an eye-popping five-year, $500,000 contract (also unheard of at the time), Jordan wasn’t entirely sold.

Five years later, Jordan’s kicks were some of the most successful athlete-endorsed shoes ever. But as his contract neared its end, Jordan was looking for an out. Moore and Strasser, who’d signed him, were gone. The pair were hoping to lure Jordan to their upstart competitor, Sports Inc., where they wanted to give him his own shoe and apparel line. Adidas was beckoning too. At this point, Jordan could go wherever he wanted.

Nike had just one shot to salvage its deal with Michael Jordan: The Air Jordan III, which was now in Hatfield’s hands. Nike president Phil Knight didn’t know Hatfield well—and he didn’t necessarily trust him, since he’d worked for Moore. Jordan didn’t know Hatfield either. That was the first thing Hatfield had to change.

As soon as he could, Hatfield jumped on a plane to meet with Jordan. He needed to get a sense of who he was as a human, outside of basketball. Lately, Jordan had been buying suits, plus high-end leather shoes to go with them. Hatfield could see he had an eye for style and design that wasn’t entirely obvious to the public or reflected in the previous Air Jordans.

When Jordan talked about the styles and performance elements that he wanted in a shoe, Hatfield did something no other designer and executive had: He listened. A basic principle in architecture states that you can’t design a great house without knowing the people who will live in it. Hatfield applied this with Jordan. “I don’t think Michael had ever been worked with that way,” he told the Portland Tribune in 2005, “In fact, I don’t think anybody in the footwear business had done it that way.”

Both the Air Jordan and Air Jordan II were high-tops. Chatting with Hatfield, Jordan threw out an idea for a shoe that was less restrictive. Mid-tops existed, but they weren’t popular as far as basketball shoes went. They were seen as a compromise: less stable for the ankles than a high-top. But Jordan dreamed of a lighter shoe.

Hatfield kept hunting for inspiration wherever he could find it. Among Moore’s few prototype designs, Hatfield saw something exciting. The photo of Jordan that had been used to promote the last two shoes—jumping to dunk, legs split outward, ball in hand extended toward the basket—had been penciled out by Moore as a logo. The logo was buried in the files, never intended for use on apparel. Hatfield loved it and, without consulting anyone, he placed it on one of his first Jordan III designs.

Hatfield crafted a rough sample as quickly as he could. Another designer, Ron Dumas, took the sample and clarified Hatfield’s ideas. As Hatfield recalled: “No one slept for days.”

On the day of the presentation, Hatfield and Knight flew to California, where Jordan was golfing. When they arrived, they found Jordan’s parents waiting for them in a conference room. Jordan was still out on the fairways. Sitting next to the president of the company, Hatfield felt the enormity of what was about to happen start to sink in: “This,” he remembered, “is the biggest presentation of my life.”

airj.jpg
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Four hours later, Michael Jordan walked into the room. He wasn’t happy to be there. He had been golfing with Strasser and Moore, who’d recently given an incredible presentation on the new brand they wanted to launch. Now, they were on the verge of signing. “All right, show me what you got,” Jordan grumbled.

Hatfield stood up and started asking Jordan questions. He asked him to recall what he’d said earlier about the shoe’s height, its weight, about his Italian shoes and leather patterns. Hatfield started showing the sketches to Jordan, who was beginning to warm up: For the first time, someone had actually paid attention to what he wanted and needed. Jordan asked to see the sample.

Hatfield pulled a black cover off a lump on the table, and there it was: the concrete-elephant print lining. The soft, sturdy leather, the Nike Air bubble on the bottom. A lower, mid-rise cuff that distinguished it from virtually every other shoe on the planet. Instead of a giant Nike swoosh on the side, the side was clean. The swoosh had been relegated to the back. And in the front, on that oversize, plush shoe tongue: the Jumpman silhouette. It was a symbol, Hatfield explained, of who was at the forefront of the shoe—and the company.

Jordan grabbed the sneaker, smiling. He’d never seen the Jumpman logo as anything other than an idea. Now it beamed from the front of the sneaker, and Jordan loved it. But perhaps most important, someone had found a way to take his needs as a basketball player and his ideas as a fashion connoisseur and meld them into a single design, one that was distinct from anything else on the market. When Jordan started talking about different colorways for the shoe, Hatfield knew he was in.

“Phil Knight thinks I helped save Nike that day,” Hatfield has since said. “I don’t know if it’s true or not, but that’s his perception.”

The Air Jordan III hit shelves in February 1988, retailing for $100. They were the shoes Michael Jordan wore while famously winning the 1988 NBA Slam Dunk Contest—flying from the free throw line to the rim. They were also the shoes he donned for that year’s All-Star and league MVP awards. And, before long, they’d yielded one of the most iconic tag lines (“It’s gotta be the shoes!”) of any ad campaign in the Spike Lee–directed Mars Blackmon spots, starring Lee himself as Blackmon.

Jordan, of course, remained with Nike and has since collaborated with Hatfield on 19 iterations of Air Jordans (or “Js,” as they’re known), which have remained the most popular basketball shoe line in the history of the market and the most coveted sneakers in the known universe. The Jordan Brand subdivision of Nike made $2.25 billion in 2013 alone and accounts for nearly 60 percent of the American basketball shoe market. Today, Jordan refers to Hatfield as his “right-hand man” in all things design-related. Hatfield has since become vice president of design at Nike. He’s still taking inspiration from unconventional places (for the Jordan XI, he consistently cites a lawn mower).

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As for the original Air Jordan III, it’s been galvanized in rap and pop songs and is regularly ranked by sneakerhead publications as the greatest Air Jordan of all time. And in 2001, the Air Jordan III became the first Jordan to be rereleased (or “retroed,” in sneaker parlance) and sell out in full. In fact, the highly coveted limited-availability III is the shoe that sparked the robust sneaker-collecting culture that exists today.

None of this would have happened had Hatfield followed convention. Instead, he went rogue in the simple, revolutionary way that is shrugging off common wisdom: Maybe athletic shoes can be more than just functional, and stylish shoes can function beyond their form. It took an architect to bring that idea to light.

Years later, Hatfield would ask Jordan why he ended up staying with Nike. Jordan replied that two factors swayed his decision: the advice of his father—who told him to stay the course—and a gut feeling. Jordan could feel that someone had managed to tap into him as a three-dimensional human being and translate that personality into a pair of shoes. And that, to Jordan, was special. In other words? It’s gotta be the shoes.

Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan in 2014.jpg
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Jordan in April 2014
Charlotte Hornets
Position Owner
League NBA
Personal information
Born February 17, 1963 (age 58)
Brooklyn, New York
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Listed weight 216 lb (98 kg)[a]
Career information
High school Emsley A. Laney
(Wilmington, North Carolina)
College North Carolina (1981–1984)
NBA draft 1984 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3rd overall
Selected by the Chicago Bulls
Playing career 1984–1993, 1995–1998, 2001–2003
Position Shooting guard
Number 23, 12,[b] 45
Career history
19841993,
19951998
Chicago Bulls
20012003 Washington Wizards
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points 32,292 (30.1 ppg)
Rebounds 6,672 (6.2 rpg)
Assists 5,633 (5.3 apg)
Stats 
Edit this at Wikidata
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at NBA.com
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com
Basketball Hall of Fame as player
FIBA Hall of Fame as player
Medals
Men’s basketball
Representing the
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United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place
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1984 Los Angeles Men’s basketball
Gold medal – first place
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1992 Barcelona Men’s basketball
Tournament of the Americas
Gold medal – first place
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1992 Portland Men’s basketball
Pan American Games
Gold medal – first place
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1983 Caracas Men’s basketball

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Michael Jeffrey Jordan (born February 17, 1963), also known by his initials MJ,[9] is an American businessman and former professional basketball player. He is the principal owner and chairman of the Charlotte Hornets of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and of 23XI Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series. He played 15 seasons in the NBA, winning six championships with the Chicago Bulls. His biography on the official NBA website states: “By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.” He was integral in helping to popularize the NBA around the world in the 1980s and 1990s, becoming a global cultural icon in the process.

Jordan played college basketball for three seasons under coach Dean Smith with the North Carolina Tar Heels. As a freshman, he was a member of the Tar Heels’ national championship team in 1982. Jordan joined the Bulls in 1984 as the third overall draft pick, and quickly emerged as a league star, entertaining crowds with his prolific scoring while gaining a reputation as one of the game’s best defensive players. His leaping ability, demonstrated by performing slam dunks from the free throw line in Slam Dunk Contests, earned him the nicknames “Air Jordan” and “His Airness”. Jordan won his first NBA championship with the Bulls in 1991, and followed that achievement with titles in 1992 and 1993, securing a “three-peat“. Jordan abruptly retired from basketball before the 1993–94 NBA season to play Minor League Baseball, but returned to the Bulls in March 1995 and led them to three more championships in 1996, 1997, and 1998, as well as a then-record 72 regular season wins in the 1995–96 NBA season. He retired for a second time in January 1999 but returned for two more NBA seasons from 2001 to 2003 as a member of the Washington Wizards.

Jordan’s individual accolades and accomplishments include six NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards, ten scoring titles (both all-time records), five MVP Awards, ten All-NBA First Team designations, nine All-Defensive First Team honors, fourteen NBA All-Star Game selections, three All-Star Game MVP Awards, three steals titles, and the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. He holds the NBA records for career regular season scoring average (30.12 points per game) and career playoff scoring average (33.45 points per game). In 1999, he was named the 20th century’s greatest North American athlete by ESPN, and was second to Babe Ruth on the Associated Press‘ list of athletes of the century. Jordan was twice inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, once in 2009 for his individual career and again in 2010 as part of the 1992 United States men’s Olympic basketball team (“The Dream Team”). He became a member of the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2015.

One of the most effectively marketed athletes of his generation, Jordan is also known for his product endorsements. He fueled the success of Nike‘s Air Jordan sneakers, which were introduced in 1984 and remain popular today.[13] Jordan also starred as himself in the 1996 live-action animated film Space Jam, and is the central focus of the Emmy Award-winning documentary miniseries The Last Dance (2020). He became part-owner and head of basketball operations for the Charlotte Bobcats (now named the Hornets) in 2006, and bought a controlling interest in 2010. In 2014, Jordan became the first billionaire player in NBA history. With a net worth of $2.1 billion, he is the fourth-richest African American, behind Robert F. Smith, David Steward, and Oprah Winfrey.

Awards and honors

James Worthy, Jordan, and Dean Smith in 2007 at a North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball game honoring the 1957 and 1982 men’s basketball teams.

College

NBA

  • First team – 1987–1993, 1996–1998
  • Second team – 1985

Other

Post-retirement

Jordan on a golf course in 2007

After his third retirement, Jordan assumed that he would be able to return to his front office position as Director of Basketball Operations with the Wizards. However, his previous tenure in the Wizards’ front office had produced the aforementioned mixed results and may have also influenced the trade of Richard “Rip” Hamilton for Jerry Stackhouse, although Jordan was not technically Director of Basketball Operations in 2002.  On May 7, 2003, Wizards owner Abe Pollin fired Jordan as the team’s president of basketball operations. Jordan later stated that he felt betrayed, and that if he had known he would be fired upon retiring he never would have come back to play for the Wizards.

Jordan kept busy over the next few years. He stayed in shape, played golf in celebrity charity tournaments, and spent time with his family in Chicago. He also promoted his Jordan Brand clothing line and rode motorcycles.  Since 2004, Jordan has owned Michael Jordan Motorsports, a professional closed-course motorcycle road racing team that competed with two Suzukis in the premier Superbike championship sanctioned by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) until the end of the 2013 season.

Charlotte Bobcats / Hornets

On June 15, 2006, Jordan bought a minority stake in the Charlotte Bobcats (now known as the Hornets), becoming the team’s second-largest shareholder behind majority owner Robert L. Johnson. As part of the deal, Jordan took full control over the basketball side of the operation, with the title “Managing Member of Basketball Operations”. Despite Jordan’s previous success as an endorser, he has made an effort not to be included in Charlotte’s marketing campaigns. A decade earlier, Jordan had made a bid to become part-owner of Charlotte’s original NBA team, the Charlotte Hornets, but talks collapsed when owner George Shinn refused to give Jordan complete control of basketball operations.

In February 2010, it was reported that Jordan was seeking majority ownership of the Bobcats.[238] As February wore on, it became apparent that Jordan and former Houston Rockets president George Postolos were the leading contenders for ownership of the team. On February 27, the Bobcats announced that Johnson had reached an agreement with Jordan and his group, MJ Basketball Holdings, to buy the team from Johnson pending NBA approval. On March 17, the NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved Jordan’s purchase, making him the first former player to become the majority owner of an NBA team. It also made him the league’s only African-American majority owner.

During the 2019 NBA offseason, Jordan sold a minority piece of the Hornets to Gabe Plotkin and Daniel Sundheim, retaining the majority of the team for himself, as well as the role of chairman.

23XI Racing

On September 21, 2020, Jordan and NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin announced they would be fielding a NASCAR team with Bubba Wallace driving, beginning competition in the 2021 season. On October 22, the team’s name was confirmed to be 23XI Racing (pronounced twenty-three eleven) and the team’s entry will bear the number 23.

Personal life

Jordan receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama at the White House

Jordan is the fourth of five children. He has two older brothers, Larry Jordan and James R. Jordan Jr., one older sister, Deloris, and one younger sister, Roslyn. James retired in 2006 as the Command Sergeant Major of the 35th Signal Brigade of the XVIII Airborne Corps in the U.S. Army. Jordan’s nephew through Larry, Justin Jordan, played Division I basketball at UNC Greensboro and is a scout for the Charlotte Hornets.

Jordan married Juanita Vanoy in September 1989. They had two sons, Jeffrey and Marcus, and a daughter, Jasmine. The Jordans filed for divorce on January 4, 2002, citing irreconcilable differences, but reconciled shortly thereafter. They again filed for divorce and were granted a final decree of dissolution of marriage on December 29, 2006, commenting that the decision was made “mutually and amicably”. It is reported that Juanita received a $168 million settlement (equivalent to $213 million in 2019), making it the largest celebrity divorce settlement on public record at the time.

In 1991, Jordan purchased a lot in Highland Park, Illinois, on which he planned to build a 56,000 square-foot (5,200 m2) mansion. It was completed in 1995. He listed the mansion for sale in 2012.  His two sons attended Loyola Academy, a private Catholic school in Wilmette, Illinois.  Jeffrey graduated in 2007 and played his first collegiate basketball game for the University of Illinois on November 11, 2007. After two seasons, he left the Illinois basketball team in 2009. He later rejoined the team for a third season, then received a release to transfer to the University of Central Florida, where Marcus was attending. Marcus transferred to Whitney Young High School after his sophomore year at Loyola Academy and graduated in 2009. He began attending UCF in the fall of 2009,  and played three seasons of basketball for the school.

Jordan proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Cuban-American model Yvette Prieto, on Christmas 2011, and they were married on April 27, 2013, at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. It was announced on November 30, 2013, that the two were expecting their first child together. On February 11, 2014, Prieto gave birth to identical twin daughters named Victoria and Ysabel.  Jordan became a grandfather in 2019 when his daughter Jasmine gave birth to a son, whose father is professional basketball player Rakeem Christmas.

Media figure and business interests

Endorsements

Jordan in 2008

Jordan is one of the most marketed sports figures in history. He has been a major spokesman for such brands as Nike, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, Gatorade, McDonald’s, Ball Park Franks, Rayovac, Wheaties, Hanes, and MCIJordan has had a long relationship with Gatorade, appearing in over 20 commercials for the company since 1991, including the “Be Like Mike” commercials in which a song was sung by children wishing to be like Jordan.

Nike created a signature shoe for Jordan, called the Air Jordan, in 1984. One of Jordan’s more popular commercials for the shoe involved Spike Lee playing the part of Mars Blackmon. In the commercials, Lee, as Blackmon, attempted to find the source of Jordan’s abilities and became convinced that “it’s gotta be the shoes”. The hype and demand for the shoes even brought on a spate of “shoe-jackings” where people were robbed of their sneakers at gunpoint. Subsequently, Nike spun off the Jordan line into its own division named the “Jordan Brand”. The company features an impressive list of athletes and celebrities as endorsers. The brand has also sponsored college sports programs such as those of North Carolina, California, Georgetown, and Marquette.

Jordan also has been associated with the Looney Tunes cartoon characters. A Nike commercial shown during 1992’s Super Bowl XXVI featured Jordan and Bugs Bunny playing basketball. The Super Bowl commercial inspired the 1996 live action/animated film Space Jam, which starred Jordan and Bugs in a fictional story set during the former’s first retirement from basketball.  They have subsequently appeared together in several commercials for MCI.  Jordan also made an appearance in the music video for Michael Jackson‘s “Jam” (1992).

Jordan’s yearly income from the endorsements is estimated to be over $40 million.  In addition, when Jordan’s power at the ticket gates was at its highest point, the Bulls regularly sold out both their home and road games. Due to this, Jordan set records in player salary by signing annual contracts worth in excess of US$30 million per season.  An academic study found that Jordan’s first NBA comeback resulted in an increase in the market capitalization of his client firms of more than $1 billion.

Most of Jordan’s endorsement deals, including his first deal with Nike, were engineered by his agent, David Falk. Jordan has described Falk as “the best at what he does” and that “marketing-wise, he’s great. He’s the one who came up with the concept of ‘Air Jordan.'”

Business ventures

In June 2010, Jordan was ranked by Forbes magazine as the 20th-most powerful celebrity in the world with $55 million earned between June 2009 and June 2010. According to the Forbes article, Jordan Brand generates $1 billion in sales for Nike.  In June 2014, Jordan was named the first NBA player to become a billionaire, after he increased his stake in the Charlotte Hornets from 80% to 89.5%. On January 20, 2015, Jordan was honored with the Charlotte Business Journal’s Business Person of the Year for 2014.  In 2017, he became a part owner of the Miami Marlins of Major League Baseball.

Forbes designated Jordan as the athlete with the highest career earnings in 2017.  From his Jordan Brand income and endorsements, Jordan’s 2015 income was an estimated $110 million, the most of any retired athlete.  As of 2020, his net worth is estimated at $2.1 billion by Forbes,  making him the fourth-richest African-American, behind Robert F. Smith, David Steward, and Oprah Winfrey.

Jordan co-owns an automotive group which bears his name. The company has a Nissan dealership in Durham, North Carolina, acquired in 1990, and formerly had a LincolnMercury dealership from 1995 until its closure in June 2009.  The company also owned a Nissan franchise in Glen Burnie, Maryland.  The restaurant industry is another business interest of Jordan’s. His restaurants include a steakhouse in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, among others.  Jordan is the majority investor in a golf course, Grove XXIII, under construction in Hobe Sound, Florida.

In September 2020, Jordan became an investor and advisor for DraftKings.

Philanthropy

From 2001 to 2014, Jordan hosted an annual golf tournament, the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational, that raised money for various charities.  In 2006, Jordan and his wife Juanita pledged $5 million to Chicago’s Hales Franciscan High School.  The Jordan Brand has made donations to Habitat for Humanity and a Louisiana branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation named Jordan its Chief Wish Ambassador in 2008. Five years later, he granted his 200th wish for the organization. As of 2019, he has raised more than $5 million for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

In 2015, Jordan donated a settlement of undisclosed size from a lawsuit against supermarkets that had used his name without permission to 23 different Chicago charities. Jordan funded two Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Clinics in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2017 by giving $7 million, the biggest donation he had made at the time. One year later, after Hurricane Florence damaged parts of North Carolina, including his former hometown of Wilmington, Jordan donated $2 million to relief efforts. He gave $1 million to aid the Bahamas’ recovery following Hurricane Dorian in 2019.

On June 5, 2020, in the wake of the protests following the murder of George Floyd, Jordan and his brand announced in a joint statement that they will be donating $100 million over the next 10 years to organizations dedicated to “ensuring racial equality, social justice and greater access to education.”

Film and television

Jordan played himself in the 1996 comedy film Space Jam. The film received mixed reviews, but it was a box office success, making $230 million worldwide, and earned more than $1 billion through merchandise sales.[319]

In 2000, Jordan was the subject of an IMAX documentary about his career with the Chicago Bulls, especially the 1998 championship season, entitled Michael Jordan to the Max. Two decades later, the same period of Jordan’s life was covered in much greater and more personal detail by the Emmy Award-winning The Last Dance, a 10-part TV documentary which debuted on ESPN in April and May 2020. The Last Dance relied heavily on about 500 hours of candid film of Jordan’s and his teammates’ off-court activities which an NBA Entertainment crew had shot over the course of the 1997–98 NBA season for use in a documentary. The project was delayed for many years because Jordan had not yet given his permission for the footage to be used. He was interviewed at three homes associated with the production and did not want cameras in his home or on his plane as “there are certain aspects of his life that he wants to keep private”, according to director Jason Hehir. Jordan granted rapper Travis Scott permission to film a music video for his single “Franchise” at his home in Highland Park, Illinois “without hesitation.”

Books

Jordan has authored several books focusing on his life, basketball career, and world view.

  • Rare Air: Michael on Michael, with Mark Vancil and Walter Iooss (Harper San Francisco, 1993).
  • I Can’t Accept Not Trying: Michael Jordan on the Pursuit of Excellence, with Mark Vancil and Sandro Miller (Harper San Francisco, 1994).
  • For the Love of the Game: My Story, with Mark Vancil (Crown Publishers, 1998).
  • Driven from Within, with Mark Vancil (Atria Books, 2005).