When you say the name Michael Jordan many rich descriptive words spring to mind. Icon, Legend, Godfather, Greatest of all time, and the list could go on. Never before, and not since, has one man had such a transformative and simultaneous impact on sports, business, and popular culture. MJ’s exploits on the basketball court are the stuff of legend.
6 championship rings
Multiple MVP awards
30ppg average (highest in the history of the NBA)
Jordan possessed arguably the greatest mental strength of any athlete in all of sports; and it is for these reasons that he is elevated and held up as the greatest of all time and the master of the game of basketball.
Or is it?
Does he have the most championship rings?
Does he have the Best record in the NBA finals?
Does he have the most MVP’s?
Does he have the most points in the history of the NBA?
Has he won the most games in the NBA?
That’s a NO to all of the above. So what is it? How can a man that doesn’t rank at the top for many KPI’s be considered the greatest of all time? The logical answer is that he shouldn’t.
Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.
So by logic, the greatest player is the guy who puts up the best numbers…right? Except, in sports, numbers aren’t everything. Don’t believe me? Rewind to the year 2000 when 6 different NFL teams drafted another quarterback ahead of Tom Brady. Fast Forward to today and 4 Super Bowl wins later, do you think those teams would like a do-over…?
Check out this great ESPN Documentary…The Brady 6
Sport is about much more than statistics, a great athlete posts great numbers, but great numbers don’t make an athlete great. The greats have something more, they evoke a feeling inside everyone watching that this individual right here, is capable of anything and as long as they are around, nothing is impossible.
In a lot of ways great athletes are like comic book heroes. A symbol of hope and belief that when your back is against the wall, and the darkness closes in, they are a way back to the light. By this benchmark, Michael Jordan is probably the greatest superhero of all time. A unique individual who stood for so much more than he could ever hope to live up to. Against a backdrop of racial tension across America sparked by the LA/Rodney King riots, here was a black man who crossed over and bridged the gap to white/corporate America.
Everybody wanted to Be Like Mike…and they still do!
Arguably, MJ’s biggest legacy isn’t in the trophy cabinet of the Chicago Bulls, or even in the scoring database of the NBA. Through his Jordan brand, his biggest impact has been on the feet of millions of men, women, and children around the world. Most sportsmen dream about endorsement deals; some go one better and get big enough to have their own signature line. CR7, Messi, LeBron, Kobe, and KD to name a few. It’s a rare thing that an athlete becomes so iconic and has the profile to transcend their sport to such a point where they create a brand. Nike are undisputed as the NO.1 sports brand on the planet. With $31bn in global annual revenue it’s a special individual that possesses the mental capacity to even dare to dream it, let alone at Nike! According to Forbes in March 2015, The Jordan brand (owned by Nike) generates $2.6bn in annual footwear sales in the U.S alone! (I’m shaking my head in disbelief even as I write this.)
So how do Nike generate billions of dollars every year from an athlete that retired 15 years ago?
Built on a foundation of a series of iconic footwear releases, the Jordan brand has created millions of passionate fanatics who live and breathe every release. Check out this fantastic article on 538.com about the secondary sneaker market.
It’s estimated that market is worth $250m annually, 90% of which is down to the Jordan brand.
“Now add that number up with the one I said before
and you are now looking at one smart black boy…” – Jay – Z
A true game changer, will we see another? Football is the biggest sport on the planet so maybe Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi or Neymar Jr could replicate his success? For the record I believe Neymar Jr is the closest star in football that could possibly make it happen, but here is what Nike themselves have to say when asked the same question…
“The game is defined by key moments and I think when we can link product innovation to key athletes, to key moments, that’s when the magic happens.”
– Phil McCartney Nike Global VP of Sports Performance
That’s corporate/pr speak for NO! A one of a kind human being who broke the mould of what a sportsman should and could be.
MICHAEL JEFFREY JORDAN
SUPER HERO , ICON, LEGEND , THE G.O.A.T