“NBA Can’t Stop You”: Michael Jordan Destroyed The League in This Scathing Ad

Published 10/19/2021, 10:21 AM EDT
PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 12: In this handout image provided by Jordan Brand, Michael Jordan paid a visit to Palais 23 this afternoon on Friday June 12, Joined by his frequent partners-in-design Tinker Hatfield and Mark Smith, key figures in the 30-year evolution of the Air Jordan, Jordan has returned to Paris to mark the 30th anniversary of 1985’s Air Jordan One. Palais 23 is a spectacular tribute to the shoes, moments, designs and artifacts that have shaped the 30-year evolution of the Air Jordan. (Photo by Jordan Brand via Getty Images)


Today marks the 37th anniversary of the day when the NBA banned Michael Jordan’s first line of shoes. Since the NBA’s dress code mandated the use of white shoes only at the time. In 1984, when Michael Jordan was only a new player in the league, Nike took an enormous risk on him but it is paying off to date. Michael Jordan was a gifted player from the start of his career. Consequently, Nike took a chance on Jordan and inked a one-of-a-kind deal with him to develop his own brand of sneakers.

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Nike’s well-known trick at the time was to pay Jordan’s $5000 fine every time he wore the new shoes on the court. They made this into a television commercial that capitalized on the shoes’ rebellious nature.

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The Ad had a silent Michael Jordan dribbling the ball and a voice-over that narrated the incident. The voice-over said, “On September 15, Nike created a revolutionary new basketball shoe. On October 18, the NBA threw them out of the game. Fortunately, the NBA can’t stop you from wearing them. Air Jordans. From Nike.”

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The initial 50,000 pairs of Air Jordans (now known as Air Jordan I) got sold out quickly. This marketing approach, which was implemented in response to the NBA ban, proved to be one of the most successful marketing campaigns of all time. This resulted in more than $150 million in sales.

What did this mean for Michael Jordan and the NBA?

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Michael Jordan was one of the first players in the NBA to be associated with a product from the start. The public’s desire to acquire a piece of the action grew because of his great on-court performances and ability to ‘fly.’

The Bulls’ Michael Jordan drives to the basket as teammate Dennis Rodman and the Clippers’ Loy Vaught(left) look on during game at Sports Arena earlier this season. (Photo by Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Ever since time immemorial, Sports athletes and fashion have always gone hand in hand. Be it for taking a stand against social norms and stigmas or for making a statement about individual liberation. These two industries have always been interdependent. And for the NBA, Michael Jordan was the pioneer of individual liberation and recognizing the value of an individual more than just the teams.

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Watch This Story: Looking Back at The Sneakers Michael Jordan Donned En route to His Six NBA Championships

 

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Chaitanya Dadhwal

354 articles

Chaitanya Dadhwal is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Even though his journalism is driven by his desire to understand both sides of an argument and give a neutral perspective, he is biased towards Houston Rockets and Arsenal, and he has shown exactly how loyal he can be through tough times. Currently a Law student at Jindal Global Law School, he aims to have his own sports management firm one day and enjoys rap music during his time off.

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