When Did Michael Jordan Sign for Nike? Contract Details, Current Sales, & More

Published 07/02/2021, 10:13 PM EDT
Basketball player Michael Jordan clenches his fist while sitting on the bench during a game at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. (Photo by © Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)


Michael Jordan is all about the superlatives because nothing below that can define any of his deals. The Chicago Bulls great took seven seasons to win his first NBA Championship but took no time in winning mega money contracts. 

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His first and easily the most important signing came from Phil Knight’s Nike. Walking in the shoes of legendary Walt “Clyde” Frazier, a youthful MJ signed the deal of his life as a rookie. What are the must-know facts from his career-defining contract that changed the sneaker game forever?

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Michael Jordan and his successful marriage with Nike

In 1984, Michael Jordan signed a contract with Nike as more of a legacy deal. In those days, when Converse and Adidas ruled the sneaker business, it was a bet that both Nike and MJ placed on each other. The iconic 5-year deal awarded Air Jordan USD 500,000 per year and also promised his own signature line.

Now, MJ went on to play each of the 82 games that season and averaged an unheard 28.2 points. He unanimously won the Rookie of the Year award and all that on-court success benefitted his shoe sales. 

In his rookie year as a shoe-selling face, Air Jordan sold $126 million worth of units. Nike’s first release of Jordans also faced some controversy when his shoes were banned for not meeting the design standards. But none of those things kept the marriage of Nike and MJ from thriving and breaking every record possible.

Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls during the 1997 McDonald’s Championship. (Photo by Dimitri Iundt/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)
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What are the current sales and performance?

16 years into his final retirement, MJ sold sneakers worth a whopping $130 million in 2019 alone. This was 4x of what LeBron James’ line sold in the same year, making Air Jordan the undisputed king of the shoe business. Moreover, this sale of Air Jordans captured 86% of the market, something that only one word can define perfectly: Monopoly.

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Jun 3, 2021; LeBron James reacts against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Jordan’s $2.1 billion net worth has a lot to credit Nike for it. In the fiscal year ending May 2019, 8% ($3.1 billion) of Nike’s annual revenue came from the selling of the Jumpman logo shoes. Also, the growth of MJ’s sneakers is nowhere close to going down. With the release of The Last Dance and the evergreen GOAT debate heating up, even Gen Z is now crazy about showing off their Jordans.

We only see greater success for MJ in the future. Do you agree with this and also do you own Air Jordans? Help us know in the comments.

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Watch this story – Michael Jordan’s Most Creative Ads for Nike and Other Brands

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Sourabh Singh

1431 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

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