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Michael Jordan is one of the most iconic sports athletes of all time. Apart from being the first-ever sports athlete to become a billionaire, he is one of the most admired pop-culture icons of today’s generation. His life’s journey transcends the world of basketball as he now has become a global figure who inspires millions of people with his words, actions, and mindset.

The Chicago Bulls legend once made an extraordinary claim on a Netflix show which was not “The Last Dance”.

Michael Jordan’s Extraordinary Claim 

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The 2nd episode of the Netflix series “Abstract” talked about the legendary footwear designer Tinker Hatfield’s life’s journey. He was the footwear designer for Nike’s first “Air Jordans”. In the episode called “Tinker Hatfield: Footwear Design”, the 6x NBA champion Michael Jordan talks about his perception of the footwear legend.

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He says, “Tinker is a mad scientist. He came from pole vaulting. When I played the game it was about jumping, so, I mean, it was easy to find that synergy and great complement between the two of us.”. He further explains in the episode, “What we did as a team was we were able to build a product that sustained time. It catered to the athlete at the highest level, to the point that they can still play in the same shoe 30 years later.”.

Today, the “Jordan” brand has helped Nike reach new heights in the footwear industry. Nike, with the help of “Jordan”, has become a symbol of modern pop culture. The sales and business for “Jordan” shoes are one of the highest in the world today, all thanks to Tinker Hatfield’s creativity.

How Tinker Hatfield Saved Nike 

Tinker Hatfield, when young, was a college athlete who never had planned to become a footwear designer. In high school, he won some state championships and received a full athletic scholarship to the University of Oregon. That is where he met Bill Bowerman.

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Bill Bowerman was the then track coach for the University of Oregon but more importantly, he was one of the two founders of Nike. Tinker Hatfield further explains that Bill Bowerman had high expectations of him as he believed that Hatfield had the potential to become the next ‘pole-vaulting’ national champion. However, after suffering a career-ending ankle injury in college, Tinker Hatfield had to call it quits on his sports career.

Bill Bowerman would, however, build him special track spikes with a heel lift on one side because he was limping. This inspired Hatfield to become a footwear designer. He went on to create several iconic shoes for Nike. He has been serving as Nike’s ‘Vice President for Design and Special Projects’ for the last 40 years. One of his first projects as lead designer for Nike was the iconic “Nike Air Max” which had the iconic “transparent airbags at the heel” look. He created the “Air Trainer” which became Nike’s first cross-fit training shoes. 

Tinker Hatfield was able to break paradigms and change the demand for footwear through his creative designs. Phil Knight (the founder of Nike) holds immense respect for Tinker Hatfield, who had one of the most important roles to play in Nike’s becoming a multi-billion dollar empire.

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What are your thoughts on Michael Jordan’s “mad scientist” remark on Tinker Hatfield? Let us know in the comments below!