Michael Jordan, LeBron James And Sneaker Money


Michael Jordan, LeBron James And Sneaker Money
Billions are made annually by sneaker companies off the names of Black athletes

AFRICANGLOBE – There’s a running debate in basketball that Michael Jordan made winners out of the players around him in Chicago, while LeBron James had to go join other winners in Miami to become a winner. The debate rages on, and the question will not be answered definitively until LeBron hangs up his sneakers.

We can agree on the impact that MJ, and now LeBron, have had on the  company that was originally known as Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS) and initially operated as a distributor for Japanese shoe maker Onitsuka Tiger (now ASICS).

With sales of $26 billion over the last year, Nike has leveraged the Jordan name to become the world’s most famous sports brand. One of every two basketball shoes sold in the U.S. last year carried the Jordan brand.

Factor in Nike-branded shoe sales into the mix, and Nike has a near monopoly in basketball with market share of 92 percent, according to SportsOneSource.

When he entered the NBA in 1984, Jordan signed a five-year, $2.5 million contract with Nike.  The U.S. Jordan brand now generates more than $1.75 billion globally, including apparel. The U.S. Jordan brand alone had $2.25 billion in U.S. retail basketball sales in 2013.  If you factor in sales of Jordan apparel, the international Jordan business and sales at Nike stores, the Jordan brand is contributing roughly $3 billion of annual revenue to Nike.

What’s In A Name?

Hard to argue with MJ’s decision to sell his name to Nike. While the terms of Jordan’s deal with Nike are a closely guarded secret, royalties generate approximately $75 million annually for MJ  according to sources.  That’s a lot of cheddar!

Michael Jordan, LeBron James And Sneaker Money
Jordan sneakers generate billions in revenue annually

Nineteen years after MJ’s first deal, LeBron signed a 7-year, $90 million endorsement contract out of high school.  LeBron re-upped with Nike in 2010 and while terms were not disclosed, Forbes estimates that the deal brings in $20 million annually, including royalties.

Imagine if MJ and King James developed facilities to make marquee shoes in the inner city instead of in facilities in Indonesia where children under 16 are paid like “slaves.”  With nearly $3.5 billion in combined sales, they’d rank second to World Wide Technology as the nation’s largest Black-owned business.

Such a bold move would change the conversation from whose contribution to the game is greater to who has done the most to help create winners from a lost generation of youngsters.

What has to happen for us to realize our true value?  To see the same value in “us” that others see?  What amount of destruction and tragedy has to beset us before we change and do things different?

Will we ever learn?


By: Everett L. Glenn


7AM – The Wake Up Call