Words by Phlip
Famously, Michael Jordan is the most highly compensated – and effective – shoe salesman that we’ve ever encountered. Let us not forget that the likes of Charles Hollis Taylor and Philip Hampson Knight had to start off with peddling their shoes hand to hand out of the back of cars and vans before their products took off. Noteworthy is that they’re both in (or headed to) the Basketball Hall of Fame as a result of their respective efforts.
Chuck Taylor revolutionized the basketball shoe (and the ball as well, but this post isn’t about that) and continued to serve it to the masses – including being the “official training sneaker of the US military” – from the time in 1921 when he walked into Converse and asked for a job and got it until he died.
Evident in how effective his shoes were are that the ONLY shoes you saw in the NBA were Chuck Taylors until Adidas came along. From birth (well, walking at about 11mo) until I was about 6 or 7, the ONLY sneakers I owned were Chuck Taylors, and most people I know today will say the same.
… then “it” happened.
By “it,” I mean the Peter More-designed Air Force 1-based Nike Air Jordan. Released in 1985 for $125 a pair, Jordan took to a color in the games that was not yet “allowed,” so the league fined him $5000 a game for wearing them. Nike ate this up and marketed them as the “banned” sneakers and sold them in bunches and, in such, paying the fines for him. A legend was born.
Gone were the “wear what the training staff puts on you” days. Nike now had a star athlete, upon whose popularity they could sell a LOT of expensive-ass shoes. That in mind, the supplemental income that a “shoe deal” creates makes it less noticeable that the best player in the universe was in the league 12 years before making more than the first pick in the draft gets today. But now you have the model in place where the player in question is not only an employee of the team he plays for, but of the shoe company endorsing him. Considering that, Michael Jordan was from that point on the highest-paid “employee” of Nike, company executives notwithstanding. He still is the highest paid “employee” over at Nike to this day, oddly enough.
And that is where this scribe takes us…
Michael Jordan made about $93.8million while playing in the NBA, and beefed that up to close to $800million on the back of all of the people wanting to ride his likeness to opulence, considering that he lost about $350mil of that in a divorce settlement to the one person most effective in riding him to opulence, he is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of half a billion. Famously, most of his money has come from Nike, in that they’re paying him TO THIS DAY $40-60 million a year of the roughly one billion his catalogue generates.
As co-founder and CEO of Nike, Phil Knight can consider Michael Jordan one of his employees. Phil Knight is believed to be worth somewhere between 11 and 13 BILLION. Yes, I know that Jordan is the “boss” in Charlotte, in that he is majority owner of an organization with a payroll of about $75million (considering a liberal estimate of players, staff and support employees), but only breaks him even or worse loses him a couple million annually if you believe the owners in the league – which I do not.
With that in mind, he can ONLY afford to stay in business at his side project in Charlotte as a result of the windfall he continues to make from his main job at Nike.
While I KNOW that MJ is not “one of us” when it comes to working a day job, sometimes the jerk in me needs to make up asinine situations where he is contacted by his boss and made miserable like the rest of us 9-to-5ers.
Queue the phone call…
Michael Jordan: “hello?”
Phil Knight: “hi Michael, good morning!”
MJ: *groans* “hi Phil… how goes it this morning”
PK: “not bad, just got delivery of the next shoe in your line… you got your pair yet?”
MJ: “no, but I haven’t checked the mail yet”
PK: “don’t… yours won’t be sent until next week sometime, maybe end of the month”
MJ: “must you rub it in every time, Phil?”
PK: “pretty much, yeah”
MJ: “you know other companies are paying me good money to represent their products, right?”
PK: “are kids lining up at Wal-Mart at midnight to fight over a chance to buy a Hanes t-shirt?”
MJ: “… no…”
PK: “right, and the fat kids that die over Sara Lee cakes has nothing to do with you.”
MJ: “okay, I’ll bite… to what do I owe the pleasure of this contact?” PK: “oh yeah… eat a dick, Mike.”
And you know what? Phil Knight is 12+ billion deep and Mike is on record as losing more than a third of a billion on a bad gamble one might refer to his first marriage as, so 3 hours later, he texts Phil back to inform him that he completed his orders and that a dick has been eaten.
In my simple little mean-spirited mind, this call happens about every other Thursday, and on consecutive Thursdays at the end of months with 5 Thursdays. Not that I have this perverse need or desire to denigrate famous and wealthy people, but–… well, yeah, I guess I do, if only to make him “one of us” for a few minutes while I enjoy my morning coffee and peruse the breasts splayed about my Tumblr Dashboard.