Imagine living in a world where Michael Jordan’s iconic brand didn’t have the “Air Jordan” name.
It just doesn’t make much sense, right?
Well, as it turns out the legendary “Air Jordan” brand wasn’t the first name choice when Jordan and his agent, David Falk, were in negotiations with Nike back in 1984. In an interview with Darren Rovell, Falk broke down the details behind the talks and how they eventually landed on the name we all know today.
Jordan didn’t have his sights set on Nike as the brand he wanted to sign with. Instead, he was personally inclined to go with Adidas. He was so steadfast on that notion that he had to be convinced to get on a plane by his parents for the first of multiple meetings with Nike.
More on Michael Jordan
Once the Nike talks advanced to the point of negotiations, Falk told Nike that in order to sign Jordan to a deal it needed to treat the blossoming star like a tennis player and provide him with his own signature line of clothing and sneakers.
Nike executive Robert Strasser asked Falk what the signature line should be called, to which he quickly replied “Michael Jordan.”
A self-named brand for a player who had yet to touch the hardwood as a pro? Needless to say that Nike wasn’t really feeling it.
“He said, ‘look, we may be willing to do it, but you have to come up with a name and it cannot be Michael Jordan,'” Falk said as he recapped the exchange in the interview.
Falk says he was frustrated in the response but he immediately began to think up other solutions, and that’s when he came up with the name “Air Jordan.”
“Air because Nike’s just developed these new running shoes that have an Air technology that’s supposed to cushion your feet, and it’s a double entendre in the way Michael plays basketball — in the air,” Falk told the Nike execs.
Now with a name in mind, all that was left was to come up with a logo — and it didn’t take a multi-million dollar effort to make it all happen.
Peter Moore, who designed the timeless Air Jordan 1, pulled out a sketchpad during the meeting and in five minutes put together the “Air Jordan” wings logo that the brand still uses to this day.
The ‘Air Jordan’ wings logo, designed by Peter Moore, on the ankle of the Jordan 1.
“The rest is history,” Falk said.
Some 30-plus years later, Jordan Brand is now a billion-dollar company with an athletic roster that goes beyond basketball and into multiple other sports. His sneakers remain hot commodities, oftentimes selling out in a matter of minutes during sought-after releases.