I don’t know about you, but I love my Jordans. I wear them every time I head to the court and I hate to play in anything else. So, you can imagine my surprise when I read that the man himself, Sir Michael Jordan, cannot have a say in which of his Charlotte Hornets should get a shoe deal.
So the reasoning behind this decision is that team owner Jordan might give himself a recruiting advantage by suggesting to a player that he could get a salary bump for playing in a pair of Jordan’s shoes. The reason the powers are keeping an eye on side deals like this is because they have already happened with other teams. The Clippers offered DeAndre Jordan a $200,000 sponsorship with Lexus, a brand of cars, and the deal led to a major fine for the team.
A new rule was instated back in 2010, back when Jordan became the owner of the Hornets. The rule was essentially a border that Nike and Jordan were not allowed to cross; Nike would make business decisions independently of the team and Jordan would not have a chance to use his popular shoe to his advantage. The rule doesn’t just apply to the Clippers; this boundary keeps any player on a team from signing an endorsement with any company associated with their team’s owner.
It must come as a real shock to the players that hooping for Jordan does not mean mountains of free shoes. The Jordan shoe is sold in Nike stores around the country as a separate division of the sports brand. The footwear with the Jordan name on it makes billions of dollars every year and have maintained popularity since their release in 1997. Jordan shoes dominate the market with 58% of basketball shoes sold in 2014 being Jordans. As I already mentioned, I definitely love my pair and I have plenty of friends who wear theirs on a daily basis.
However, the interesting part of all of this is that a Hornets player can still get a shoe deal, just so long as Jordan the person stays out of it. In fact, some players have already been bestowed with the honor of representing Jordan the shoe. Both Cody Zeller and Micheal Kidd-Gilchrist are currently paid to play for Jordan and wear his name on their feet; not a bad deal. After three years of experience on the team, Kidd-Gilchrist has also just inked a $52 million deal to stay with the Hornets for the next four years – wearing the proper shoes, of course.
While the NBA doesn’t want to keep anyone from their millions, they do hope that their salary cap can be free of loopholes, which is why this separation of brand and team is in place. Players are already having truck-loads of money being driven to their houses, imagine if brand deals were right behind the original contracts. The chance to play ball for a living is sweet, but the NBA wants to keep a much tighter hold on how recruiters and players do business these days.
Will new rules keep developing? It’s hard to say. Basketball is so huge and so popular that it can be difficult to imagine anyone hitting the brakes. But, if an 18 year-old baller can be given millions to play for his childhood hero’s team, anything can happen.