If you’re familiar with the the story of how Michael Jordan was landed by Nike back in 1984, you know that both Converse and Adidas played a pretty big role. Converse paid then UNC Coach Dean Smith $10,000 a year to dress his players in the classic basketball brand; Adidas, Jordan’s preference, was caught at a bad time, as per Darren Rovell for ESPN GO. When it came time for another meeting for a shoe deal, it was Converse knocking on the door.
Michael didn’t want to show up at Converse headquarters, but because of his relationship with Smith, he went.
“We’re sitting in the conference room and they’re saying things like, ‘We are basketball,’” Jordan’s agent David Falk recalled. “They’re telling us that they have Magic, Bird, Dr. J and Mark Aguirre.”
According to Joe Dean, who was in charge of Converse’s marketing at the time, Michael was supremely interested in the company’s pitch.
“I give him a lot of credit,” Dean said. “He was asking, ‘With all these stars, where do I fit into the conversation?’”
John O’Neil, the president of Converse, took that question.
“We’ll treat you like all our other superstars,” Dean remembered O’Neil saying, offering him a financial package of about $100,000 a year, commensurate with what the top players were earning at the time.
Michael’s father, James, wanted in.
“Don’t you guys have any new, innovative ideas?” he asked.
All of this happened in 1984, shortly after a young Michael Jordan would return from winning the gold medal in Los Angeles during the 1984 Olympics and forego his senior year at North Carolina to enter the NBA Draft. Up until then, Jordan was often seen playing in Converse sneakers. These are the last pair, before “Air” would impose his ever-growing legacy on fashion and sneaker culture on the world by way of Nike.
Now, thanks to a man — who’d like to remain anonymous– that was a ball boy during the ’84 Olympic games, the autographed shoes are up for auction by way of Grey Flannel Auctions.
Bidding for the shoes will start at $5,000, the same price Grey Flannel started at for the shoes it sold from Jordan’s famous “Flu Game” shoes from the 1997 NBA Finals. Those shoes sold for $104,765 in December, a record for the highest price ever paid for a pair of Air Jordans.
–Jamaal Fisher (@jamaalfisher)
Hit SOURCE360’s New York City Sneaker Summit to possibly find these and other rare Air Jordans. Tickets available (HERE)