This ties into why Clippers offering DeAndre Jordan a $200,000 a year sponsorship with Lexus led to a $250,000 fine…
Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan shoe brand through Nike dominates the market — 58 percent of basketball shoes sold last year were Jordans. That 13 times more than LeBron James, who has the best selling shoe among active players. Nike owns 95.5 percent of the basketball shoe market (according to Forbes).
One of the NBA’s concerns with Michael Jordan as the owner of the Charlotte Hornets is that he could supplement players’ salaries with shoe deals. So the NBA cut that option off, reports Darren Rovell of ESPN.
This isn’t just a Jordan rule, pretty much any NBA owner could pull off something similar (at least Ballmer didn’t offer a Microsoft endorsement). The rule is there for a reason.
The Jordan brand is well managed and not hurting in the least. It still has deals with Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony and nearly two dozen more current and former NBA players. There are Hornets — Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller — on that list.
In fact, Kidd-Gilchrist just took what could be seen as a below-market $52 million contract extension to stay in Charlotte. Not that there was any quid pro quo here, but the NBA wants to avoid that appearance.
It’s easy to understand the NBA’s concern — if Jordan could say “I’ll pay you a couple hundred thousand extra to wear my shoes” it would be an unfair recruiting advantage. So they are trying to tie his hands.
Not that it is impacting shoe sales, or how much Jordan rakes in from Nike.