The Incredible Impact of Michael Jordan

We all knew we were witnessing something special nobody had ever seen before. The greatest player ever born. Like there were the greats before [Michael Jordan], he took the torch and lit up the world. My son knew his entire name when he was three years old. He inspires kids, they want to learn his story, the history, the stats, and how he did it. And no one in sports has ever really done what he’s done with sports apparel and his sneakers” (3).

These words about Michael Jordan were spoken by Nasir Jones, also known as Nas, who is known as a hip-hop artist by many. As he stated, Michael had an immense impact on many, but how he did it is quite intriguing. Michael Jordan was born in Brooklyn, New York, on February 17, 1963.

He attended high school in Wilmington, North Carolina, and later on went to the University of North Carolina, which is also referred to as UNC. After his Junior year in college, Michael declared for the NBA (National Basketball Association) draft.

He was selected third overall by the Chicago Bulls. Many refer to him as one of the best basketball scorers, defenders, dunkers, and players of all time. He may very well be best known for his ability to make difficult mid-range shots. Michael was really athletic in his time as a basketball player. One thing that was very helpful with the gaining of his popularity was his dunks and jumping ability.

This helped him earn the name “Air Jordan” which has become the name of his exceptionally successful brand (1).

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Sergio Hernandez, who was the head coach for the Olympic Argentinian basketball team, had strong words about the essence of Jordan. “His playing style was the best in history for many factors–not only was he a great offensive player but also one of the best defensive players ever. Details like this were shown through his added factors such as effort, defense and work to resolve issues that went beyond his enormous offensive talent which he did purely and exclusively for the collective benefit of the team” (2). Michael Jordan’s nature and unique marketing abilities have led to an extensive impact on different cultures and time periods around the world. Many believe that Jordan is the best to ever play, and perhaps one of the most influential athletes, and even people, to ever live.

Brian O’Connor, who is the Vice President of Global Jordan Brand Marketing, explains his admiration for Jordan. “What’s so unique about [Michael Jordan] is that he truly has a global legacy, and we hear the same message about him wherever we go – that he represents greatness” (2). Because of Jordan’s athletic ability and overall influence on the world, he truly inspired millions of people. Elton Brand, who is a former NBA player and current general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers, also has had a similar experience with Jordan. “As kids it seemed like the ultimate hero story. No matter how much he’s down or what the odds were, he would find a way to win.” It is apparent that Jordan has reached a level where almost everyone who is interested in the sport of basketball, or even sports in general, looks up to him. This includes children such as Elton, regular adults, and also coaches and players who Michael had played during his career.

During Michael’s 15 season career, he received many awards due to his tremendous accomplishments. After his sophomore year at UNC, he was awarded the Sporting News College Player of the Year. He also received the award at the end of his junior year, along with the Naismith and Wooden Award. Michael went on to win a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, California, and he also received the NBA Rookie of the Year award (1). By the 1992 Olympics, where he had won another gold medal, Michael was extremely popular. He was 8 years into his career and already had inspired many people around the world to play and watch basketball (2). At the end of his career, he had led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships, was awarded the Most Valuable Player award five times, and he was named an NBA All-Star fourteen times (1). In the 1987-1988 season, Jordan won every major NBA award including the Most Valuable Player award, Defensive Player of the Year award, and also the All-Star Most Valuable Player award (6).

He averaged an NBA record 30.1 points per game during his career and finished with 32,292 points (1). Sergio Hernandez had much praise for Jordan, and drew a conclusion that his accomplishments were because of his hard work. “Michael Jordan was the one who showed us all that the combination of talent and work is the real secret. He never fell asleep in that and he constantly strengthened and nourished it to the point that it was one of the key factors to take him to be the best in history. That is his legacy. Sometimes we think that only talent will take you to incredible places, but the reality is that you have to combine it with a lot of work to get to the top” (2). As Hernandez had said, it takes a significant amount of hard work in order to succeed, and Jordan was no exception. Because of his grit and “hard work leads to success” mindset, Jordan was able to appeal to fans and influence society as a whole.

His accomplishments overall style made him a role model and icon for basketball across the globe. Michael had a specific clause in his contract with the Chicago Bulls that let him tour the world in the offseason to promote the game of basketball. He was the first athlete to ever have such a unique policy in their contract (1). His trips overseas to promote the game of basketball, his shoe brand, and himself have now become standard code for every shoe brand. Every brand sends their athlete ambassadors to places where exposure to basketball and basketball shoes is necessary, such as Japan and China (3). Now, it is almost an expectation to see children wagging their tongues as Jordan did, or backing into their defenders before making a move when playing in the post. The massive popularity of the game in China is mostly because of Jordan (8). Elton Brand had also experienced the massive “Jordan Wave” during his childhood. “My brother told me guys were wearing bald heads, and I laughed because I’m a kid then. Bald heads? Why would you wanna wear bald heads? But Michael made it fashionable, mainstream. Because you go back to ’80s, early ’90s guys. Guys with hoop earrings in their ears.

That’s all Michael” (5). Jordan’s influence had led to many minor changes, such as other players shaving their heads. He was such a force in the NBA that the fans of other teams were ostensibly satisfied if their team was to lose to Jordan if he had put on a show (6). Michael also had an aspect about him that brought different cultures together. Touré, a journalist for the National Broadcasting Company, concluded that Jordan was partially responsible for integration between some cultures. “The moment where you have a Michael Jordan ad where lots of little white kids are saying, ‘I want to be like Mike.’ That is an extraordinary, watershed moment. I don’t think that was happening before” (5). Michael Jordan changed the lives of many people because of his ability to become a role model and refine his image. When Jordan started playing in the NBA, he had an immediate impact. The attendance at the Chicago Stadium rose 87% from the prior season to his rookie season.

Right away, he sparked a never-before-seen global interest in the game of basketball (1). When he first retired in 1993 to play baseball after three straight Most Valuable Player awards and NBA championships to play baseball, the lack of his presence was felt very heavily. Television ratings for the NBA dropped tremendously. He might have very well been bored. Basketball was simply too easy for him. This also goes for his second retirement. Michael Jordan was simply too good at basketball, and the world felt it when he retired for the second time. Television ratings dropped even further because Jordan was what the fans wanted to see (7). They watched entire games just for the sole purpose of watching Jordan play. Because Jordan had such an influence on the league, he was one of the first people to show his support for Magic Johnson when he was diagnosed with the HIV virus. “He was the first one to write a check to the foundation and be a part of it.

Embracing me at the 1992 All-Star Game and signaling it was OK to embrace those with the disease. Because it was his league. Everything was centered around Michael and what Michael thought, what Michael did. When he came over, that just relaxed everybody else. He opened the door for the world to accept. Not just those guys, but that was a worldwide thing because Michael Jordan was the biggest thing in the world” (5). Michael had a charisma about him that whenever he said or did anything, everyone would agree and follow him. If Jordan did it, everyone would agree because he earned a level of respect from every player and coach that no player had ever received. Jordan was one who set the trends in the NBA then, and also the NBA now. During the 1980s, the NBA players wore really tight, small shorts that went up to about a player’s thighs (8). Michael, who was very attached to his old college team, wore his UNC shorts under his Bulls shorts which caused him to wear baggier shorts. Soon after, the whole league and later the whole sports of basketball followed after him (6).

Another way to see how Michael Jordan impacted the NBA today is Donovan Mitchell, a guard for the Utah Jazz. Like Jordan, Mitchell played baseball growing up. He wears number 45 to honor Jordan’s number when he played baseball for the Birmingham Barons. He wasn’t even alive when Jordan played (3). Chris Paul, a guard for the Houston Rockets and Jordan Brand member, knows how heavily Jordan has impacted the league. “MJ will always be a staple on the NBA because guys care about how they look when they play and what shoes they wear on-court. MJ had a flare and style about him when he played” (3). Jordan was the reason why players care about their looks on the court. He set a trend by wearing cool sneakers and coordinating colors of his accessories that he wore. He also made it normal for athletes to have deals with movie companies since he had a deal with Warner Bros. (3). Any athletes that own their own hotels and gyms are because of Jordan. He was one of the first athletes to do so, and now it is deemed normal (8). With the help of marketing executive Sonny Vacarro, sports agent David Falk, and shoe designer Peter Moore, something was created that has changed the world forever.

A shoe, just simply red, black, and white, has nearly become as important to the world as the game of basketball itself (4). When Jordan started wearing his own shoes, he instantly “became” Air Jordan (4). The shoe is one of the most apparent reasons as to why Jordan is still quite connected to the NBA today. His famous logo can be recognized on some player’s shoes or on the uniforms of the Charlotte Hornets (3). Once the shoes went onto the market, everyone who knew about them went crazy for them, like LaMarcus Aldridge, a forward for the San Antonio Spurs. ‘Growing up in my neighborhood, [Jordans] were kind of like the Holy Grail. I couldn’t afford them. So just being able to work and save up the money to actually buy them was huge” (4). As Aldridge has indicted, Jordan shoes created a culture. Many of the people who wear his shoes have never seen him play (8). Blake Griffin, a forward for the Detroit Pistons, is a Jordan shoe enthusiast, and also has a deal with Jordan Brand. “To say that Air Jordan sneakers are iconic would be an understatement. MJ and his sneakers have influenced kids and adults around the world. To have that kind of impact 30-plus years after his career began is crazy” (2).

Michael Jordan truly reached a level of popularity in something that nobody had ever seen before, so the result was obviously astronomical. So many of the Jordan shoes are iconic and popular due to the moments and games that they may be tied to, such as the “Flu Games”, “Banned”, and “Olympics” (3). Another reason for the extensive influence of the Jordan shoes is Michael’s ability to switch from athletes to celebrities in terms of ambassadors for the Jordan Brand. More people have been hooked into the brand after seeing actor Will Smith wear a pair of the shoes in an episode of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”, and hip-hop stars such as DJ Khaled, Nas, and Drake in them (3). Interestingly, Jordan is still earning over 60 million dollars in shoe sales per year (7). Because of a simple red, black, and white shoe, athletic shoes are generating about 62 billion dollars per year (8). Due to Michael Jordan’s nature and unique marketing abilities, he has influenced many different cultures and time periods around the world. He forever changed the NBA then, and certainly has had much impact on the NBA now. Anyone who had cheered for Jordan or watched him compete with other NBA players and at the Olympics has learned something from him, or has felt an impact from him. Anyone who enjoys athletic shoes has been impacted by him.

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The Incredible Impact of Michael Jordan. (2022, Feb 24). Retrieved from

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