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One-on-One with Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan sits down for an exclusive interview with Marvin R. Shanken, Editor and Publisher of Cigar Aficionado.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Michael Jordan, July/August 2005

(continued from page 7)

Competitiveness. Design. Creativity. Style. Those are all the things that make up my personality. And they have been turned into a product that sells. The public has received that message consistently each and every time. That has aided the success of the brand.

Once the brand had evolved into something of significance, we decided to see if we could create its own foundation, separate from Nike. We wanted to give it an appearance of two entities, with Nike as the parent company and Brand Jordan as a subsidiary. I was given the opportunity to get involved at a hands-on level, touching, creating, approving everything that has the Jumpman on it. We took Nike off the brand, and put the Jumpman on the brand to see if the public would receive us properly. And they have. With that move, we have been able to expand, not just in basketball, but in baseball, football, boxing and outside of sports, too, like a Ralph Lauren or Tommy Hilfiger or those type of brands.

Even though Nike was not that edgy and not that stylish, but more traditional, they gave me an opportunity to expand on the more creative stuff. They controlled 80 percent of the basketball industry, but they knew, just because of consumer preferences, it would be tough to get more than 80 percent. So they created this other brand to capitalize, and it proved to be the correct way to do it.

MRS: Aren't you a worldwide brand today?
JORDAN: All over the world. And today, Brand Jordan is a $485 million business.

MRS: Do you have any official responsibilities? Are you a corporate officer?
JORDAN: No, I maintain my independent endorser status. But I approve all the decisions for Brand Jordan.

MRS: Do you get a salary and royalties, so as the brand grows, your royalties grow? If you want a junior partner, I'm available.
JORDAN: I haven't seen you in shorts yet.

MRS: [Laughter] I got a feeling if that's a condition, I'm out. Let's move on. When did you decide that the last chapter, or in an important future chapter, you should be an NBA owner instead of just a player or an endorser?
JORDAN: It was an acquired taste. When I came in as a player, I was dumbfounded by the business aspect, but I learned about the business of basketball during the 20 years I was involved. I created an appetite in myself to still have an impact on the game and have an influence on the game from a managerial position. I managed a team for a couple of years. I felt like I did a good job with the Washington Wizards, contrary to what people may think. Because of that experience, I still want to have an impact on a basketball team, but I want to do it from an ownership position. I want to have a longtime connection with the game of basketball.

MRS: Is that because you see yourself as a businessman, or because you saw things done by management that were good or bad, that you might have changed?
JORDAN: Exactly. Yes, I consider myself a businessperson, and yes, I felt like certain things happened that if I was in ownership, I would have done it differently. I would have made decisions totally differently.

MRS: They say that from every experience, good or bad, there is a valuable lesson learned. What lessons did you take out of the Washington Wizards?
JORDAN: I think it exposed me to a lot of decision making. One of the bad decisions I made was to go back and play. Even though I was soothing an itch that I had, I also thought I was being innovative in my job by going down and evaluating the talent firsthand. I thought it would be a good idea to play against them, see what their tendencies were and what we were paying for. But at the same time, I became more critical of them because of the way I played the game and the way I'd approached the game, and the players didn't respond to that. They didn't respond to the desire that I had when I was playing. I may just have gotten too close to see or maybe too critical of certain actions of the players. That was one of the biggest mistakes that I feel I made in Washington.

You go in with initiative, and you go into a program that needs guidance, and you have to find out what the agenda may be. With the Washington situation, there was an agenda. They were well over the cap and they were losing money.


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Comments   1 comment(s)

Ron Comrie — Lakewood Ranch, Florida, United States,  —  December 26, 2012 1:49pm ET

Can you please tell me the name/style of the Movado watch Michael Jordan is wearing on the cover photo? Thanks.


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