Few athletes if any have had a cultural impact like Michael Jordan. He might have left basketball 15 years ago, but he remains a heavy influence on players and fans alike. Not only did he wow fans on the court, but he became a brand of his own before he had his own sneaker line.
We are incapable of escaping the shadow of Michael Jordan in the game today. Beyond the dozens of players sporting Jumpman branded Nikes, no measure of greatness comes without a comparison to MJ. For all of his achievements throughout his career, Lebron James seemingly cannot escape His Airness. He has gone to seven straight NBA Finals, winning three championships along the way, however, every argument ends with “but Jordan never lost in the finals.” It does not help that he wears Jordan’s number 23. We are continually looking for the “next Jordan” but reject the notion that he has been in front of our eyes since 2003.
In addition, Jordan resonates with the younger generation of players because of his famed sneaker line. Air Jordan’s raised the game of athlete endorsements to such a level that Nike spun his shoes off into its own brand. The Jumpman logo has become iconic in itself. Players have their own signature shoes carry the Jumpman logo on them. Marquee players such as Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and Kawhi Leonard all rock Jordans.
Chris Paul said, “I think the biggest thing I want to see from the brand in the future is to push the culture forward and just keep being proactive and lead.”
It did not hurt that Jordan had an impact on televisions and movie theaters around the world too. His Gatorade and Nike ads became masterfully timeless. Space Jam, a film which received mixed reviews from critics, is absolutely delightful and rewatchable two decades later. We annually hear about a possible sequel starring a new NBA star. The problem is, its impossible to replace Jordan. There’s only one Michael Jordan, and we will continue to feel his impact for decades.