Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 28, 2011 10:10 AM
Everybody loves Michael Jordan, right? The ultimate brand spokesman, who won six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls, has been affiliated with a slew of brands in his 48 years: Nike (which produces his lucrative Jordan Brand line), Coca-Cola, Gatorade, MCI, McDonald’s, Chevrolet, Wheaties, Rayovac, Ball Park Franks, and Hanes.
Since March of 2010, he’s been the majority owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats, the first former player to hold such a title. Since he’s seen both sides of the coin, you’d think that when the NBA lockout occurred, Jordan would have been able to help broker a deal between the players and his fellow owners.
Instead, Jordan went hard-line against the players, not wanting to give in an inch, and reportedly getting fined by the NBA for his public comments. Now that the lockout's end is looming, one wonders how much his sudden tough-guy appearance hurt his brand.
It depends on whom you ask. Several current players, such as Brandon Rush of the Indiana Pacers, said they will no longer wear Jordan gear. But one player, Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat, who happens to be the first person to be the pitchman for Air Jordans other than Michael, was wearing a Jordan Brand shirt while talking to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, stood by Jordan. "I really didn't need to get involved in all that," Wade told the paper. "Obviously I wear a different hat than certain other guys that got involved in it. And I stay away from it. I have an obligation and I have a job to do and I'm going to do my job."
And it’s not just his popularity among players that could take a hit. Agents for players that will become free agents whenever the lockout is officially over are supposedly saying they will steer players away from signing with Jordan’s Bobcats and a few other teams that have owners that have been less friendly toward the idea of negotiating, according to Hoopsworld.
One wonders if anyone, other than the other wealthy NBA owners, still wants to “Be Like Mike” these days.