Alternate Universes
May 04, 2020

Michael Jordan was actually wearing New Balances in the photo that inspired the Jordan logo

Michael Jordan Celebrates the 30th Anniversary of Air Jordan At Palais de Tokyo In Paris

Catherine Steenkeste

Episodes five and six of 'The Last Dance' are officially in the books. For basketball fans and sports-deprived souls across the globe, that means we are over halfway home (and over halfway to having nothing left to talk about on Monday mornings.) There have been grumblings about its ADHD storytelling and ultimate lack of new and/or revelatory stuff, but that's beside the point right now. Good, bad or somewhere in between (it's somewhere in between), we need this right now like we need air to breathe.

Besides, whatever 'The Last Dance' lacks in the new or noteworthy the category, the internet has more than made up for, expounding on the juicy details of each episode in the ways that the documentary makers either can't or won't. This week, one such topic is Michael Jordan's relationship with Nike. In the fifth episode, 'The Last Dance' paints Jordan's evolution from man to brand as relatively straightforward. He didn't want to sign with Converse and Adidas didn't work out. His mother talked him into sitting down with Nike. The rest, as they say was history.

But did you know thatthe iconic image that inspired the same Jordan brand logo emblazoned on the feet of basketball fans from Chicago to Hong Kong, actually features Michael Jordan in New Balances? Well, now you do.

jordan-new-balance-jumpman-photo-3.jpg

The photo, taken in 1984, has made headlines before, namely when photographer Jacobus Rentmeester sued Nike for violating copyright and using the image beyond the originally terms of the agreement, but the New Balance sneaks provide an interesting footnote (get it?) to another Michael Monday. Can you imagine a world where the Bulls brand was headquartered in Boston? Can you picture New Balance's logo slapped all over 'Space Jam'? What if up was down and black was white? Big questions for another day, but given the $145 million Michael Jordan earned from his eponymous apparel in 2019, it's safe to say he made the right decision.