Former Adidas employee tells why the sportswear company didn’t sponsor Michael Jordan in 1984

By Minda Smiley | Reporter

Wall Street Journal


Adidas article

March 25, 2015 | 2 min read

A former employee of sports apparel company Adidas has opened up to the Wall Street Journal about why the brand passed on a sponsorship deal with basketball legend Michael Jordan.

The source, apparently a former distributor who has not been named by the publication, claimed that when Jordan was playing for the University of North Carolina, he wanted a sponsorship deal with Adidas when he went professional.

It is reported that the brand wanted to endorse Jordan, however executives in Germany decided shoppers would prefer taller players and wanted to sponsor centers instead.

The source reportedly told the Journal: “We kept saying, ‘no—no one can relate to those guys. Who can associate with a seven-foot-tall guy?”

The latest marketing news and insights straight to your inbox.

Get the best of The Drum by choosing from a series of great email briefings, whether that’s daily news, weekly recaps or deep dives into media or creativity.

Sign up

Instead, the company chose to sponsor centers including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whose sneakers Adidas still sells today.

Jordan chose to sign with Nike that year, resulting in the creation of Nike Jordan - one of the most popular trainer brands in history which are still being made today.


Content created with:

More from Sponsorship

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +