If you’re familiar with Michael Jordan and Jordan Brand, then you’ve certainly seen the iconic “Jumpman” logo over the years. It’s hard to miss as it’s on clothing, shoes, courts and anything else related to the GOAT.
The silhouette of Jordan jumping through the sky is perfect. It represents everything about Jordan’s game as he soared through the lane, splitting the defenders on his way to a bucket. But how did that logo come about? Well, it’s actually a very interesting story.
Before the Air Jordan I made its debut in 1985, Jordan wore Converse in his college career and then New Balance as he played for Team USA at the 1984 Olympic Games. Before those games, there was a photo shoot with Jordan jumping through the air. In that photo shoot, Jordan was actually wearing New Balances.
Austin Scotti, the marketing manager at KITH, broke that story down in this Instagram post on Sunday ahead of episodes 5 and 6 of “The Last Dance”:
View this post on Instagram
The Jumpman logo was inspired by a photo of MJ from 1984 for the Olympics, before he was signed to Nike. In the photo he’s actually wearing New Balance basketball sneakers. Peter Moore, the designer of the Jordan 1, wanted to use this photo for the Jordan logo which he was unable to due to licensing rights behind the image. They then recreated the photo in the Jordan 1 launch campaign (which was followed by some legal debacles). When the Jordan line was passed to Tinker Hatfield, Moore told him of his original concept, which led to Tinker using Nike’s Jordan 1 photo of MJ and silhouette him out to create what we now know as the Jumpman. The logo was debuted on the Jordan 3, Tinker’s creation, in 1988. Knowledge is power. Last Dance tonight.
Now it all makes sense.
As for New Balance, they weren’t in the running to land Jordan on a sneaker deal. But they didn’t mess up as bad as adidas who couldn’t guarantee Jordan getting a signature shoe. Ouch.
Nike is the big winner in all of this, surprise, surprise as they did over $126M in sales in the FIRST year of the Air Jordan line. The rest is history as Jordan Brand is a very successful company under the Nike umbrella and still releasing retro Jordans to this date.