In the world of basketball, Michael Jordan is more than just a player. His Airness is also the namesake of one of the sport’s biggest apparel powerhouses, which could be somewhat of a double-edged sword for his peers. If MJ wanted you to be part of the Jordan brand, you were in; if you earned his ire, though, things could get awkward if you were wearing Jumpman shoes. That latter situation is precisely what Greg Minor experienced in 1997.
On one occasion, Minor and MJ got into a bit of a scuffle on the court, earning His Airness a trip to the foul line. As he stepped up to the charity stripe, though, the Chicago Bulls star dropped a quick piece of trash talk about his shoes.
Michael Jordan became teamed up with Nike in a move that changed basketball history
These days, the Jordan brand is simply part of the basketball landscape. If not for parental guidance, though, things could have turned out quite a bit differently.
Coming out of college, MJ personally preferred Adidas and planned on pledging his future to the brand. While that affinity tempted him to ignore any interest from Nike, his mother had a different idea. If a company was interested, Michael could at least agree to the meeting and hear what they had to say.
Whether through a stroke of mother’s intuition, some karmic intervention for doing the right thing, or a simple coincidence, that advice made all the difference. Jordan met with Nike and learned that the brand was prepared to offer him a signature sneaker line. From there, the rest is history.
Thanks in large part to His Airness’ incredible talent, the Jordan brand quickly grew into a juggernaut. Even today, with MJ firmly entrenched in retirement, you’ll find his Jumpman logo plastered on sneakers, sweatshirts, and seemingly everything in between.
MJ once called out Greg Minor for wearing his sneakers
When Jordan teamed up with Nike, they did more than just change the basketball apparel world forever. That partnership also set the stage for Greg Minor to be on the receiving end of some awkward trash talk.
During the 1997 NBA campaign, Chauncey Billups got his first taste of professional action. During that inaugural season, he got an up-close-and-personal view of His Airness’ legendary trash talk.
“My very first game playing against Michael Jordan and the Bulls,” Billups explained on ESPN’s The Jump. “We had a guy named Greg Minor guarding him. And, you know, there’s a little dust-up. Greg’s playing hard. Of course, you’ve got to play as hard as you can [because] it’s MJ.”
That effort, however, ended up sending Jordan to the charity stripe. As he stepped up to the mark, he turned to Minor and let him have it.
“MJ is going to the free-throw line, and he looks at Greg. And he says, ‘I should make you take my shoes off,'” Billups continued. “I look down, I didn’t even realize it. I look down and [Minor’s] got the Jordans on.”
That wasn’t the only time Michael Jordan got personal about someone’s sneakers
While everything is fair game during an NBA game, MJ’s sneaker-related exploits didn’t end there. Based on some anecdotes that have reached the public, it seems like His Airness is pretty protective of the Jordan brand, even in his personal life.
According to a story he shared with Desus and Mero, Bow Wow used to stay at the Jordan residence when his tour passed through Chicago. The rapper was an Allen Iverson fan, though, which meant he rocked Reebok sneakers. As you might imagine, His Airness didn’t appreciate that reality.
“This is a true story,” Bow Wow explained. “Mr. Jordan came in there, I was sleeping on the floor of Marcus’ room, Marcus on the bed, whatever, he kicked me up like, ‘Hey, all ya’ll wake up.’ I swear to god. ‘Whose [sneakers are] these? And who has Duke shorts on in my house?”
Those sneakers, unsurprisingly, ended up in the trash as Jordan instructed his security guard to fetch some replacement Jumpmans.
“In the late ’80s, Jordan looked in [Bobcats president Fred] Whitfield’s closet and saw that half of it was filled with Nike and the other half filled with Puma,” Thompson recounted. “Jordan bundled the Puma gear in his arms, tossing it onto the living room floor. He took a knife from the kitchen and cut it to shreds. Call Howard White, his contact at Nike, he told Fred, and tell him to replace it all. Same thing happened with George [Koehler, another close friend]. He bought a pair of New Balance shoes he loved, and Jordan saw them one day and insisted he hand them over. Call Howard White at Nike.”
In fairness to Jordan, it does seem like he’s an equal-opportunity offender. Whether you’re wearing his brand or not, no one is safe from His Airness’ wrath.