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As any basketball fan can tell you, Michael Jordan wasn’t just an incredible athlete. While His Airness could do just about anything on the basketball court, he was also driven by a compulsive need to be the best. That desire to come out on to wasn’t just limited to the hardwood, either.

Over the years, there have been plenty of stories about Michael Jordan’s competitiveness, ranging from cheating at board games to trash-talking anyone within earshot. MJ, however, also took his business interests pretty seriously; just ask anyone who didn’t wear Jordan brand.

Michael Jordan is a legendary competitor with a famous will to win

As mentioned above, Michael Jordan’s basketball resume speaks for itself; even if you don’t think he’s the GOAT, it’s tough to take issue with six NBA championships, five MVP awards, and a boatload of additional honors. That on-court success, however, is only part of the story.

During his youth, Jordan developed a fiery competitive streak by battling against his brother, Larry; after Michael failed to make his high school’s varsity basketball team on the first attempt, that will to win kicked into overdrive. While MJ grew into a star, he never lost that ability to ‘take things personally’ and defeat anyone who stood in his way.

Although His Airness did plenty of winning off the court, his habits weren’t confined to the hardwood. Whether he was hitting the golf course, playing some board games on the bus, or making a casual bet with his teammates, Jordan would do whatever it took to win.

Scoring a major win with Nike

If we consider the scope of Michael Jordan’s entire life and career, it’s impossible to overlook his massive financial success. A large part of that fortune, however, is due to a decision by MJ’s mother.

As we learned during The Last Dance, Jordan was actually a fan of Adidas. His mother, though, convinced him to meet with Nike and see what the brand had to offer. Whether she simply wanted her son to be polite or had some mother’s intuition, that advice changed the course of history.

MJ, of course, turned into a star, with both he and Nike reaping the rewards. Even today, almost two decades after his retirement, the Jordan brand is still a major—and profitable—player in the basketball space.

Michael Jordan destroyed his friends’ non-Nike apparel


Michael Jordan’s Relentless Will to Win Drove Him to Cheat in a Card Game Against an ‘Old Woman’

Given everything we know about Michael Jordan, it’s unsurprising that he takes his brand seriously. The NBA legend, however, has apparently gone to some serious lengths to ensure those in his inner circle are only rocking Nikes.

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,” Wright Thompson wrote in an ESPN story for MJ’s 50th birthday. “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.

“He demands that loyalty,” Whitfield simply said.

Somehow, that’s not too surprising. Michael Jordan, if nothing else, always wants to be the best.