Michael Jordan nearly signed with Spot-Bilt over Nike after ringing O.J. Simpson endorsement
One of the hidden gems in “The Last Dance” was some of the tribulations Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan had to go through before signing with a sneaker brand. Episode 5 of the series saw Converse and Adidas fumbling the bag with Jordan while an eager Nike was willing to offer a mega-contract for his services.
Meanwhile, O.J. Simpson, who was a spokesman for Spot-Bilt, a casual shoe brand, vouched for Jordan and insisted the brand match Nike’s offer to lure him into signing with the company.
“The Last Dance” executive director Jason Hehir told the story to “Jalen & Jacoby,” explaining how Michael Jordan nearly signed with an otherwise long-forgotten company:
“Spot-Bilt, you remember them?” asked Hehir in a recent interview. “They matched [Nike’s] offer. Michael Jordan came this close to being with Spot-Bilt because the spokesman at the time was another athlete who had broken, transcended some racial bounds, it’s a guy by the name of O.J. Simpson.
“He said to the guys at Spot-Bilt: ‘The kid out of Carolina is the next me. Go get him.’ So they matched Nike’s offer, but they couldn’t match the marketing. They couldn’t promise [agent] David Falk that they could market Michael the way that Nike would. And that ultimately is what put that deal over the top, financially, for them.”
At the time, Converse, Adidas, and other top brands were offering roughly $100,000 to their elite-caliber stars for representing the brand. Nike stepped up with a $250,000 offer for Michael Jordan, though they were mostly a track shoe company — which involved plenty of risk.
Hehir mentions that even after having these two giant offers, Jordan still called Adidas one more time to ensure they wouldn’t want a deal done. Adidas turned him down a second time.
It’s funny to think kids all over the globe could we wearing Spot-Bilts instead of Air Jordans, but such is fate, as Michael Jordan was destined to elevate whatever brand he chose to sign with at the time.