Michael Jordan on Michael Jordan And His New Shoe
CNBC Sports Business Reporter
Michael Jordan was in New York City today to unveil his latest sneaker called the Air Jordan 2009.
The shoe is really slick and looks a little bit like the Air Jordan 11—in that it's definitely a shoe you could wear for a formal occasion.
The shoe was designed by Chicago native Jason Mayden, not the usual Tinker Hatfield. It features a chassis that's meant to mimic blown glass, which means that each shoe is technically different in its pattern. The pleats in the shoe are really a nice touch. Shoe designers can learn from the simplicity of this, instead of the hodgepodge garbage we've seen of recent.
Here's what MJ had to say about being the most popular athlete on the planet, Brand Jordan and the new shoe.
The majority of basketball shoes being sold today are Jordans. How is the brand so dominant?:
"We've been here for 23 years and each year we try to ask ourselves the same question and that is 'how have we gotten to this point?' And every time we come up with this answer that we've put so much energy, in terms of trying to build the best product. In doing that, we try to also create a certain style that's different than anybody else and somehow we've always been able to connect to the consumer, to the athlete, to the little kids. This (Jordan brand) team is a lot bigger and each and every day our dedication is trying to build the best product, trying to relate to the consumers, building something that is totally special and unique. Obviously my legacy was when I played the game of basketball. I haven't played since 1998 -- we forgot about Washington D.C. (laughing) -- and for whatever reason, we've been able to maintain that focus with our consumer with that business within the business. I think a lot of that credit goes to people that are on the podium and all the people back at Nike and in the Jordan brand for that diligent effort to continue to connect."
Will there be another Michael Jordan?:
"Will there be another Michael Jordan? Who is going to be the next Michael Jordan? That's not for me to answer. It's basically going to be the consumer response to that individual. I've been blessed obviously and to say that someone else won't be blessed down the road, I'm pretty sure they will. I just can't pick that person out, unless it's my kids, but they are already Jordans. I can't speak for LeBron, I can't speak for Kobe. They're great athletes, I think they are great people and they've got a long career ahead of them, but it's up to them as to how they are being received by the community and the consumer. I'm just happy that I've been able to connect and maintain."
Where will the Jordan Brand be in 23 years?:
"I want us to continue to grow. We have to end the competition between us and Nike. Because when you try to win, you don’t try to pick who you have to beat. Obviously Nike is our parent company and you want to be very respectful to your parents. I expect this brand to compete with Nike on a global standpoint somewhere down the road. Obviously being that they are our parent, the son has to listen to what the parent may say controlling some of the space, but I think that this is a two-headed monster and I expect us to be as strong as Nike somewhere down the road. In 23 years, I’d like to think we’d be right next to them."
On the $190 price point for the shoe in this economy:
"I get this every year. We value what we do with this shoe. We feel like we put as much energy as much technology into the shoe and the toughest thing is trying to establish what that value is. In the past, we’ve established what the value is being a premium product. Over the last couple years it’s been $175 and we’ve brought it up another 15 bucks because I think a lot more innovation and technology has been put into the product. Is it a tough price point? Yeah, you can say that. But when you think you’ve built the best product, obviously you feel like it has a certain value. I mean, you don’t go buy a Ferrari and expect to get a Volkswagon price."
Why it's not called Air Jordan 24:
"Obviously you know that my number is 23. I just felt like 24 would really diminish what 23 really meant. For any shoe to be in existence for that amount of time shows how successful you've been for that period of years in the business. A lot people said, 'Are you going to do a 24th shoe, are you going to do another shoe?' I didn't feel it was necessary to do "24." I felt that 23 was synonymous in terms of my jersey number."
On the custom chassis idea:
"The thing about the Jordan shoe is that for years we've been very successful and everybody's tried to copy us and we wanted to come up with a concept that would be totally different. So people come to us and say, 'What makes this shoe different from the next. And we came up with a way to individualize a shoe where there would be only one shoe made with that same type of style....It gives that customer, that consumer, an individuality of what this product was meant to be and that is strictly for you."
On whether the Jordan brand will soon be making golf gear and shoes:
"We’ve had that conversation a countless amount of times. I know my friend Tiger is in the business. Obviously I think I can take over his business (laughing). I chose not to. Every time we get to that, yeah I’d love to, but I don’t think so and we take a step back. We make shoes for athletes to play in them but we have not brought it to the stage of putting it into the marketplace….Right now, I think we’re not at that stage to make that challenge to Tiger and FootJoys and all those guys in the business. When we do it, we want to come in with a bang. I’m not saying we won’t do it, I think we will. Tiger better get a head start because we can catch up quickly."
The Jordan brand also announced today that April Holmes, a gold-medal winning paralympian, as the next Jordan endorser. She is the first woman spokesperson the brand has had.
Here is the rest of the Jordan roster: Ray Allen, Carmelo Anthony, D.J. Augustin, Mike Bibby, Dre Bly, Michael Finley, Ahman Green, Richard Hamilton, Marvin Harrison, Josh Howard, Juwan Howard, Jared Jeffries, Derek Jeter, Andruw Jones, Joe Johnson, Kevin Martin, Terrell Owens, Chris Paul, Quentin Richardson, C.C. Sabathia, Bobby Simmons, Jason Taylor, Gerald Wallace and Andre Ward.
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