Michael Jordan plans to keep leaving a fresh imprint on his sport after his playing days are over by overseeing a line of basketball sneakers and apparel bearing his name for his longtime sponsor Nike Inc.
The Chicago Bulls superstar already has added millions of dollars to Nike's bottom line as well as his own bank account with sales over the past 13 years of his signature Air Jordan shoes and clothing.
But with the end of Jordan's career possibly only a few years away, the nation's biggest athletic shoe marketer has come up with a way for Jordan to keep his hand in the game and his image on the shoes worn on court.
Jordan will run a broadened Jordan brand of basketball shoes and clothing that will include not only the Air Jordan line but other models that will be designed especially for other pro players picked by Jordan.
"I have been involved in the design of everything I have worn from Nike since we began our relationship in 1984," Jordan said Tuesday. "The launch of the Jordan brand is simply an extension of that process."
The first Jordan brand collection debuts in November, and Jordan said introductions will be timed for a Saturday so children won't miss school to get them. He said shoes in the Jordan line will be priced as low as $90 to make them more affordable.
The most expensive shoe sold by the new Nike division will be the $150 Air Jordan, which has a 3-D hologram on the heel and quilting on the sides.
Jordan told a news conference at New York's Niketown store, where some of his new fashions were modeled, that he expects to be heavily involved in designing the shoes and apparel. He said that will be an outlet for his creative ambitions and competitiveness.
In addition to Jordan, other players wearing the Jordan brand this season will include Eddie Jones of the Los Angeles Lakers, Vin Baker and Ray Allen of the Milwaukee Bucks, Michael Finley of the Dallas Mavericks and Derek Anderson of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Jordan brand also will be worn by teams at three colleges _ Cincinnati, St. John's and North Carolina A&T.
The shoes and apparel ranging from sweat shirts and shorts to hats will feature the Jumpman logo, a silhouette of Jordan stretched to the maximum as he drives to dunk a basketball through the hoop.
The financial terms of the deal with Jordan were not disclosed but people familiar with it said it includes royalty payments based on sales.
Jordan is already tops among athletes in endorsement fees.
The Sports Marketing Letter estimated his endorsement deals _ ranging from Wheaties cereal, Ballpark Franks and Gatorade to Hanes underwear, Rayovac batteries and Bijan fragrances _ should generate $40-million this year.
That includes an estimated $17-million to $18-million from Nike for the Air Jordan line alone, the newsletter's publisher Brian Murphy said.
Golfer Tiger Woods is second with about $25-million in endorsement earnings lined up for this year, according to the newsletter.
Jordan's endorsement total is in addition to the $33-million he will make playing basketball for the Bulls this year. That makes him the highest-paid athlete in team sports as well.
Asked on NBC's Today show Tuesday morning whether this season would be his last, Jordan said "I don't think so."
Jordan, who has led the Bulls to five NBA championships in the 1990s, said the most important thing right now is a sixth title. "I think we are going to win again and go for seven," he said.
Nike is a heavyweight in the shoe business as well. It accounted for about 58 percent of the $1.3-billion market for basketball shoes last year, said Diane Daggatt, analyst for the securities firm Dain Bosworth in Seattle.
She said Nike hopes the broadened Jordan line would help it capture 90 percent of the basketball market by the year 2000.
"It's good positioning for Nike to feature Jordan separately," she said.
The Air Jordan line alone generates about $250-million in shoe and apparel sales a year, Nike officials say.
Michael Jordan will earn an estimated $40-million this year by pitching:
Nike shoes and apparel
Gatorade sports drinks
Coach Leather products
WorldCom long-distance telephone service
Upper Deck trading cards
Wilson sports equipment
Did we mention basketball?
He'll make $33-million playing for the Chicago Bulls.
Source: Sports Marketing