While chronicling the game-changing partnership between Michael Jordan and Nike, the Ben Affleck-directed film “Air” offered a look into the competition that took place to sign the athlete, with both Adidas and Converse vying for MJ. At the time, Adidas and Converse were the dominating brands in basketball.
The film also reminded viewers of a transaction that would take place decades later: The Nike Inc. acquisition of Converse Inc.
On July 9, 2003, Nike Inc. announced that it had entered into an agreement to acquire Converse Inc. for $305 million. Two months later on Sept. 4, Nike Inc. confirmed it had completed the acquisition.
The acquisition of Converse Inc. came two years after the company announced it had filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2001.
The deal has proven to be a fruitful one for the athletic giant. On March 21, Nike Inc. reported its Q3 earnings for fiscal 2023. Revenues for the Converse brand were $612 million, up 8% on a reported basis and up 12% on a currency-neutral basis. This increase for Converse, according to Nike Inc., was led by double-digit growth across all channels in North America, partially offset by declines in Asia.
As for full-year fiscal 2022, which is the 12-month period ended May 31, 2022, revenues for Converse were $2.3 billion, up 6% on a reported basis and up 7% on a currency-neutral basis. Nike Inc. stated this was led by double-digit growth in its direct-to-consumer business, partially offset by lower wholesale revenues.
The “Air” film — which arrives in theaters on April 5 — also reminded viewers of a fact that devoted fans of MJ’s sneakers have likely committed to memory: Air Jordans sold $126 million sold in year one. (Jordan signed with Nike in October 1984.)
“Air” features a star-studded cast that includes Affleck as Nike co-founder Phil Knight, Matt Damon as famed sports marketing agent Sonny Vaccaro, Viola Davis as Deloris Jordan, the mother of MJ, and several others.
Speaking with FN, Vaccaro — who helped convince MJ and his mother that the athlete should sign with Nike — revealed why some of the many reasons he believes the NBA icon is truly special.
“When you’re talking about advertising, [Michael] Jordan is much bigger than being a great basketball player. No one in this world would ever be able to do what Michael Jordan did, getting a piece of Nike and opening the door for mostly Black athletes who never had ownership. Jordan actually ended up with a piece of his legacy. He owns a piece of Nike now,” Vaccaro explained. “Jordan’s legacy is not only the greatest basketball player, but he also opened the door for athletes to be in partnership with the owners. That’s why the shoe industry is as big as it is. If it wasn’t for Jordan, the shoe industry would not be selling replicas for millions of dollars. It was Michael Jordan who did that.”