Role Models (Part 2): Jumped for Jordans

“I stick out my tongue so everyone could see that logo

Nike Air Flight, but bad was so dope

And then my friend Carlos’ brother got murdered for his Fours, whoa”

Shoe deals are rising faster than the NBA salary cap. Derrick Rose signed the largest endorsement deal in the history of sports when Adidas inked him for $185 million in 2012. Adidas then went on to spend another $100 million on Damian Lillard and $200 million on James Harden in the last two years. And those aren’t even the big names.

Kevin Durant’s Nike deal runs around $30 million per year for the next 10, Kobe’s still making around $15 million on a deal he inked way back when with Nike, and Lebron James is signed on for life with Nike as well for around $20 million per year, a figure that will surely jump.

Oh, and Michael Jordan now makes more per year from his Jordan brand than he made in his entire career with the Bulls (and Birmingham Barons).

We have an issue separating the debates on what people should be able to do, and what they should do. To set a price for your goods or services, and then do mostly what you want with that money’s a right you should have. It’s something you should be able to do.

But what should you do with 100s of millions of dollars? As discussed in Role Models (Part 1), a lot of the stars give back tremendous amounts of money to a variety of causes to exemplify what should be done with money like that. Kevin Durant’s foundation funds new basketball courts schools for homeless kids. Lebron’s invested in the future of 2300 young Akron kids that have the odds stacked against them. Michael Jordan spent $7 million on a new Boys and Girls Club in Chicago.

What if, though, instead of thrusting millions back into the community, some of the names above could help the communities exponentially by not making more money? What if in this scenario, what they should do with the money is make less of it.

Stephon Marbury (head tattoo and all) may be our voice of reason on this front. In October, the now-legendary Chinese baller came out and blamed primarily Michael Jordan for doing nothing to curb the violence that surrounds his shoes. As the Macklemore lyric at the top alludes to, people getting shot, killed, or injured for the shoes their wearing.

There’s not many definitive stats as to how many people are held up for their shoes each year, but the numbers are expected to be high. Googling “shot for Jordans” brings up stories of teens killed in malls or on the street. In Cincinnati or in Brooklyn. Just a month ago in December, a man in Seattle killed his 14 year old niece over a pair of Jordans.

All of that brings us to the question: What should Jordan and Lebron do to curb that violence. Stephon Marbury’s plan was simple: lower the price to his $15 dollar Starbury’s. That may not be a realistic amount, but the price nonetheless could be lowered. Jordan’s next release, the Just Don x Air Jordan 2 “Beach”, will run you $650, making them more expensive than a new iPhone, and even harder to get. These are a relatively rare release, but even the average pair of Jordan’s will still run you $150 at the least, with Lebron’s shoes hovering near $200.


Each of those could be sliced in half, thirds, and even quarters. According to, it only costs $16 total for Nike to manufacture a pair of Jordan’s, and the amount for Lebron’s is similar. That means buying that $250 pair of Air Jordan 10s puts $234 of straight profit to Nike, Jordan, and Bron. Surely, the shoes could be sold for under $100.

Even then, there’d still be violence. The issue sits in how well Nike has marketed both of the brands. When you put on a pair of Jordans, Lebrons, KDs, etc., you’re going to feel like you’re them. Nike’s really made you feel “like Mike”. They’ve glorified a pair of shoes into a must-have, a status symbol, and a statement. They’ve made the shoes seem more important than the game. Forget practice. Just wear the shoes and you’ll be a star. You end the deaths and the violence over a pair of shoes by reminding people that they’re just shoes. They’re not going to make you a star. They’re not going to increase your vertical 20 inches. They’re not going to make you Michael Jordan.

Without the support of the stars, there’s little likelihood things will change. Michael Jordan, and Lebron, have the ability to save lives. More lives than they save by guaranteeing college for kids or building a Boys and Girls Club. They’re businessmen, and they’re businesses in themselves. They have all the right to make as much money as they can. But ask yourself, what do you think they should do?


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