CHICAGO -- Air Jordan I's hit retail stores in Chicago at $65 a pair in March 1985. Three decades later, Jordan, now a separate brand operating under the Nike umbrella, is coming back in a big way with a store that will open in the Windy City by year's end.
"I've been on these guys [at Nike] for some time, [saying] 'We need to do a Jordan Brand store, and we need to do it in Chicago first,'" Michael Jordan told ESPN.com.
In the past year, a partnership between Nike and Footaction yielded Flight 23 stores in New York, in Las Vegas and two in suburban Chicago. But the new downtown location, named after its address, 32 South State Street, is the first that won't be a co-branded location. It will be all Jordan.
The idea behind the store is not only to offer a wider selection of Jordan-branded product but also to tell the Jordan story and become part of the community. A space above the store can be used for Jordan-sponsored athletes or as a promotional space.
"We understand that the brand is so huge now that it's global, but we [still] understand where it originated," said Jordan, who, according to an endorsement court case this week, earned $480 million from Nike between 2000 and 2012. "Red, white and black. Chicago Bulls colors."
Jordan Brand President Larry Miller said that Jordan has been asking to do the store for a decade but that now "is the best time to do this."
"We think it will resonate with the city of Chicago," Miller said.
"We understand that the brand is so huge now that it's global, but we [still] understand where it originated. Red, white and black. Chicago Bulls colors."Michael Jordan, on opening a Jordan Brand store in Chicago
Although Nike has not revealed how much revenue the Jordan Brand contributes to its bottom line, it is believed it will generate more than $2.5 billion in revenues this year, close to 8 percent of Nike Inc.'s projected bottom line.
Pretty amazing considering that Jordan's initial five-year, $2.5 million endorsement deal spelled out that, if things weren't working, Nike could bow out early.
To protect the company, Nike included a clause in Jordan's deal that said if he didn't accomplish one of four things -- win rookie of the year, become an All-Star, average 20 points per game or sell $4 million in shoes -- in his first three years, it could end the deal two years early.
Jordan accomplished all four, including selling $70 million in Air Jordan I's in the first three months.
"I think had anyone had one iota or idea that this would be 30 years past, then you could re-create it," Jordan said. "We haven't been able to re-create it. It's just virtually impossible."
It took 30 years, but sports marketers are starting to find out that there really isn't a next Michael Jordan.
"Everybody behind us is trying to find a way to duplicate it, [and] it's something you can't," Jordan said. "If I could, I'd sell it to you."