Michael Jordan could be the greatest of athlete of all time, but he's definitely the greatest athlete endorser of all time. Throughout his career, Jordan has made millions starring in close to 100 television commercials in order to sell shoes, clothes, underwear, batteries, hot dogs, hamburgers, cereal, drinks, cars, cologne and calling cards.
After watching hours of tape, here are ESPN.com's top 10 commercials starring His Airness:
10. Two women sitting on a park bench wonder if Jordan wears boxers or briefs. A cool Jordan, with a jacket over his shoulder, replies, "They're Hanes ... let's just leave it at that."
9. Before Tiger Woods had Buick, MJ had Chevy. One of the most popular local Chicagoland Chevy Dealers spots ironically features no Michael and no car. In this commercial, cars owned by the other Bulls are buried after a game thanks to a major snowstorm. The camera pans to the white-washed cars of Scottie Pippen, Will Purdue, Bill Cartwright and Cliff Levingston. But when it gets to Jordan's S-10 Chevy Blazer, all you see is tire tracks. The commercial is so popular, that it ran for three straight winters in the early 90s.
8. In 1997, the greatest basketball player ever admitted in a Nike commercial that he wouldn't be where he is today without all of his mistakes. Jordan, in his walk through the crowd and security guards to get to the locker room before a game, recounts all his errors. "I missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed."
7. Like Tiger, Jordan didn't do a whole lot of talking in his early commercials. In a commercial for the Air Jordan II (which he wore for the 1987-88 season), a Jordan with hair is shown flying through the air in super-slow motion. At the end, a James Earl Jones-like voice is heard saying, "Air Jordan from Nike."
6. After Michael's first retirement, Nike ran a series of commercials which exposed Jordan's secret playing career under names like Johnny Kilroy and Motorboat Jones. "Incredible stories of exceptional basketball players," says conspiracy cracker Steve Martin. "Players that all uncannily resemble Michael Jordan." Along with footage of a disguised Jordan wearing an afro and a mustache and dressed up in strange basketball uniforms, Martin reveals the conclusive audio tape where Jordan admits he faked his retirement.
5. In what is perhaps Jordan's last of more than 20 commercials he has done for Gatorade, an older, wiser version of Jordan proves he can still run with the young guys by playing a 23-year old version of himself. When the two Jordans take a break and have a drink, a college version of Jordan in a North Carolina outfit asks "Who's Got Next?"
4. Two young kids catch up with Jordan as he's heading to his car with a basketball in his hand. One of them asks if the red Chevy is his car. Jordan says, "Yep," and he shoots a 15-foot jumper through the sunroof of the car. The quiet kid in the commercial just happens to be a very young Fred Savage long before he met Winnie Cooper.
3. Jordan and Larry Bird arguably had their best performances in the epic game of H-O-R-S-E featured during the 1993 Super Bowl. To the winner goes a Big Mac and Fries. Although we never find out who takes the prize, watching this "Nothin' but net" battle makes this an all-time classic. Extra points for the funky Hawaiian shirt and shorts Jordan is sporting.
2. Mike's main man Mars Blackmon (Spike Lee) thinks he's figured out the secret to MJ's game in "It's Gotta Be The Shoes!" But No. 23 denies it. The black-and-white spots start a frenzy. Posters of Jordan and Mars, an annoying nerd from Brooklyn, become a fixture in every teenager's room.
1. Gatorade scored a slam dunk in 1991 when it tabbed Jordan to become its first athlete endorser. Although the sports drink brand already dominated store shelves, millions of people still have the "Be Like Mike" jingle stuck in their head so many years later.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at Darren.firstname.lastname@example.org. He is the author of a new book, On the Ball: What You Can Learn About Business From America's Sports Leaders."