You would never see Michael Jordan wearing shoes other than the Jordan brand or the Nike model, but once upon a time there were tennis shoes made famous by former tennis star Andre Agassi.
Why Michael Jordan wore Air Challenge LWP
Michael Jordan retired from the NBA in 1993 but couldn’t stay away from the game for good. After two years, he announced his return, which effectively changed the landscape of the league. He announced his return with two simple words: I’m back.
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Funnily enough, Mike wore different sneakers at that time – Andre Agassi endorsed tennis shoes, the Air Challenge LWP. Its design contrasts sharply with the shoes worn by the Chicago Bulls star.
Agassi and Jordan share many similarities. They were both Nike sponsors and proven winners on and off the court. Both possessed a fiery passion on the pitch and displayed never-say-die attitudes. Besides the superstar gear, MJ was co-signing sneakers which made them a hit with basketball and tennis fans.
But why didn’t MJ put his shoes on? It could have been an iconic moment that would help boost his image and sneaker sales. This decision could turn out to be strategic. It was his way of promoting other Nike shoes, and no other athlete could have succeeded except MJ.
How Jordan revolutionized the sneaker industry
Michael Jordan was among the first athletes to commercially exploit his success on the field. No other basketball player before that had a deeper impact than Michael Jordan’s partnership with Nike. He wasn’t the first athlete to have a shoe endorsement, but his influence couldn’t be denied and it spread to other sports.
Agassi, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal released their signature shoes under Nike. In a way, Jordan wearing tennis shoes at a pivotal time in basketball history was iconic. So far, the Air Challenge LWP is still under discussion, and how Michael Jordan wore it during his comeback announcement. If Jordan decided to wear other sneakers instead, then the Air Challenge LWP would still become a great shoe on its own, but without the historical substance only the Michael Jordan name could bring.