For those that don’t know the story, after winning 3 consecutive championships with the Chicago Bulls, superstar Michael Jordan retired from the game of basketball and laced up his Air Jordans to pursue a career in baseball. The story goes that he retired after the murder of his father and wanted play the game he and his father first loved. But then there are conspiracy theories like his chronic gambling leading to David Stern telling him to leave. Regardless of what you want to believe, the greatest basketball player was leaving the sport he was dominating at during his prime.
As you would imagine this decision affected a lot of people and brands including Nike. It meant the Air Jordan 9 would never be worn by MJ on the NBA hardwood. But he wouldn’t exactly be leaving the Bulls because he signed a deal with the Chicago White Sox which are owned by Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf. However, MJ may have practiced and was a Spring Training invite but didn’t make it onto the MLB team.
So he took the assignment to the team’s Double-A affiliate, the Birmingham Barons. And that is where MJ’s professional baseball career started. He strutted onto the field wearing #45, his number from high school, on his back and cleated-versions of the Air Jordan 9 on his feet. Unfortunately, the new-found boost of attendance and national attention didn’t help MJ, nor the Barons, that day. He would go 0-for-3 and the Barons would go on to lose 10-3. Thankfully for basketball, and baseball, fans MJ would return to the NBA after that season.