The Kicks You Wear, Vol. 59 — What if Adidas signed Mike?

Man, everything would be so different

Good morning, folks! Happy Monday! Welcome back to the Kicks You Wear. Thank you for spending a bit of your Monday with me.

We’re still on the road to 800, but we’re riiiiight on the cusp of jumping this first hurdle! I cannot wait. Tell a friend to tell another friend to subscribe to the Kicks You Wear!

With that out the way, let’s dive in.

Air Adidas was almost real

(Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash_

It’s hard to envision a scenario now where you can drop the ball with Michael freaking Jordan, of all people. But Adidas did it.

In Sunday night’s 5th episode of ESPN’s Last Dance documentary, Mike publicly said he actually wanted to sign with Adidas over Nike back in 1984. For most sneakerheads, this isn’t really a revelation. But for everyone else? This was news.

The backstory is wild. He ended up signing with Nike after, first, taking meetings with Converse and Adidas.

  • Converse wouldn’t prioritize him because they already had Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Isiah Thomas and Dr. J in hand. Wild in hindsight, but at the time? Understandable.

  • Adidas? Whew boy, Adidas. They didn’t sign him because, first, he was an unproven rookie looking for a big deal. Second? Because he wasn’t a big man. YES. SERIOUSLY. The Wall Street Journal detailed it in 2015.

Adidas distributors wanted to sign Mr. Jordan, says someone who was an Adidas distributor then. But executives in Germany decided shoppers would favor taller players and wanted to sponsor centers, the person says, adding: “We kept saying, ‘no—no one can relate to those guys. Who can associate with a seven-foot-tall guy?’”

Obviously a big mistake now. Back then? Maybe not so much. The sneaker game is a guard game now, but that’s because Mike made it that. Centers were the more dominant players in the NBA and, because of that, they were more coveted by snekaer companies.

Adidas’ prized athlete at the time was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was both a big man and a proven star who had become the NBA’s all-time points leader. It make perfect sense to choose to put all of the eggs in that one basket. Didn’t work out, but it made sense.

The rest is history. Nike offers him a massive deal and his parents tell him to take the money and not to look back. 36 years later he’s a billionaire.

But, man, what if Adidas did the right thing? If Jordan actually signs with the three stripes, so much about the world as we know it changes. Every facet of pop culture is different. There are so many questions.

  • Question 1: Does Nike even exist? I mean, probably. But he was their introduction to basketball and is still their biggest name almost four decades later. We can safely say they definitely don’t exist the same way, at the very least. They’re not as big.

  • Question 2: Could Nike find another “Jordan” if he goes to Adidas? Nike had $500,000 ready to sign three players coming out of college in 1984. They ended up dedicating half of that to MJ, but maybe one of those players hits? Maybe it’s Charles Barkley! We’ll never know.

  • Question 3: Could Adidas even make this work? Three things needed to happen to make Jordan Brand what it is: Jordan had to be Jordan, the product had to be A1 and they had to sell the hell out of it. Nike has always been a master of that last part. Adidas? Let’s just say they’re probably not coming up with “Air Jordan.”

Poor Adidas, man. They fumbled the bag with Mike and did the same thing with LeBron James 20 years later.

  • That was probably for the best on both accounts. If I’m being honest, I have 0 confidence things would’ve gone great with either. They’ve never been great with basketball.

Don’t feel too bad for Adidas, though. They made up for it with Kanye West in 2015. Yeezy is probably going to dominate sneaker culture for the next 30 years, so there’s that.

Ultimately, Jordan made the right decision. He chose the right brand and he ended up transforming a culture because of it.

One last thing.


King Cactus turning garbage to gold

(Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash)

Is there anything that Travis Scott can’t sell at this point? He really turned the Air Max 270 into a hype piece. The “Cactus Trails” React 270 finally got a release date for May 29 later this month and Travis stans are pumped.

Let’s make one thing clear: This shoe is not good. They should be called the Air Swamp things. I mean, look at them. They’re hideous.

People are still going crazy over these joints, though.

That’s remarkable for a non-Jordan, non-Dunk collab. The Air Max 270 React is a fine shoe. But it’s not one that you’d ever think people would be willing to pay thousands of dollars for. And that’s where Travis Scott’s touch comes in.

Nike used his influence to turn an everyday product into a hyped release. Travis’ hype will build up the energy for the 270 React and they’ll push people who miss out on it to cop more widely released versions of it. It’ll turn Nike’s best selling shoe into even more of a powerhouse.

  • They did something similar with the React Element 87 and 55. Limit the drop on the 87, build the hype and then drop the 55. The process is just reversed for the 270.

The hype is already here. Prices will almost certainly drop at some point, but Scott’s impact on this shoe is already clear. This is a pretty strong flex from Scott and Nike. I just wish it was on a better looking shoe.

Nike turned spare parts into PPE

Nike was one of the many companies that shifted its focus into creating personal protective equipment for essential workers because of our nationwide shortage due to coronavirus.

You’ve probably seen the Nike face shield floating around the internet. If not, here’s what that looks like.

Nike is manufacturing protective face shields for health professionals that are on the front lines of the COVID-19 recovery efforts. The actual shield is made of the same material used for Air Max units, the cords from Nike's recycled Considered, and the fore-head padding from ankle collars. Link in bio for more details.
April 7, 2020

One of the things I’ve always wondered was what that process actually looks like. How do you go from sneakers and never even thinking about PPE to making face shields? And how to you make that pivot so quickly?

Well, my questions have been answered. It only took them two weeks! And they used spare parts from shoes to get it all done. Fast Company’s Mark Wilson details it all in this piece.

While the average Nike product takes 18 months to go from concept to production, the team managed to get PPE rolling off the assembly line in just two weeks. The efforts required retooling assembly lines and reformulating plastic to churn out PPE in two factories that are thousands of miles apart—all during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Things have worked out pretty well so far.

  • To date, Nike has dropped off 290,000 pieces of PPE to hospitals free of charge since April 3.

  • The company says it will continue PPE Production until supply shortages in the country end.

This is what doing your part looks like. The details in this story are pretty incredible and it’s definitely worth a few minutes of your time in reading.

Reebok is doing some good out here

Speaking of doing good in the midst of this pandemic, we have to send a BIG shoutout to Reebok this week.

They’ve launched their #ReebokLove campaign. One of the initiatives within the campaign allows people to nominate their favorite essential worker for a free pair of shoes sent directly from Reebok.

Essential workers include everyone from the doctors and nurses that are working crazy hours in our hospitals to the grocery store clerks that are still going into work so we can keep food on our tables.

If you know someone playing an essential part, all you have to do is fill out a nomination form for them and they could get a pair.

  • Nominations are open until May 24th. The caveat here is that not all nominations will get a free pair, but it’s still worth the attempt.

Salute, Reebok. There are more important things in the world than shoes right now, but this is a pretty dope gesture nonetheless.


What’s droppin’, bruh

That’s a wrap for Monday, folks! Let’s make this week a fantastic one. Enjoy it and, most importantly, be safe out here.

Holla at y’all on Friday! Hopefully, we’ve hit our mark by then. We’re right on the cusp of 800! Tell a friend to tell another friend about the Kicks You Wear. Let’s get this giveaway popping!

As always, family, peace and love. Be easy. Be well. Be kind.

Signing off.

Sykes 💯