Jemele Hill of ESPN Takes On Michael Jordan and Nike
|By Jemele Hill of ESPN|
It's time to rethink how limited-edition releases of shoes cause a frenzy
I don't know why I keep hoping that Michael Jordan will one day grow a conscience and show he's more than an opportunistic pitchman who overvalues the bottom line.
I'll always respect Jordan's accomplishments as a player and how he helped the NBA become a global game, but I have no respect for some of Jordan's business practices.
Michael Jordan, now the owner of the Bobcats, continues to be the name behind one of the most popular shoe and sporting goods brands. Last week, Jordan and Nike released his retro gym shoe, the Air Jordan XI Concords -- which Jordan wore during the 1995-96 season, when the Bulls notched a record 72 regular-season victories and won the NBA championship -- in time for the Christmas rush, but the special release incited a rash of violence nationwide.
Nike condemned the violence. "We are extremely concerned to hear of the reported crowd incidents around the launch of the Air Jordan XI at some select retail locations," said Brian Facchini, spokesman for Nike's Jordan brand, in an email statement to USA Today and others. "Consumer safety and security is of paramount importance. We encourage anyone wishing to purchase our product to do so in a respectful and safe manner."
And let me restate the obvious: This behavior is sad and foolish. It's a shoe, hardly worth dying for or injuring someone over. (I wonder if some of these same people who camped out overnight for some shoes would do the same if a free education were being offered.)
Jordan and Nike didn't directly encourage this recklessness. They didn't tell people to trample others who waited in line, and it's not their fault that a segment of people have such skewed priorities.
But that doesn't absolve Jordan or Nike for willingly feeding an out-of-control monster.
Let's put aside the fact that these Air Jordans cost an absurd $180. The marketing campaign for these shoes is essentially akin to yelling "fire" in a crowded movie theater.
Nike, which created the Air Jordan brand in 1984, makes a big deal out of the fact that it only releases the Jordan XIs -- arguably Jordan's most sought-after shoe -- once a year and they will be in available only in extremely limited supply.
Translation: Do whatever you have to do to get these shoes.
And if people get hurt in the process, so be it. ...
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