Michael Jordan and Nike Need to Stem Violence

In her column at ESPN, Jemele Hill takes the hoop star to task for failing to help stem the tide of violence related to the release of his eponymous limited-edition Nike shoes.

Michael Jordan (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Michael Jordan (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

In her ESPN column, Jemele Hill writes that Michael Jordan and Nike could do more to help stanch violence related to the release of limited-edition Air Jordans. She says it would help change the perception that Jordan is an opportunistic pitchman.

… 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 …

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.

Yes, it’s the basic supply-and-demand sales strategy, but it’s irresponsible for Nike to ignore the violent problems these limited-edition shoes create.