Just after his new Air Jordan sneakers sparked an uproar, Michael Jordan decided to settle down.
The NBA Hall of Famer and owner of the Charlotte Bobcats got engaged over the Christmas weekend, which began with the release of his retro Concord XI sneakers. Limited-edition classics, the shoes incited a rash of violence nationwide.
Here's hoping that the union between Jordan and Cuban-born model Yvette Prieto enjoys much more peace and goodwill than the shoppers exhibited toward one another.
The shoes were released on Friday, Dec. 23, followed by widespread criticism of Nike and, by extension, Jordan for their marketing tactics. Publicist Estee Portnoy confirmed that Jordan and his girlfriend were engaged within 48 hours of the shoes going on sale.
Coincidence? Perhaps. But an engagement certainly helps put Jordan in a more favorable light.
This will be his second marriage. The first, to Juanita Vanoy, produced two sons and a daughter and ended in divorce in 2006 after 17 years. Forbes magazine ranked it the “Most Expensive Divorce Ever,” with Vanoy winning a $168 million settlement, the couple's seven-acre estate in Chicago and custody of the kids.
The Charlotte Observer reports that property records list Prieto, 33, and Jordan, 48, as owners of a three-bedroom house in Miami's Highlands at Kendall suburb. The Chicago Tribune reports that Prieto once dated singer Julio Iglesias Jr., who spoke about their relationship in January 2003. "What I like most about her, besides her beauty, which jumps out at you, is her humbleness," Iglesias said in a cover story for Spanish publication Hola! "I'm happy when I'm at her side."
Apparently Jordan has enjoyed that happiness for the past three years. Prieto caused a spike in Internet searches when she appeared at Jordan's side during his Hall of Fame induction ceremony in September 2009. She was seen with him earlier that year during NBA All-Star weekend in February and at the Kentucky Derby in May, when the couple wore color-coordinated outfits.
Jordan can use a good-looking woman at his side to serve as a buffer.
Between the complaints about his business-over-politics stance (in 1990 he famously said, "Republicans buy sneakers, too"), complaints about his indifference toward any social causes and complaints about his hard-line stance as an NBA owner during the lockout, criticisms of Jordan the man have been as plentiful as praise for Jordan the baller.
It's doubtful, but maybe, just maybe, the new Mrs. Jordan will help prick his conscience.