Michael Jordan's Agent David Falk Created 'Air Jordan' in Less Than a Minute

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 08: A detail view of the Air Jordan basketball shoes worn by Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat before a game against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena on March 08, 2020 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Air Jordan is the most iconic brand in sports apparel, raking in billions in annual revenue. So how did Nike and Michael Jordan come up with the name? It probably took months of discussions and focus groups, right?

Nope. Took all of about a minute.

Agent David Falk revealed to Darren Rovell of the Action Network that he came up with the Air Jordan name in a meeting with Nike executives.

"So [Rob] Strasser says to me, 'We might consider giving him his own line of shoes and clothes. What do you want to call the line?' I looked at him like he was brain dead and said, 'What do I want to call the line? I want to call it Michael Jordan.'

"He felt that Michael had no credibility as a 21-year-old basketball player to suggest he was the designer of his own line. He said, 'Look we may be willing to do it, but you have to come up with a name and it cannot be Michael Jordan.' I literally wanted to strangle him. I mean, I was so frustrated. It literally came to me in probably less than a minute. And I said, 'OK, we're going to call it Air Jordan.'"

Falk explained to the Nike executives that the name works as a double entendre to signify Jordan's greatness above the rim and also highlights the company's Air technology, which was new at the time.

The rest was history. Nike debuted the sneakers in 1984 and created a clever marketing campaign around the NBA's supposed banishment of the shoe, though many have said that's a myth perpetuated by the company. It didn't matter, as the perception of the ban created a firestorm of sales while Jordan ascended to heights never before seen on an NBA floor.

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Before long, the Jordan brand was the highest-selling sneaker in the country, on its way to propping up Nike's margins and making MJ himself a billionaire.

Not bad for something that took less than a minute to name.