'Air Jordan' wasn't the first name picked for Michael Jordan's iconic line with Nike. How the celebrated brand got its name.

John Swart/APMichael Jordan has one of the most celebrated athletic brands of all time.
  • Michael Jordan’s Nike Air Jordan brand is iconic.
  • The line launched in 1984 under the name “Air Jordan,” after an initial suggestion to name the NBA star’s line “Michael Jordan,” which was rejected by Nike.
  • In a recent virtual interview with reporter Darren Rovell, Jordan’s agent David Falk explained how the iconic brand got its name.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

One of the most celebrated athlete-endorsed brands of all time has an interesting back story.

Air Jordan, Michael Jordan’s iconic Nike brand, wasn’t the first pick for the name of the NBA star’s sportswear line when it launched in 1984. In a recent virtual interview with reporter Darren Rovell, Jordan’s agent David Falk explained how the celebrated brand got its name.

After some pushback to signing with Nike– then an underdog in the sportswear world – Jordan went ahead and signed with the company against his wishes in 1984. Former Nike executive Robert Strasser then brought up the question of what to name the new brand to Falk, who immediately suggested calling the line “Michael Jordan.”

But Nike didn’t quite take to the name.

“He felt that Michael had no credibility as a 21-year-old basketball player to suggest that he was the designer of his own line,” Falk said in the interview.

After a few moments of brainstorming, Falk said he came up with “Air Jordan.”

“Air because Nike’s just developed these new running shoes that have an Air technology that’s supposed to cushion your feet, and it’s a double entendre in the way Michael plays basketball – in the air,” Falk said, recounting how he explained then name to Nike.

According to Falk, designer Peter Moore then sketched the brand’s iconic winged logo in just a few minutes.

“And the rest is history,” Falk said.

Today, the billion-dollar Jordan brand is still iconic. Rare pairs of Air Jordan sneakers have sold for as much as $US20,000 on resale marketplaces like StockX and Stadium Goods.

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