What a difference an NBA Premiere Week makes.
Last month, fans saw the very public end of Dwyane Wade’s relationship with Jordan Brand. Since then, it’s been reported that young gun stars Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, are Michael Jordan’s latest picks to fill out the Team Jordan roster — and it makes a great deal of sense.
One thing that most people will think of when they think of the new alliances is star power. After LeBron James, the second-most dangerous player in the league (sorry, KD) is the Red Bull. Griffin is a sheer force of nature athletically, and only still scratching the surface of his repertoire of skills on both sides of the ball.
Westbrook isn’t far behind in star power. Though his controversial style of play has all kinds of people questioning his ability to lead the Thunder, Westbrook’s dynamic play has propelled him and his team to new heights never seen coming from Oklahoma (Also, dressing like a Keith Haring doodle has a way of attracting attention, too.)
The less obvious reason for a Griffin-Westbrook signing lends to their likelihood in receiving their own signature shoes for Nike. Historically, big men don’t sell signature shoes well on the whole, and while Griffin had his own customized Nike Zoom/Lunar Hyperdunk sneakers, he was unlikely to receive a shoe greater than what he was already getting. The same result went for Westbrook, as he received similar shoe styles to Griffin, but not an actual name shoe. Since the LBJ and Kevin Durant signings, Nike has systematically invested in elite performance shoes being individually customized for its other star players, something that lends to lower production costs and greater cost effectiveness.
It’s also no secret that Brand Jordan’s rep has suffered in the last several years. Putting most of their marbles into retro releases, longtime admirers of Jordan have come to a general consensus that the brand is no longer the leader in innovation. Only recently has Jordan utilized more of Nike’s newer technologies, but with leather and heavy foams going out and plastics coming in, the brand has been slow to adapt to the trends.