Marcus Jordan Won't Wear Adidas
Everything except change his shoes.
Jordan, a freshman who will begin practicing Thursday with the UCF Knights, will stick with Nike -- which Michael Jordan made famous -- despite the school's lucrative contract with adidas that requires all intercollegiate athletes and coaches to wear its brand.
Michael Jordan, an icon who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame last month, has made millions of dollars from -- and for -- Nike over the last 25 years. They even created his own signature Michael Jordan brand, which will pay him for many years into the future.
Marcus' decision, at his father's urging, caused considerable debate the last month before the UCF athletic department and officials at adidas came to a compromise. adidas is paying UCF close to $2 million annually to be the exclusive provider of athletic gear.
Jordan will wear the same adidas uniform as everyone else, but he will keep his shoes with his father's likeness on the side.
"It's no disrespect to adidas. I have a high level of respect for adidas, but I've always worn these Jordan shoes,'' Marcus said Thursday at the team's media day. "I don't have a contract [with Nike], but it's an obligation to my family. I think people understand.''
UCF athletic director Keith Tribble said that Jordan won't be the first athlete at the school to get permission to wear something other than adidas, He said there has been at least one kicker in football who needed to wear a different brand of shoe because of the way they fit.
"[Marcus] wants to do whatever the team is doing. He's such a great kid,'' Tribble said. "No one wants to get into a fight over this, but apparel is one thing. Shoes are something else.''
According one source in the UCF athletic department, adidas officials were extremely unhappy with the decision, but they didn't press the issue because they feared a backlash.
Jordan, a 6-3 guard, came to UCF from Whitney Young High School in Chicago. He concluded his senior year ranked as the 115th-best player in the country, according to recruiting service HoopScoop. Jordan led his team to a Class 4A state title when he averaged 16.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists in seven tournament games.
He wasn't heavily recruited, but he came to UCF in part because former high school teammate and good friend A.J. Rompza already was in the program and AAU teammate Nik Garcia also was coming to UCF.
"I've dealt with this [being Jordan's son] all my life. It's not pressure. It's just a challenge,'' he said. "I know I'm not going to be Michael Jordan Jr. I just want to be Marcus Jordan. I've never wanted to be anyone else.''
His new teammates, and his old friends, marvel at the way he handles the attention on campus, often asked to pose for pictures and sign autographs around campus. They also enjoy his easy-going, unpretentious nature.
He already has brought extra attention to a program that has struggled to attract attention on both a local and national stage.
"I get approached now by people all the time -- a 65-year-old lady at the grocery store, for example -- and they asked two questions: Did you sign Michael Jordan's son? And is Michael Jordan coming to the games?'' said UCF coach Kirk Speraw. "I tell them, his father will be there, but you don't know which games, so you better come to all of them.''