13 March 2016

The Socio-Cultural Triumph of Mike

Guest Post by Nicholas Constantilos

If I were to ask you “Who is the most popular basketball star ever?” who do you think of? Soaring slam from the free throw line, which person comes to mind? It’s hard to come across someone who does not instantly think of the legendary Michael Jordan. The late basketball star Elgin Baylor once stated… “If you look up the definition of greatness in the dictionary, it will say Michael Jordan.” What this iconic man did for not only the game of basketball but for society is untouchable. He developed one of the most popular brands in the world, left a lasting imprint on popular culture, and forever remains a living role model. I am going to explain why Michael Jordan is a cultural and social legend.

Jordan Brand Significance

I can confidently say that if someone hasn’t owned one pair of Air Jordan’s in their life time, they have at least heard of the shoe brand. In fact, Michael Jordan was the first athlete to ever have his own shoe brand and from this he helped put the Nike brand on the map for sports shoes and apparel. Nike was initially a brand made for runners until Jordan’s fame started following him off the court and gave Nike a claim on basketball. What makes basketball and shoes so intertwined is how much people reflect their game on the type of shoes they wear. Basketball is the only sport where the shoe get most of the credit for one’s success; at least that’s what we all like to think is the reason. ESPN sports writer, Scoop Jackson, stated “Basketball shoes helped define who our hero’s were”. So when Michael Jordan took to the “Air”, he became defined. A large reason why the Jordan brand is so popular is due to Michael’s outstanding performance on the basketball court and with that he created an essentially flawless basketball career. When someone wears Jordan’s shoes they are wearing Michael’s spirit and carrying on his legacy. The shoe give people a sense of comfort because wearing Jordan’s means “success”. Speaking of success, when comparing the Jordan brand to the modern world wide brand “Apple”, a quote that stood out to me was “Apple is still 21 years and 18 iphone models away from being where Jordan is with its signature sneaker.” Now put that into perspective…

Popular Culture

Just when you thought Michael could only impact people on the court and with his shoes, he didn’t stop there. He changed culture itself by his starring in the movie Space Jam. Space Jam was so appealing because it tied together the culture of sports to other areas of pop culture such as the Looney Toons, popular Comedians, and popular musicians. No movie before Space Jam combined real life people and animation the way this movie did. During 1996 some of the most popular rappers at the time such as LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes, and Coolio were featured in the movie, Space Jam got them all on one song, which was never done before. Famous R&B singer R. Kelly also made a song for the movie called “I Believe I Can Fly”. What other movie can you say did that before Space Jam? This all was made possible due to the fact that Michael Jordan was the pumping heart of the movie making all these stars want to be a part of it, giving the movie a true purpose.

A Cultural and Social Hero

What came after Michael Jordan’s outstanding accomplishments and almost unbelievable transcript was the inspiration he gave everyone with his success making them want to be “Just like Mike”. If you ever see someone with bald head and hoop earrings…Michael is responsible for setting that trend. For the youths watching his finals moments, there is no better belief that anything is possible when watching Michael Jordan’s moments. Hall of fame writer, Sam Smith, emphasized “As kids it seemed like the ultimate hero story. No matter how much he’s down or what the odds were, he would find a way to win.” This amazing talent was echoed so loudly to the public that most people did not see “black or white” but a basketball player they enjoy watching, who gave them endless pleasure. By becoming this person it helped cross racial barriers which was and still is extremely impactful. The unique value this man brought to society as a whole will forever live on in history, inspiring people of all ages and ethnicities, including myself.
If you want to experience Jordan’s claim to fame and feel his legacy, check out his brand of apparel and shoes at http://www.nike.com/us/en_us/c/jordan

References: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2014/11/25/basketball/nba/jordans-global-impact-transcended-racial-economic-boundaries/

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