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Because of Hachimura’s status as a national icon, there was a unique competition to land him as a sneaker endorser. It was a process that began long before Hachimura walked across the stage at Barclays Center on draft night, and it’s one he took seriously.
“I was looking for a unique and special partnership that was true to my background,” Hachimura said.
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Initially, seven companies presented to Hachimura, including basketball staples like Nike subsidiary Jordan Brand and multiple China-based companies. But, because of Hachimura’s background, that group also included a pair of basketball outsiders.
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Both Asics and Mizuno, who don’t currently sponsor any NBA players, presented extensive marketing plans, product concepts and pitches around making Hachimura the face of their company.
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Hachimura wore Mizuno sneakers throughout high school, and Ranne said the company “made a really great presentation.” Based a little over 200 miles south of his hometown of Toyama, the company presented the potential for him to put a Japanese brand on the map in the sport, a compelling premise for the 21-year-old.
However, Hachimura decided to sign with Jordan Brand, which offered a blend of proven performance products, marketing ability around the world and an opportunity to join a smaller stable of players within the larger Nike umbrella.
As the NBA appears to have moved past the preseason’s China controversy, the issue of load management has sparked up again with the start of the regular schedule.
But don’t let Michael Jordan catch you saying anything about it.
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Jordan, the principal owner of the Charlotte Hornets, addressed the idea of load management with players, former coach Steve Clifford told the New York Daily News on Wednesday.
Clifford, who is currently in his second season with the Orlando Magic, coached the Hornets from 2013 to 2018. He revealed what Jordan would tell the Hornets players every year.
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“Our guys aren’t used to sitting on the second game of a back-to-back… We’re not sitting guys just to sit,” Clifford told the Daily News. “For me, my background frankly, it all goes back to expectations. Being with Michael in Charlotte, Michael used to tell them every year, you’re paid to play 82 games.”
He added: “I’ve been doing this for 20 years and playing 82 games used to be a badge of courage for a lot of guys. There were always a lot of guys who didn’t want to play. They stood out more.”
Rui Hachimura said of his decision to sign with Jordan Brand, “They had a very good plan for me in Japan and internationally.” Courtesy Jordan Brand
“They were making him the first and only Japanese Jordan athlete,” Ranne said. “They were focused on making him a global ambassador, and not just a Japan or North America ambassador.”
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They also had an ace in the hole: Michael Jordan himself.
In addition to highlighting the company’s upcoming designs, innovations and marketing ideas in store for Hachimura during their May 10 pitch meeting, the Jordan team pulled out a mid-presentation surprise. “The Boss” was calling in to personally express his desire for Hachimura to join his Jordan Brand family.
“I could not stop thanking him for the opportunity,” he said. “It was really impressive.”
Through seven games this season, Hachimura is averaging 12.6 PPG (seventh among rookies) and 6.0 RPG (fourth). He’s done so while lacing up his own red and navy colorways of the new Air Jordan 34, accented by the flags of both Benin and Japan on the underside of each tongue, representing the native countries of his father and mom.
“It shows who I am,” he said. “It shows my unique background, which is important to me.”
Rui Hachimura’s Air Jordans feature the flags of Japan and Benin. Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images
In addition to the player exclusive sneakers, Hachimura was also featured in Jordan’s new “UNITE” commercial, alongside fellow newcomers Zion Williamson, Jayson Tatum and WNBA player Kia Nurse. Clad in a Jumpman logo shirt reading “TOKYO,” he’s flanked by a diverse young mix of multi-racial and Asian descent players in the spot.
“UNITE celebrates a generation coming together to create impact that goes beyond the game,” said Sean Tresvant VP of Global Brand Marketing, Jordan Brand. “He’s uniting a country and generation around basketball culture and inspiring them to believe in their uniqueness and the power of coming together.”
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While having Hachimura wearing the Jumpman is important to Jordan Brand throughout this NBA season, the bigger moment for the company — and for Hachimura himself — will come next summer, when Tokyo hosts the Summer Olympics.
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The addition of the new 3-on-3 event in tandem with the traditional 5-on-5 basketball tournament is expected to escalate interest in the game among Japanese youth. As the host, Japan will be participating for the first time since 1976. Hachimura, who played for Japan at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, is expected to be the star attraction, and making the most of that Olympic spotlight was one of the priorities of his new deal with Jordan.
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“They had a very good plan for me in Japan and internationally,” he said.
While exact details are still under wraps, the brand is planning out a variety of product capsule launches, experiential pop-up locations for consumers, and unique ways to tell Hachimura’s story in conjunction with the Olympic timeline in Japan.
“Obviously, we create great shoes that perform, but people respect those shoes when you have great stories,” said Humphrey. “He’s going to have some phenomenal stories for us to veneer on a product that people I think are going to love.”
While there’s expected to be tangible signs of Hachimura’s impact throughout the early stages of his career, the real imprint of his potential might not be fully realized until the close of his NBA journey.
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“It’ll be something to look at two years from now, and then 15 years from now,” Ranne said. “I’m a firm believer that when you see a player like this, there’s a generation of future players that happens, solely because of this moment. Because of him, they’ll focus on basketball.”
During his playing days, Michael Jordan’s talents seemed otherworldly but when it comes to philanthropy, the basketball legend is proving anyone can be brought to tears over an amazing cause.
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In his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, Jordan gave an emotional speech at the opening of a $7 million medical clinic that would guarantee healthcare for the uninsured in the city.
On Thursday (October 17), the Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic held its ribbon cutting ceremony. During his speech, MJ fought back the tears in describing how much it meant to give back to his community.
“It’s … from the heart,” he told the crowd gathered at the grand opening. “I stand here before you as a proud parent, son, obviously a member of this community. You see my name, but yet you see a lot of people behind me and the commitment, especially from my mom, about caring for other people and being a part of a community that matters.”
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The center has already been up and running for about three weeks and more than 300 people have reportedly been seen by doctors, social workers and other healthcare professionals.
Jordan donated $7 million to fund the center two years ago in hopes it would benefit financially struggling residents of the Charlotte area and improve access to medical care.
“Today we celebrated the grand opening of the Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic,” The center’s social media relayed. ‘With Michael’s generous $7 million donation, low-income Charlotte residents of all ages now have access to get the affordable medical care they need, with or without insurance.”
The center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Walk-ins are accepted along with same day appointments.
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Congratulations to Michael Jordan for this most generous offering.
Watch his full ribbon-cutting speech below.
Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan has opened up one of two medical clinics he’s funding, Charlotte Observer reports.
Jordan, who gave a $7.2 million donation to get the Novant Health clinics up and running in Charlotte, North Carolina, was at the Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic on Thursday for its opening and made a few remarks. “As you can see, it’s a very emotional thing for me to be able to give back to a community that’s supported me over the years,” the former North Carolina Tar Heels player said.
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The Michael Jordan Family, in partnership with @NovantHealth, unveiled the Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic in west Charlotte this morning. The clinic provides vital access to care to individuals in the community, including those who are uninsured or underinsured.
7:05 AM – Oct 18, 2019
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The clinics, which will have social workers, physical therapists, and more, will offer primary health care services to people who are uninsured or underinsured. “This clinic will not only provide access to medical care for those who need it most, but it will connect them to resources to ensure their health extends beyond the doctor’s office,” Carl Armato, CEO and president of Novant Health, said. The clinics are expected to serve around 35,000 children and adults over the course of 5 years.
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The Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic is open for business!3149 Freedom Drive Charlotte, NC 28202
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On Friday, Jordan met with Craig Melvin on Today to talk about the clinics and how they’re important to him.
“I think what drives me is that I know this clinic is needed within the community, and it’s going to provide a certain service.” Michael Jordan talks about the first of two medical clinics he’s fully funded in Charlotte, North Carolina
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The six-time NBA champion has been involved in multiple philanthropic efforts since he retired from professionally playing basketball.
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Just last month, Jordan pledged $1 million to help Hurricane Dorian relief efforts. “I am devastated to see the destruction that Hurricane Dorian has brought to the Bahamas, where I own property and visit frequently,” Jordan said at the time in a statement. “My heart goes out to everyone who is suffering and to those who have lost loved ones. As the recovery and relief efforts continue, I will be tracking the situation closely and working to identify non-profit agencies where the funds will have the most impact.
Back in 2016, Jordan, who stayed out of speaking on politics and social issues during his NBA career, shared a letter on Undefeated that touched on police violence. Jordan also said he was donating $1 milliton to The Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
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“As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers,” he wrote at the time. “I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.”