I was born in 1991, and all I heard about as my baptism into the sports world began was the Chicago Bulls. That dynasty transcends generations and remains a staple of what greatness is all about. Phil Jackson as head coach. Scottie Pippen. Dennis Rodman. Toni Kukoč. These guys were champions of the highest order, but none of it was possible without “His Airness,” Michael Jordan.
I’ll rattle off some of MJ’s accomplishments, but none of it does justice to what he did for the NBA and game of basketball as the global force it is today. Jordan went six-for-six in the NBA Finals, winning the MVP award in each one. There were five league MVPs, 14 All-Star selections, 10 All-NBA First Team honors, Slam Dunk Contest crowns, and enough statistics to fill the box score himself. On the floor, the debate rages on the NBA’s “Greatest of All Time.” Off the floor? There’s no contest.
The immortality of Michael Jeffrey Jordan is unrivaled in the sports world. All you need to do is take one look at the success of Nike’s Jordan Brand, or even MJ’s $1.9 billion net worth, to realize how impactful this icon still is today.
Even if you weren’t a huge basketball fan in Jordan’s prime, everybody still remembers Jordan’s iconic sports commercials over the years.
Michael Jordan Commercials
There were plenty to chose from. From comparing Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers prior to NBC’s Sunday Night Football to his numerous Hanes advertisements, Jordan is still as relevant today as he was as a player. There are tons, but here are some of my favorites that I can watch over and over again.
Be Like Mike
Is there really a better example of MJ’s legacy than Gatorade’s “Be Like Mike” commercial? Growing up in the 1990s, every basketball player wanted to be like Mike. But creating a super catchy jingle and showing MJ shooting hoops with regular kids on the playground? Absolute genius.
One listen to this, and you’ll be humming the all-time classic tune all week long.
Maybe It’s My Fault
Jordan reminiscing on the sacrifices it took to become legendary was poetry. This one still gives me chills every time I see it, especially with that climatic line to close: “Maybe, you’re just making excuses.”
LeBron James later duplicated this commercial with one, and as you’d expect, it was met with mixed reviews.
Gatorade: Is It In You?
The only thing NBA fans want to see more than Michael Jordan in his prime playing LeBron one-on-one is Michael Jordan playing Michael Jordan.
Gatorade featured MJ numerous times, but this one, with Jordan talking trash to his younger self, and even an appearance by the North Carolina Tar Heels version, is easily one of my all-time favorites.
Michael Jordan vs. Larry Bird
A shootout between Jordan and Boston Celtics Hall-of-Famer Larry Bird over a Big Mac from McDonald’s? You can keep the current NBA and give me this one-on-one matchup over and over again.
Jordan’s career was predicated on his unrivaled work ethic behind the scenes. Basketball die-hards recognize it as much, as only a few players like Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant even compare to MJ’s preparation.
MJ embraced that failure, and it’s exactly what made him a living legend. That mindset was the focus of Steve James’ book about Jordan’s “unique techniques and training systems” that made him a legend.
“It’s Gotta Be the Shoes”
What happens when Spike Lee — a.k.a. Mars Blackmon from She’s Gotta Have It — and Michael Jordan collide? You get one of the most memorable and powerful Air Jordan commercials Nike ever created. This one was a little bit before my time, but it’s STILL popular today.
I’d put Jordan up against any athlete in the world. How he changed the game of basketball on the floor is obvious, but off of it, the G.O.A.T. built a legacy in pop culture as a global icon that makes him one of the most important athletes to ever lace them up.