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Bottom Line Is With the NBA lockout over, what will Michael Jordan do? Will he slide into retirement as he hinted last spring? Will he play one more year? Everyone waits for his answer.

Will he, or won't he? This is no mere mortal oakley shopping the world waits to hear from. This is Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player who ever lived. His face is as well known in Third World countries as Muhammad Ali's. His image is so powerful, it can impact TV ratings, league attendance and the rise and fall of the stock market. In 1993, when Jordan retired'' from the NBA to play baseball, a rumor raced through Wall Street that he was going to play basketball again. Within minutes, the combined stock market value of companies whose products Jordan endorsed rose by $1 billion. One rumor. One man. One billion dollars. The Chicago Bulls paid Jordan $33 million to play basketball last season. He earned another $37 million from endorsements. There's no one like him in endorsements, period,'' said Bob Williams, president of Burns Sports, a sports marketing firm. In the past decade, Jordan's name, face and voice have been linked to products made by General Mills, Hanes, Wilson, McDonald's, Quaker Oats, Sara Lee, Chevrolet, Rayovac, Oakley, Nike and Coke. Forbes magazine estimated that Jordan has pulled in $300 million in salary and endorsements this decade. He has helped sell everything from calling cards to underwear. Jordan's face has appeared on a Wheaties box 13 oakley radar times. Gatorade pays him $18 million to endorse a sports drink. We go into countries where they don't have a clue about what a sports beverage is,'' said Bill Schmidt, Gatorade marketing executive, but they know Michael. He's instant validation. We manage him as if he were a brand.'' Gatorade revenue has climbed by $837 million since Jordan signed on. Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports, thought about NBA basketball without Jordan during deliberations for the network's four year, $1.75 billion TV contract. At some point in this new deal that begins this season, we knew Michael would stop playing,'' Ebersol said. I personally believed it would be sooner than later. I'm going to be as disappointed as any 8 year old boy in Chicago that one of the greatest athletes of this century won't be playing anymore. He's given as much to the game as any one person could, both on and off the court.'' Early in Jordan's career, he was paid oakley symbol on sunglasses $2.5 million by an ailing trainer company named Nike to promote a new sneaker. By the end of the first year, Nike revenue reached $130 million. trainer market. There have been 13 editions of the Air Jordan sneaker since Nike marketed the first one. The sneakers still sell out in 48 hours at $150 a pair. Even now, when I see kids wearing my shoes, it's kind of wild,'' Jordan said. Sometimes, I still feel shocked.'' Overall, Jordan products have grossed about $2.6 billion for Nike. One of Jordan's smallest endorsements $500,000 a year is with Oakley sunglasses. But he also receives a seat on the board and stock options. Jordan's movie, Space Jam,'' was on the list of top selling videos for 29 weeks. His Come Fly With Me'' was the No. 4 sports video in 1997 nine years after its release. Since his early days with Nike, Jordan has been marketed as a man who understands the frustrations and aspirations of the common man. In oakley assault gloves one Nike ad campaign, he was shown missing baskets in key games. I've failed over and over again in my life,'' Jordan said. And that's why I succeed.'' For Americans fearful of failure, it was the ultimate feel good message. In 1984 85, Jordan's rookie season, Bulls' home attendance was 6,365 a game. Now it's more than 24,000, and the team has sold out 489 consecutive times. Chicago is also the NBA's top draw on the road, averaging more than 20,000 a night. The only two years in the '90s the Bulls weren't first in attendance were the two seasons Jordan was in retirement. TV ratings for NBA Finals involving the Bulls were 24 percent higher than the two when Jordan was playing baseball. The lockout probably won't have any effect on TV ratings until the postseason,'' said Steve Grubbs of BBDO Worldwide Advertising.

Michael Jordan's return may have a bigger impact than anything.'' And, if he doesn't return, life after basketball will not find Jordan behind a mike in a broadcast booth. He and NBC's Ebersol talked about it in October.


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