In an uncreative society, the creatives are banned.
Ever hear the saying, “In an unjust society, the just are in prison?” 35 years ago it could have/should have been, “In an uncreative society, the creatives are ‘banned.’ ’’
35 years ago, Michael Jordan went toe-to-toe with then NBA Commissioner David Stern, who was enforcing the 51% Rule — NBA players needed to wear sneakers that had at least 51% white. On one side, sticking to tradition, at the expense of self-expression and individuality, Stern was stern to make all players comply.
But on the other side was the groundswell of the 20-something phenom, selling out arenas, breaking viewership records, and exploding into a borders-breaking pop-culture movement.
Nike approached MJ not just as an athlete, but a creator, an artist, a collaborator. And with visionaries like Tinker Hatfield cultivating a visual brand, this create a moment in social history of a permanent change. Things would never be the same.
Fast forward 35 years later after the chains have officially been lifted from NBA athletes, now able to wear personalized kicks and have rightfully expressed personal points of view. The stars on the court are now provided another vessel to spread their message, their individuality, their creativity.
And as you already know, this movement that started 35 years ago has spread into other major sports, with MLB and NFL following suit (maybe even a little ahead of the game).
51% white? Sure, if you want to. But the key is: back then, it wasn't a choice. Now, it is. Thanks, Nike. Thank you, MJ.