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Michael Jordan is known as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, but he’s a bit of a Renaissance man. He once famously left professional basketball to play baseball before coming back to the NBA and winning another round of championships with the Bulls, and he’s constantly golfing. MJ is also an actor, frequently playing himself in movies and videos.
He’s also a major mover of whatever merchandise is attached to his name. The Michael Jordan brand was particularly powerful in his ascendant days, throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s. Marketing executives from a variety of industries were competing to get his signature on their stuff. And the automotive industry was no exception.
Endorsements for the basketball star
It’s 1984, MJ’s first year in the NBA. As GQ tells it, he’s 21 years old and already turning heads in the field. Chevrolet snaps him up to do a few commercials, and in return, he receives a stylish Corvette C4. 13 years later, during the iconic 1997 season depicted by the documentary The Last Dance, he’s given another Corvette, the C5. MJ in that first red Corvette is a legendary image.
By 2006, GM wanted in on the action, and they sent him three Cadillac XLR-Vs to choose from. But they may have waited too long, as Michael Jordan was by then retired and no longer moving units like he used to.
Michael Jordan picks out his own cars, too
Free cars are nice, but when you’re an international superstar with millions of dollars of endorsement deals with Nike, you can write a few checks. The types of cars MJ purchased himself run the gamut from sports to golf to racing.
In 1989, the Porsche 930 Turbo Cabriolet was introduced, also called the “Flat Nose.” The original Air Jordan sneakers released in 1985 were a major hit. According to GQ, the Flat Nose may have been the template for the Air Jordan VI.
With the ‘90s comes an interesting assortment of cars. We see different aspects of Michael Jordan’s personality and life history reflected in his collection. The Toyota Land Cruiser J80 carted around foursomes and golf clubs, and the Ferrari 512TR reminded everyone who the GOAT is. The Mercedes W140 S600 Coupé By Lorinser was a more somber choice, and the Porsche 993 Turbo S in his signature red was a celebratory “retirement” gift.
New cars for a new century
By the 2000s, MJ’s career was winding down, and he turned to a new series of cars. In step with a gracefully aging superstar, these models are an impressive collection of black and silver.
A Bentley Continental GT in 2005 inherits the legacy of the Flat Nose and evokes the Air Jordan XXI design. His McLaren-Mercedes SLR 722 and Bugatti Veyron Sang Noir, of 2007 and 2010 respectively, are among the most fabulous of his vehicles. The SLR is currently up for sale for just over a half-million dollars, and the Bugatti, one of only 12 of its kind, is worth about $2.2 million.
Michael Jordan is famous for his ability to pick up a new sport and excel at it. His newest sport? Starting a 2021 Nascar team. Bubba Wallace will be on his team, driving a 23XI Racing Toyota.
MJ said in a statement that he’s thrilled to be working with Wallace, who is currently the only black driver in professional racing, as reported by GQ. “Historically, Nascar has struggled with diversity. I see this as a chance to educate a new audience and open more opportunities for black people in racing.”
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