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“He’s Making $5,000,000 But Has To Pay Me For Sneakers”: Michael Jordan’s Jealousy For Being Underpaid In The 90s Came To A Boil

Michael Jordan, one of the best players to step on the court, is a debatable talk, but not when it comes to money. He is the richest basketball player on the planet Earth and continues to grow his business. However, as it might look today in 2023, the case was not the same when Jordan was still playing in the 1980s and 1990s with the Chicago Bulls.

Although Jordan proved himself as the next big thing just after he was drafted, his first championship win in 1991 changed everything. Everything about Jordan and the Bulls changed after that except for what the Bulls legend was being paid. Despite being the unchallenged top superstar in the league, Jordan was being paid far less than other stars on different teams. Where players like John Williams, also known as Hot Rod, were making $5 million a year, Jordan was making $3 million. This irked the six-time NBA champion a lot.  

As a rookie, Jordan signed a seven-year contract with the Chicago Bulls. After being drafted by the team, Michael was paid $6.3 million in total for seven years. If seen by today’s standards, the contract appears humiliating for a player of that caliber. Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of the Bulls, also knew he was getting the most with the minimum investment. Moreover, Jordan received a $250,000 signing bonus and a $455,000 base salary for his rookie season. 

“He’s got to pay me for the sneakers”: The way Michael Jordan made money

As the seasons passed and Black Jesus’ popularity increased across the globe, he knew he deserved more. Having outplayed the value of his contract by a huge margin, Michael became antsy. The reason was other players, who he was better than, were earning more than him.

Over the years, Jordan’s signature shoes from Nike became crowd favorites. The overall sale of his signature shoes skyrocketed. However, despite his stardom, he was still making less than many players in the league. It was his massive payment cheque from the shoe giant, that made his overall payment higher than other players. From the basketball courts to the streets, ‘Air Jordan’ became a household name, and the only reason was Michael Jordan.  

Sam Smith, then an NBA writer for the Chicago Bulls, wrote in his book, “The Jordan Rules,” about Michael’s discontent. Smith writes that one time MJ came across a picture of Williams and his kind. The Cavs NBA star was wearing a Nike t-shirt and his kids were wearing Air Jordans. Looking at the picture, the six-time NBA champion remarked, “He’s making five million dollars, but he’s got to pay me for the sneakers.”

Michael Jordan’s NBA salary was more than the overall team salary

After his first retirement, Jordan came back to play for the Bulls again in 1995. Despite him coming mid-season, the Bulls made it to the playoffs but failed to win the championship. Michael’s comeback changed the next season, and with a different mentality and a better team around him, he won his fourth ring in only six years. 

The NBA was good to Jordan.

In 1997, his $33M salary was worth more than the average team payroll.


It was the highest salary up until 2018.

— Andrew Petcash (@AndrewPetcash) August 14, 2022

Jordan’s impact was well known, and the Bulls didn’t want to gamble on that. They paid him a massive $30.1 million in a one-year contract extension. This salary was higher than the total average salary of the teams in the league. Moreover, the bar was pushed even more. Next year, when MJ won the fifth championship in the last seven years, the team raised his salary by $3 million, making it $33.1 million.

It remained a record in the league until 2018. The increase in Jordan’s salary was also due to the fact that Mike knew his worth in the market, and the team didn’t want to take any chances by disappointing him.

The post “He’s Making $5,000,000 But Has To Pay Me For Sneakers”: Michael Jordan’s Jealousy For Being Underpaid In The 90s Came To A Boil appeared first on The SportsRush.

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