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Receiving ‘Merely’ $650,000, 21 Y/o Michael Jordan’s ‘Attendance Clause’ Idea Was Shot Down by the Bulls Owner: “He’d Better Put People in the Seats”

In the 1984 NBA Draft, Michael Jordan was drafted third, behind Hakeem Olajuwon and Sam Bowie. Subsequently, he signed a seven-year, $6.3 million contract with the Chicago Bulls, which made him $650,000 in his rookie year. As per Jordan, he did not get the signing bonus when he signed the deal. Therefore, MJ wanted to sign an ‘attendance’ deal with the Chicago Bulls. However, the offer was instantly shot down by the owner of the franchise.

After the Bulls won their first championship in 1991, Jordan’s influence and appeal reached its peak. He was bringing unprecedented attendance to the arena. Moreover, the Bulls started playing international games, where the NBA saw an overwhelming international crowd following Jordan.

However, contract disputes between the Bulls and their superstar player also increased with the latter’s growing fame. Apparently, Jerry Krause wanted to use the excess money to sign the Croatian basketball player, Toni Kukoč. Jordan was very upset with such a suggestion because both him and Pippen were unhappy with their pay at the time.

Chicago Bulls refused Michael Jordan an attendance clause in his rookie year

Jordan sat down with Marvin R. Shanken, Editor and Publisher of Cigar Aficionado, for an iconic interview in 2005 and addressed his rookie year contract with the Bulls. According to Jordan, he didn’t get any signing bonus the first year. In order to make more money, MJ and his agent David Falk tried to get an attendance clause in the contract. But the clause was instantly rejected by Jonathan Kovler, the then owner of the Bulls.  This is what Jordan told Shanken;

There was no signing bonus. We tried to get an attendance clause. They were averaging 6,000 people a game. So we thought, OK, we’re going to ask for an attendance clause. At the time, Jonathan Kovler was the owner. My agent, David Falk, went in and asked for that.” 

The six-time NBA champion said that Kovler never gave him the attendance contract and instead said that if the Bulls were drafting him at three, “he’d better put people in the seats.” Quite unsurprisingly, Jordan did bring the crowd into the stands. However, only after a few years, His Airness would transcend into possibly the most famous athlete in sports history.

Jordan earned a historic amount of money in his last two years

Jordan came back in 1995 after his first retirement from the NBA. The Bulls were eliminated by Shaquille O’Neal and the Orlando Magic in the 95 season. However, the Chicago side were back in business the next season and won their fourth championship in six years. The glory of Jordan didn’t go unrewarded. 

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He signed a $30 million contract/year with the Bulls. When the Bulls won another championship the next year, the Bulls legend received a historic salary from the Bulls. In his last season, he got a $3 million raise to his $30 million contract. The $33 million yearly salary remained the highest in the NBA until the 2017-18 season.

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