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Team Jordan: Looking Back at the First Jordan Brand Athletes

The Original Team Jordan Members
The Original Team Jordan Members

Jordan Brand, a sub-label of Nike, was established in 1997. Jumpman forever changed the landscape of athletic endorsements and apparel. This revolutionary brand, birthed from the legacy of the greatest player ever, Michael Jordan himself, took a significant stride in 1997 and 1999 by signing a remarkable lineup of athletes across various sports. These original members of Team Jordan not only elevated the brand's prestige but also diversified its influence beyond basketball. Twenty-five-plus years later, let's look at the athletes who helped take the Air Jordan legacy from His Airness, elevate it to a brand, and shape it into a billion-dollar company.

Ray Allen (1997)

Ray Allen for Team Jordan (Jordan 13 Ray Allen PE)
Ray Allen for Team Jordan (Jordan 13 Ray Allen PE)

One of the first to join Team Jordan, Ray Allen, would lace up Air Jordan's throughout his entire NBA career. A Jordan Brand lifer, Sugar Ray was seen on-court for the Milwaukee Bucks, Seattle Supersonics, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat repping the Jumpman. Throughout his illustrious hall-of-fame career, every milestone achieved on the hardwood was done in Air Jordans. Some of his player exclusives are the most sought-after in the sneaker-collecting community. He is known as Jesus Shuttlesworth, thanks to his leading role in the Spike Lee joint He Got Game, and will go down as one of the greatest shooters in NBA history.

Vin Baker (1997)

Vin Baker For Team Jordan (Jordan Jumpman Vindicate Vin Baker)
Vin Baker For Team Joran - Jordan Jumpman Vindicate Vin Baker

Vin Baker was another early Jordan Brand signee in 1997. Baker, alongside his Milwaukee Bucks teammate Ray Allen, was a force to be reckoned with in the NBA. His powerful presence in the paint and versatility as a forward made him a standout athlete during his career. He also had a Team Jordan sneaker named in his honor, the Jumpman Vindicate. While not an official signature sneaker, the name made it synonymous with Baker. He was also the face of the Jumpman Pro Strong.

Eddie Jones (1997)

Eddie Jones for Team Jordan - Jumpman Quick VI Eddie Jones PE
Eddie Jones for Team Jordan - Jumpman Quick VI Eddie Jones PE

Eddie Jones signed to Jordan Brand as one of the first Team Jordan athletes in 1997. At the time, Jones was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers with a promising career ahead of him. Known for his defensive tenacity and athletic scoring ability, his dynamic play and charisma on the court reflected the energy and spirit of the Jordan Brand. Like Vin Baker, Jones had a Team Jordan sneaker named after him, the Jumpman Quick VI and the Jumpman Swift VI. While neither is considered a signature sneaker, they are synonymous with Eddie, as is the Jumpman Pro Quick. Jones remained a member of Team Jordan throughout his entire 14-year NBA career.

Michael Finley (1997)

Michael Finley For Team Jordan - Jordan 16 Finely PE
Michael Finley For Team Jordan - Jordan 16 Finely PE

Michael Finley, a breakout star for the Dallas Mavericks, became part of Team Jordan in 1997. As a player known for scoring, athleticism, and leadership, Finley perfectly encapsulated the essence of the Jordan Brand. Finley, a one-time NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs in 2007, would represent Jordan Brand on the court for over twelve years before retiring after the 2010 season.

Derek Anderson (1997)

Derek Anderson For Team Jordan - Jordan 11 Low Concord PE
Derek Anderson For Team Jordan - Jordan 11 Low Concord PE

Derek Anderson, signed by Jordan Brand in 1997, began his tenure with Team Jordan as a young guard on the Cleveland Cavaliers. He is known mainly for having some of the best Air Jordan Retro player exclusives during the brand's early days. Anderson was the first player not named Michael Jordan to receive a Concord iteration of the Air Jordan 11 in low-top form! PE collectors still consider Anderson's retros some of the most sought-after pairs. This classification is especially true since they are known to be some of the hardest to obtain, mainly because they were produced in very low numbers.

Derek Jeter (1999)

Derek Jeter For Team Jordan - Jordan Jeter Lux 2.0 Cleat Kalamazoo PE
Derek Jeter For Team Jordan - Jordan Jeter Lux 2.0 Cleat Kalamazoo PE

Derek Jeter, a legendary figure in baseball, was signed by Jordan Brand in 1999, marking the brand's foray into the baseball world. He also had a successful signature footwear line for many years, which included pairs like the Jumpman DJ, and the Jeter Six4Three. The hall-of-fame shortstop and New York Yankees captain epitomized what being a Team Jordan member meant. A class act on and off the field, Jeter's legacy has lived on through exclusive Air Jordan Retro's tied to his RE2PECT theme, such as the Air Jordan 1 Retro High and the Air Jordan 11 Retro Low.

Randy Moss (1999)

Randy Moss For Team Jordan - Jordan Jumpman Super Freak
Randy Moss For Team Jordan - Jordan Jumpman Super Freak

Randy Moss, a superstar in the NFL, was signed by Jordan Brand in 1999. He was the first football player to join Team Jordan. His explosive speed, remarkable playmaking ability, and dominance on the football field made him an embodiment of the excellence and athleticism that the Jordan Brand represents. Starting his NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings, Moss was one of the first athletes to receive an Air Jordan 11 Retro PE. They are some of the rarest player exclusives of all time, with less than a handful of pairs surfacing over twenty-plus years. Outside of Randy's rare Jordan 11s, he was given the NFL's first signature sneaker, the Jordan Super Freak (renamed the Cover 3 when it was retroed in 2010).

Mike Bibby (1999)

Mike Bibby For Team Jordan - Air Jordan 17 Bibby PE
Mike Bibby For Team Jordan - Air Jordan 17 Bibby PE

In 1999, Mike Bibby joined the ranks of Team Jordan. Starting his career with the Vancouver Grizzlies, Bibby would become as synonymous with Jordan Brand as any other Jordan Brand athlete. Known for balling in low-tops, Bibby produced some of the most iconic player exclusives while a member of the Sacramento Kings. What made Bibby's PEs so sought after, outside of the sick purple-themed color combinations, was that he wore a size 12, a size that some collectors could fit and, in turn, wear, breaking necks left and right. Some of his PEs during the twilight of his career with teams such as the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat were also a force to be reckoned with. But none seem to hold as much regard as his Kings pairs.

Roy Jones Jr. (1999)

Roy Jones Jr. For Team Jordan - Jordan Roy Jones Jr Boxing Shoe Sample
Roy Jones Jr. For Team Jordan - Jordan Roy Jones Jr Boxing Shoe Sample

Renowned boxer Roy Jones Jr. became part of Team Jordan in 1999, introducing the brand into the boxing arena. Jones, known for his incredible speed, agility, and power in the ring, mirrored the dynamic and powerful image that Jordan Brand aimed to project in the world of sports. Outside of wearing Team Jordan training sneakers such as the Jordan Trunner, he also had his sneaker, the Jordan RJ Bolo Trainer, and a boxing shoe. His professional boxing record of 66-10 spans over thirty years, which includes multiple world championships in four weight classes.

Current Team Jordan Members

Team Jordan 2024
Jayson Tatum, Gabby Williams, Luka Doncic, and Zion Williams

The original members of Team Jordan, both the class of 1997 and the class of 1999, were not just ambassadors of a brand; they were the pioneers who helped shape Jordan Brand's identity across multiple sports on a global scale. Their legacy continues to inspire new generations of athletes and the ethos of Jordan Brand, which stands for excellence, innovation, and style in sports. Without this core group of nine paving the way, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, Zion Williamson, Jayson Tatum, or Luka Doncic might never have had a Jordan Brand to join.

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