Sometimes, it's easy to forget just how popular Michael Jordan was in the mid-1990's. Sure, he was popular stateside. Those of us old enough to remember his near-impeachable status can remember that. But where Jordan really broke ground was across the world -- he was without question the most popular athlete in the world for much of his career. His Olympics successes and endorsements from companies eager to globalize their brands created the sort of athletic star power the likes of which had never before been seen.
So it makes sense, then, that the U.S. Olympics Committee and Chicago 2016's organizers would attempt to get Jordan in on the act. And they've done just that, according to the Chicago Tribune. Jordan will appear in Chicago Olympics ads as early as today on local television stations:
The video was developed using footage of Jordan in a Chicago 2016 athlete endorsement film, "Moments," which was shown to the International Olympic Committee's Evaluation Commission during its visit in April. "The Olympic spirit -- it's alive in Chicago," Jordan said on that film. The international superstar played for the U.S. team that won gold at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.
"Having athletes like Michael and April appear in our PSAs reinforces the support we have from the athlete community while giving the people of Chicago a glimpse into how the Olympic movement changed their lives," bid leader Patrick Ryan said in a prepared statement.
Jordan is the perfect pitchman. He's the man that spawned "It Must Be The Shoes," and "Be Like Mike," and a movie deal and the cologne and his own sub-brand, all previously unheard for an athlete. Jordan's brand especially remains a testament to his selling power. His shoes are among the most popular athletic releases (the vintage ones go for as much as $500), and he still moves clothing and the like despite not having played for almost a decade. It's remarkable.
If Chicago's bid for the Olympics gets even a inkling of that marketing prowess to rub off on their bid -- combined with Barack Obama's international popularity -- it will be hard for any of the other contenders to match the Windy City's star power.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.