In part 1 of this article, we looked at the advertising cards that were issued to help sell athletic shoe stores and other outlets sell Nike’s sports posters from 1982-1992. In part 2 we will focus on the posters of Michael Jordan.
MJ & Nike
In October 1984, after skipping his senior year in college Michael Jordan signed a five-year, $4-million contract with the Chicago Bulls. He also signed a five-year contract with Nike which paid him $500,000 annually, plus royalties, after the company promised to name a new shoe after him. The first Air Jordan sneaker worn by Jordan , are reportedly the ones shown below.
Nike released the first Air Jordans to the public in April of 1985 and quickly started using posters as part of their “Air Jordan” advertising campaign. The first two Jordan posters that came out in 1985 were “Air Jordan” (290850) and “Freeze Frame” (290851) which were Type 1 (see part 1 of this article for definitions), and issued out of numerical sequence. Since they were available in 1985, my guess is that Nike wanted to get these Jordan posters out immediately with their Air Jordan campaign, but, the other numbers (290811 to 849) were already assigned and lined up for other posters. Maybe they rushed these to the front of the line in order to issue them for their promotion ?
Anyway, the iconic “Air Jordan” poster was an instant hit and could well be considered a “true” rookie card since it was produced well before his 1986 Fleer card (FYI – an “Air Jordan” poster card graded PSA 9 just sold for ca. $1000).
These two posters/cards were followed by “Blue and Black” (290858) which shows Jordan on an airport runway. “Imagination” (290867), a slow motion dunk poster, was issued in 1986 followed by “Shirts and Skins” (290868) showing Jordan in a pick up game in a playground.
Jordan joined fictional character “Mars Blackmon” (Spike Lee from the 1986 movie “Shes Gotta Have it”) for 1988’s “Earth/Mars” (290874) and 1989’s “High Flyin’ 360” (290888) , “Is it the Shoes ?” was produced with both a black and a white background (290837 & 290838) followed by “Orbit” (290848) in 1990.
In 1988 Jordan “MVP” was issued as a blank back but we know its Nike number is 290883 from Nike catalogs issued at the time. “Playground” (290891) was released in 1989 followed by “Reverse Dunk” (290909) and “Slam & Jam” (290922) also in 1990.
In 1991 Jordan appears as a comic book figure in “Super Jordan” (290946), teams up with Spike Lee and 1950s Rock-N-roller Little Richard for the iconic poster “Genie” (290948) and issued the mysterious poster “Evolution” (290994). In 1992, Jordan posters included “Sky Jordan” (291002), “Jordan Cloud” (291003) and “Art of the Dunk” (291005).
In 1992 there were also Jordan + Buggs bunny posters “Hare Jordan” (291001) and “That’s All Folks” (291010). The iconic Jordan poster “Wings” is listed in the Nike catalogs as 292335 another totally out of sequence number, but we know from its presence in the Smithsonian that it was issued in 1989.
In addition as we have said, four of the Nike Jordan poster cards, specifically “Imagination”, “Shirts & Skins”, “High Flyin 360” and “Earth/Mars” were reprinted in the 1991/92 season as Type 3 poster cards vs their previous type 1, 2 and 4 production. That makes a total of 27 Jordan poster cards.
Lastly, we should mention two other poster cards. Poster card #290812 called “No finish line”. It has been sold and auctioned off as a Michael Jordan poster card, but you certainly cannot see his face and there is no mention in any Nike advertising that this was Jordan. I have contacted photographer Bill Sumner, who took many of the Nike poster pictures including this one, and he confirmed, stating “no that’s not Michael Jordan. It’s a player that I found in a gym the day I took the photo at North Texas State”.
End of story.
The other card shown below is listed as Supreme Court (recall 290201 the first poster card was titled Supeme Court). It clearly shows Jordan (second from the left, next to Barkley. It is shown in a 1989 catalog (meaning it was available in 1989 or prior year) but does not have a Nike number shown.
The complete list of 5 x 7 NIKE Jordan poster cards, that we know of, produced during the 1982 – 1992 time frame, are shown below.
|Nike Number||POSTER TITLE||TYPE||Year of Poster Issue|
|837||Is it the shoes (Jordan, Lee) white||3||1990*|
|838||Is it the shoes (Jordan, Lee) black||3||1990*|
|850||Air Jordan – Michael Jordan||1||1985|
|851||Jordan freeze frame – Michael Jordan||1||1985|
|858||Jordan blue & black – Michael Jordan||1||1985|
|867 (1)||Imagination Michael Jordan||1||1986|
|868 (1)||Shirts & skins||1||1986/87|
|874 (4)||Earth / Mars (Jordan / Lee)||4||1988|
|888 (2)||High fly ‘n 360||2||1989|
|909||Reverse Dunk (Michael Jordan)||3||1990|
|922||Jam ‘N Slam (Jordan)||3||1990|
|948||Jordan / Genie (Jordan, Lee, Richard)||3||1991|
|1001||Hare Jordan (M. Jordan/Bugs Bunny)||3||1992|
|1002||Sky Jordan (M.Jordan)||3||1992|
|1003||Jordan cloud (M. Jordan)||3||1992|
|1005||Art of the Dunk (M. Jordan)||3||1992|
|1010||That’s All Folks (M. Jordan /Bugs Bunny)||3||1992|
|290XXX||Supreme Court||4||1988-89 ?|
|867 (3)||Imagination (Jordan)||3||1991/92**|
|868 (3)||shirts & skins (Jordan)||3||1991/92**|
|874 (3)||Earth / Mars (Jordan / Lee)||3||1991/92**|
|888 (3)||High fly ‘n 360||3||1991/92**|
|* issued out of chronological order|
|** reissued in 1991/92 as type 3 poster cards|
Send questions or comments to Dr. Phil Garrou at [email protected] and visit his Nike Poster card blog at https://pegarrou.blogspot.com/