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In 1985, Michael Jordan rocked a pair of Nike kicks that launched a worldwide phenomenon. The Jordan Brand took off with athletes of all levels wanting to wear the shoes in hopes they could “Be like Mike.”

In the world of athlete brands, there is no bigger name than Jordan. While Tiger and LeBron have eponymous brands at the Oregon-based Nike company,  Jordan’s brand is the first, the most widely recognized and the most successful. After 25 years,  Jordan still dominates the basketball shoe market garnering more than 80 percent of all sales.

And for 25 years, Team Jordan was exclusively a boys club. Until this week when the No. 1 WNBA draft pick and former UConn star Maya Moore became the first female basketball player to sign with the iconic brand. While Moore is not the first female athlete to ever have a big endorsement deal, she’s the first to have done so with Nike’s most prestigious label. And given her star power, it’s no surprise.

By inking the deal, Moore follows in the footsteps of such elite players as Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade. The 6-foot forward, who was a key factor in UConn’s record-breaking 90-game winning streak, talked about what the deal means on the WNBA website

 

“Joining team Jordan is an accomplishment on another level,” Moore said. It’s almost like when you’re choosing to go to college, you want to surround yourself with the best. That’s why I went to UConn, and I want to do the same thing now that I’m a pro. I had the opportunity to be a part of Team Jordan and I jumped at that opportunity.”

 

Moore was selected by the Lynx out of the University of Connecticut last month. Considered one of the best female players to turn pro in years, she was the dominant force in women’s college basketball for four years, winning two titles, making four Final Four appearances and becoming the first four-time first team All-American in the history of the sport. She also scored more than 3,000 points in her career with the Huskies.

 Plus, she wears #23 jersey just like Jordan. “It definitely made the number more appealing when I was deciding in college what number I was going to wear. I can’t deny that because Jordan was 23, it made the number absolutely more appealing.”

Referring to the newest addition to the Nike family, Jordan said.

“Not only has Maya proven to be a prolific winner on the court, but her hunger and determination to make an impact off the court makes her a valuable addition to the Jordan family. We look forward to working with Maya as she carries her success to the next level.”

In her upcoming season with the WNBA, Moore will proudly rock the Jumpman’s kicks as proves she’s a trailblazer on and off the court. Hopefully she’ll start popping up in Nike commercials and in a variety of other Nike efforts as well.  And if a signature shoe is introduced down the line, the Moore brand may rival Jordan’s in the hearts and minds of aspiring female basketball players around the world. Game on.

The 2011 WNBA season tips off on June 3rd.

@jschonb

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May 20, 2011

Maya Moore first woman signed by Nike’s Jordan brand

In 1985, Michael Jordan rocked a pair of Nike kicks that launched a worldwide phenomenon. The Jordan Brand took off with athletes of all levels wanting […]