At an event in New York City in September 1997, Michael Jordan and Nike launched Jordan Brand as an official sub-brand. Building on the 12-year success of the Air Jordan line, Jordan's Jumpman logo adorned a collection of premium sports and casual wear that would debut at retail during the holiday season.
To coincide with the launch, Jordan introduced the brand's first endorsers, known as Team Jordan. The group included Ray Allen and Vin Baker of the Milwaukee Bucks, Derek Anderson of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Michael Finley of the Dallas Mavericks and Eddie Jones of the Los Angeles Lakers. These players would represent Jordan on the court in non-signature Jumpman sneakers, player exclusive Air Jordans, and, occasionally, their own models.
With two years of success under its belt, Jordan Brand would expand in 1999. They announced the addition of Vancouver Grizzlies guard Mike Bibby to the basketball lineup, along with boxer Roy Jones Jr., Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss, and New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. The moves solidified Jordan as a brand beyond basketball.
Jordan is now a $2.25 billion annual business, with aspirations of doubled growth by 2020. While Michael Jordan was certainly the biggest factor in establishing Jordan Brand as a global powerhouse, the original members of Team Jordan helped lay the foundation. Here's a look back at these athletes and what they're up to now.
Ray Allen (Signed: 1997, retired: 2014)
Aside from Michael Jordan, Ray Allen is the most successful Team Jordan basketball player to date. An explosive attacker at the beginning of his career, Allen developed into arguably the NBA's all-time greatest shooter and one of its most clutch shot makers. After impressive stints in Milwaukee and Seattle, Allen played a key role on championship teams in Boston and Miami and passed Reggie Miller for the most three-pointers made in NBA history.
Derek anderson (signed: 1997, retired: 2008)
The phrase "solid pro" comes to mind when you think of Derek Anderson. He played 11 total seasons, finishing with averages of 12 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game. In 2006, he helped the Miami Heat win its first NBA championship in franchise history.
Vin baker (signed: 1997, Left: 2002)
Before stretch bigs were the norm in the NBA, Vin Baker made a name for himself with deceptive versatility. At 6'10", Baker was athletic, had a quick first step, and one of the sweetest face-up jumpers you'll ever see.
michael finley (signed: 1997, retired: 2010)
The silky smooth game of Michael Finley made him one of the most enjoyable players to watch in the late '90s and early 2000s. Along with Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki, Finley helped form a powerful trio that transformed the Dallas Mavericks from a laughing stock into a perennial contender.
Eddie Jones (singed: 1997, retired: 2008)
If you want to know why it took two years for Kobe Bryant to get off the bench, look no further than Eddie Jones. The dynamic two-way player only spent five seasons with the Lakers, but is still one of the most beloved players in the franchise's recent history. He also had an All-Star season in Charlotte and helped the Miami Heat develop a winning culture.
mike bibby (signed: 1999, retired: 2012)
At just 6'2", Bibby played with a big heart that leveled the field against his NBA peers. If the Sacramento Kings of the 2000s hadn't ran into the juggernaut Los Angeles Lakers dynasty (and shady officiating), we'd probably be talking about Bibby as an NBA champion today.
derek jeter (Signed: 1999, Retired: 2014)
With names like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra in the mix, finding a spot on the New York Yankees' Mount Rushmore is no easy feat. However, it's tough to find a Yanks fan that wouldn't give Derek Jeter a spot on that very short list. Dubbed "The Captain," Jeter led the Yankees to five World Series victories, earning the bulk of his reputation by regularly coming up big in the postseason.
Roy Jones Jr. (signed: 1999, Retired: ???)
Simply put, Jones is one of the best to ever put on a pair of gloves. His way of fighting with his hands down drove some boxing purists crazy, but lighting quick reflexes made him a hard target to hit despite the relaxed style. Jones had everything you want in a boxer—speed, knockout power, charisma, and a strong fighter's mentality, making him one of the sport's true modern era superstars.
Randy Moss (signed: 1999, Left: 2004)
A future Hall of Famer, Randy Moss will go down as one of the greatest football players of all time. While it'd be tough to best Jerry Rice in an overall receiver argument, Moss was unquestionably the most gifted pass catcher in the game's history, using his unique combination of size and speed to make it look like he was playing against the rest of the NFL on easy mode.