Veteran sports agent says key to Jordan value is few deals

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

CHICAGO (AP) — Michael Jordan's advisers strictly police the types of deals he enters to maximize his value, the architect of the six-time NBA champion's marketing strategy said Friday, and a grocery store's unauthorized use of his name in a steak ad hurt the strategy.

Sports management agent David Falk testified in a federal court case in Chicago that's delving into the market value of Jordan's identity. The issue is damages that the now-defunct Dominick's Finer Foods owes the former Chicago Bulls player for invoking his name without permission in a 2009 advertisement congratulating him on his Hall of Fame induction.

His attorneys say each commercial use of his name is worth $10 million. The defense says that's too high.

Falk says Jordan never enters into small one-time deals such as the Dominick's ad because they weaken his value. Instead, Jordan has limited his endorsement and marketing deals to long-term mega contracts with a few major companies such as Nike and McDonald's, Falk said.

He called it the Hope Diamond strategy.

"The Hope Diamond is the most valuable diamond in the world because it's rare," Falk said during a testy exchange with the defense attorney as Jordan looked on. "You can't cut it up into pieces. Certain things are indivisible and keeping them indivisible protects their value."

But Dominick's attorney Stephen Rosenfeld got Falk to acknowledge the issue at hand was to decide the fair market value of the company's use of Jordan's identity in a one-page congratulatory ad that ran for three months.