Growing up in Chicago as the son of the most polarizing figure in basketball, Marcus Jordan knew he had large shoes to fill. But the shoes he’s trying on now have nothing to do with playing the game that he and his father, Michael Jordan, love.
The iconic Chicago Bulls Trophy room was more than just the place that held six rings, five most-valuable-player trophies and the 14-time All-Star’s greatest moments like “the shrug,” “the flu game” or “the shot.”
It was the place where an 8-year-old kid grew up to understand and cherish legacy — not just his father’s legacy, but his own.
Now, 19 years later, Marcus Jordan has traded in his basketball jersey and his SpaceJam sneakers for Armani suits and Tom Ford shoes as he prepares to unveil his new retail boutique, The Trophy Room.
“It’s a really intimate concept that not only plays on my dad and the history of him and his NBA career, but also there’s a family aspect to it that we tie in with all of the photos and the feeling of wanting to further a legacy that is already tremendous,” Jordan said.
Set to open in Orlando between late spring and early summer, the new start-up will feature Air Jordan sneakers and Nike products, visually encompassing the same ideas that gave the trophy room in the Jordan household such glory.
“It’s not like Jordan Brand is opening another Flight 23 — this is, in every sense of the word, me working from the ground up to build this business,” Jordan said.
Jordan’s friend and former teammate A.J. Rompza believes that he’s just trying to write his own story.
“He’s trying to create his own legacy, he’s not taking away from his dad,” Rompza said. “Marcus has always been one person that excels in anything he wants to do.”
Marcus Jordan’s journey to becoming a mini-business mogul began in eighth grade, as the top player in the state of Illinois. As the son of an NBA pioneer, he quickly learned how to deal with outside expectations.
“People had expectations coming out to see me play that, ‘Oh, that is Michael Jordan’s son. Let’s check him out,’” he said. “You get everybody’s best game, everybody want to cross Michael Jordan’s son or try to dunk on Michael Jordan’s son.”
But no matter the challenge presented before him, Jordan excelled, leading the Whitney Young Dolphins to a state championship in his senior season, garnering offers from Division I schools such as Stanford and Penn State. But Jordan ultimately choose UCF, which was his first and last visit.
Jordan led UCF to a 14-0 start following his freshman year, leading the Knights to their first national ranking in program history.
“Marcus is one of the most competitive people you’ll ever meet,” Rompza said. “In everything he does he wants to win. For him to put UCF on the map the way he did, I mean it’s something that’ll be remembered forever.”
However, following another successful yet disappointing 22-11 season, and due in part to NCAA recruiting sanctions and a post-season ban, Jordan began to lose his fire for basketball.
“During my senior season, my brother and I were trying to launch our Air Jordan platform,” he said while referring to the start-up website Heir-Jordan.com. “There were a lot of things … from an NCAA standpoint that prevented that and it kind of rubbed me the wrong way. That, coupled with the post-season ban, I weighed my options in terms of declaring for the draft, but ultimately I wanted to get my degree … there was a point where I wasn’t having fun anymore.”
After taking a year off, Jordan began to travel, getting into fashion and the business of retail design, which became Jordan’s next great love.
In his senior year, Jordan began working with his dad’s tailor, designing his own apparel. He took six months to work on clothing design, crafting everything from denim to suits to button-up shirts.
“Originally, I was playing with the concept to merge [the] Jordan brand with the high-end fashion world,” he said. “I think the culture is heading that way, but [the] Jordan brand internally, they are not ready to take that step into high-end fashion.”
Jordan then began to tailor his ideas to an athletic retail boutique, encompassing the three main storylines of family, individual achievement and Jordan’s idea that “the footwear, apparel and memorabilia that I’ll feature in store are kind of trophies in their own right to the costumer.”
“He’s probably one of the smartest people that I’ve been able to talk to,” Rompza said. “He’s very intelligent. If he really wanted to he could of went to the NBA. I just think maybe that the business part is something that he wanted to follow, and he’s always been business oriented.”
Despite his change in career, Jordan is looking to keep his family’s name relevant for years to come.
“I want to create something of my own,” Jordan said. “I don’t want to work for someone. I want to get the vision that I have in my head out to the world, and let people feed off of that.”
Christopher Davis is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @ChristopherDTV or email him at ChristopherD@CentralFloridaFuture.com