SBD/10/Sports Industrialists

CHICAGO RETURNS TO THE CENTER OF THE MEDIA'S UNIVERSE

     Michael Jordan is expected to take two weeks to get into
shape before returning to play in the NBA with the Bulls,
according to reports out of Chicago this morning.  Jordan worked
out with the Bulls on Wednesday and Thursday, but had no comment
yesterday.  His agent, David Falk, and team officials "played
down reports, but none of them issued a denial."  Bulls Coach
Phil Jackson:  "It's a reality, but it's still not a reality"
(Mark Heisler, L.A. TIMES, 3/10).  ESPN cited a source who said
Jordan was done with baseball,  and when he returns to the NBA,
"it will be for the long haul perhaps even several years"
("SportsCenter," 3/9).
     CORPORATE MARKETER'S DREAM?  Many speculate on what Jordan's
return means to his already massive marketability.  In Chicago,
John Barron writes, "Jordan's endorsement deals, estimated to be
worth $30 million, undoubtedly would be enhanced by his NBA
exposure.  Yet the sponsors downplay the importance of the
potential shift back to basketball."  Nike official Tom Feuer:
"Jordan transcends the game he's playing at the moment.  He can
get attention drinking from a water fountain in Dubuque.  He's a
cultural icon.  Whatever he does is noteworthy."  Bill Schmidt,
Gatorade's VP/Worldwide Sports Marketing: "He's as valuable as
always, regardless of the uniform."  While a return should
increase corporate interest, Jordan could not field new offers.
"He's covered most of the major categories" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES,
3/10).
     NBA'S ONE-MAN DREAM TEAM?  Some believe Jordan's return
would benefit the NBA more than anyone.  Nova Lanktree, President
of Lanktree Passport Celebrity Service: "Their TV ratings are
down.  With Jordan, the NBA gets back to where it was" (CHICAGO
SUN-TIMES, 3/10).
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