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Michigan’s Nike deal impacts more than just football

Photo: Adam Biggers | Today's U

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — It wasn’t your ordinary product reveal. Nope. Not even close to that. For some, the die-hards, it was probably something closer to a religious experience of sorts outside of the MDen on State Street — one led by their leader.

Yes, Jordan’s Jumpman is here. Yes, the Nike brand has reunited with Michigan, and with an MJ-twist.

The up to 11-year deal with the world’s most recognizable athletic brand — and with one of the most revered athletes — is a show of power signifying Michigan’s return to its rightful position in the world of college football. With that being said, it’s a new era for Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines, who are among favorites to compete for a national championship in 2016.

However, the impact of Jordan-Jumpman-Nike in Ann Arbor will stretch far beyond The Big House.

Every corner, each of the 31 outfitted teams, will greatly benefit from the well-timed partnership worth up to $194 million in cash, gear and support.

“This is like your birthday, Christmas morning, like Opening Day, all rolled into one,” said baseball coach Erik Bakich, who lightly borrowed from Harbaugh’s stock of quotes. “Whether you’re a recruit, a Michigan alum, a fan or a baseball recruit, this is something that we can all share in the excitement.

“It’s just very exciting to be a part of. In all the sports, and on the recruiting front, what prospective high school athlete wouldn’t want to be a part of all the positive energy that this has built?

“This is as good as it gets.”

Smooth, sharp and clean, the Wolverines’ baseball uniforms stand out in a simple way. Nothing too fancy. But definitely worth a second look. Michigan will wear Nike everything on the diamond. As for equipment, the team’s deal with Wilson (gloves) and DeMarini (bats) will remain intact. But spikes, batting gloves, and maybe even more, will be adorned with the familiar “Swoosh.”

And who knows, maybe Derek Jeter will have something to do with Wolverines baseball in the future? That’s something that Bakich would like to explore, as the former New York Yankees great is certainly a “Michigan Man,” by all accounts.

“He knows all the words to the fight song,” said Bakich. “He’s one of the classiest pro athletes that I’ve ever met. I know he’s a huge Michigan fan. We gave him a Michigan jersey to commemorate his final season and a terrific (MLB) career. I’m looking forward to having him around, looking forward to seeing him around the athletic offices and on campus — and hopefully getting him over to the baseball field as soon as possible.”

Jeter is the “captain” of Jordan-Jumpman-Nike’s baseball presence. He’s also recognized as one of the greatest infielders to ever play the game.

Yeah, this whole Nike thing might be pretty good for much, much more than just football.

Ask a runner about Nike, and he or she will tell you that it’s the preferred brand everywhere. Mason Ferlic, one of the most decorated runners in Michigan history, couldn’t be happier about the Wolverines’ pairing with Nike.

“I think it’s going to be just an awesome training experience, athletic experience — the Nike brand can throw their incredible weight behind the Michigan brand and that’s just going to elevate the presence of all sports, not just football and basketball,” said Ferlic, quickly noting that Nike began as a running brand in the early 1970s.

“The gear they make is phenomenal. They have some of the best product engineering and product design. They’re always on the leading edge… it’s just going to be fun, as an athlete, to wear that stuff.”

His reaction to the news?

“I shouldn’t have graduated — I should have enrolled a couple years later,” Ferlic jokingly said while standing next to a rack of Amarillo and blue at MDen.

Of course, the Jumpman logo goes hand-and-hand with hoops. When Michael Jordan is the symbol, that’s kind of unavoidable.

“As a basketball player, personally, I’m excited,” said Wolverines senior point guard Derrick Walton, Jr. “I’ve grown wearing Jordans… and just personally, getting a chance to meet Michael (Jordan) and all that stuff, to be a part of that stuff, is exciting.”

Walton, Jr. said that he’ll “love to wear (Jordan)” on the court.  He’s yet to see all of the gear, but he’s quite certain that the rest of the unseen apparel will be on-par with what’s already been made public. The brand speaks for itself. If it’s Jordan, Walton, Jr. approves.

With that said, he’d like to have one particular pair of shoes, if available, for game days.

“Space Jam 11s,” he said, smiling. “Maybe I’ll make a special request.”

Follow Adam Biggers of Today’s U on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

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