Though it has already been 12 years since his last game in the NBA and 17 since his last game in a Bull’s jersey, M.J. symbolically returned to Chicago this past Saturday with the grand opening of Chicago’s Jordan brand flagship store. While Michael’s name is absent from the façade of the building, visitors can recognize the site by its iconic Jumpman logo donning the exterior. The store is located at 32 S. State Street in the Loop.
Functioning simultaneously as a showroom and retail space, 32 S. State Street is a monument commemorating Michael’s contributions to the city of Chicago, the game of basketball, and pop culture. Since Michael’s arrival in the city immediately following the 1984 draft, he has brought home 6 NBA titles, cemented his legacy as the greatest baller of all time, and established himself as arguably the most recognizable face in the history of professional sports.
On Saturday morning, the line outside the entrance coiled around the block to Dearborn and Madison, affirming Michael’s legendary status. From those who clearly remember Chicago’s championship days to a new cohort of kids who had never seen Jordan play, multiple generations of fans patiently awaited the opportunity to pay homage to their hero.
The interior of the store is modern and industrial. Selections of inventory carefully curated by Jordan himself are presented on glass shelves in front of an exposed brick wall. The grey floor underneath the visitors’ feet features doodles relevant to both Chicago and Michael. On one side, the silhouettes of Jordan’s iconic sneakers are framed on the wall like family photographs. The second floor of the building houses Station 23, a high-tech training facility dedicated to elite high school athletes from the greater Chicago area, featuring a full-length basketball court alongside state-of-the-art strength and conditioning equipment. Just as the colossal mural of Michael’s perfect 1988 dunk covering the entire wall behind the row of cash registers suggests: here in Chicago, M.J. is larger than life itself.