If you asked “Fab Five” member Jimmy King about Sunday night’s Nike Welcome Rally in Ann Arbor, he would say the city was partying like it was 1989 — the last time the Michigan basketball team won a national championship.

As Michigan’s contract with Adidas expired and the Nike and Jordan Brand era began, hundreds of people filled the street in front of The M Den on State Street to celebrate the new-look Wolverines — with some eager fans showing up as early as 8:20 a.m.


Both current and former Wolverines alike attended and spoke at the Welcome Rally, including King, former Wolverine linebacker Lamarr Woodley and former Heisman winner Desmond Howard, all of whom were dubbed as “special guests.” Other speakers included members of the Michigan football such as head coach Jim Harbaugh, De’Veon Smith and Rashan Gary, and players from the basketball team like Derrick Walton Jr.

“I’m pretty sure Jordan’s gonna treat us right,” Walton said. “I like Jordan as a brand and it’s good for our school and will generate some more excitement. It shows the power of the Block M.

“There’s a lot of excitement around here and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

Much of the hype surrounding the Michigan football approaching the 2016 season was made very apparent, especially when Harbaugh took the stage, as definitive talk about winning a national championship came to light.

“I have lived 52 years, a lot of those years in Ann Arbor, and I have never seen anything like this,” Harbaugh said to the crowd. “This is what Ann Arbor will look like after we win a championship.”

Similar sentiments were shared by King, who also added:  “We look good. We feel good. We play good.”

Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel was also in attendance at the Welcome Rally. The event had been a long time coming for Manuel, who signed the deal with Nike — then the largest school apparel deal in the country — just three days into his tenure at Michigan.

“It’s really special to see all the fans here excited to take the next step in what we’re doing. I didn’t know what to expect (from the rally), but for Michigan, this is the way we do things.”

Aside from the high-caliber speakers, other aspects of the festivities included performances from the Michigan Marching Band and cheer team, a video introducing the transition to the crowd and free food for those patiently waiting for the store to open.

For the apparel itself, the power of the Nike “swoosh” made its presence known. The clothing line included a number of similar styles seen in the Adidas clothing, but with the different logo. The notable variations were seen in the shoes, which brandished the famous “Jumpman” logo, and a long-sleeve shirt designed by Harbaugh featuring the “Jumpman” logo and Block M.

And when the clock struck midnight and the doors of The M Den opened, it was finally official: Nike was back in Ann Arbor.


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