Larry Miller
Jordan Brand Advisory Board
Chairman

Biography

Larry Miller had a great idea. Back in the mid-90s, when he was the general manager of apparel for Nike, he wanted to expand an apparel line around Michael Jordan. Specifically, he wanted to create what we now know as the Jordan Brand. The first challenge? Selling the greatest basketball player of all-time on the idea. “I walked into the hotel suite in Seattle, when the Chicago Bulls were playing there, and there were about 20 people in the room—and then there was Michael Jordan,” Miller recalls. “M.J. greeted me like we already knew each other, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is really Michael Jordan.’ I was just observing while they were showing Michael a new shoe, and I was thinking it would be better if the tongue were black. But I was a new guy, so I didn’t say anything. Then Michael said, ‘Can we make the tongue black?’ We had the same idea!” “Eventually,” Miller continues, “I shared my idea with Michael. He said, ‘Hey, if you can pull this off, I’m 100% in.’ That was the beginning of my relationship with Michael Jordan.” Miller’s own story began in West Philadelphia. His uncle wanted him to become a lawyer, but instead Miller chose to study at Temple University’s School of Business and Management (now the Fox School). “I took two accounting classes and fell in love with it,” he says about his chosen major. “It was the idea of balance, which is something I’ve thought a lot about in my life. Accounting was a perfect fit for me.” Miller, who graduated from Temple in 1982, recalls how there were many professional development events hosted by the school where companies came to interview students. He was skeptical of his interview abilities, so he hatched a plan: He signed up for meetings with four companies for which he did not want to work in order to practice his interviewing chops. “I took these learnings to interviews with companies where I actually wanted to work, and I was far more confident,” he says. “It was the big eight accounting firms at that point and I was offered jobs by seven.” One of the ways Miller gives back to Temple and the Fox School has been through the establishment of the Tamara J. Gilmore Endowed Scholarship Fund. Created in honor of his late niece, also a Temple alum, the scholarship helps women students at the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management, with an emphasis on those pursuing careers in hospitality and event management. Miller, after graduation, took a job with Campbell Soup Company. He worked in corporate accounting and other roles over the next five years, during which time he also earned an MBA from La Salle University. Then, after brief stints at Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc. and Kraft Foods, Miller moved to Portland to work with Jantzen, Inc., the swimwear brand. It was his first dive into the sports clothing industry, and he eventually became the company’s president. Miller considers his greatest achievement with Jantzen orchestrating a partnership with Nike, namely a licensing deal allowing the Nike logo to be attached to a competitive swimwear line. This led to a position with Nike where, in 1998, following his successful hotel suite pitch to Michael Jordan, he helped expand the Jordan Brand. Eventually, he became the brand’s president. “In our lifetime, there are few people who elevate to the level of global icon,” explains Miller. “Michael Jordan is one of them. The stars aligned for us to be able to create the brand: Michael was the right player, Nike was the right company, and it all came together. I was so happy to be part of it. After a 10-year run at Nike, Miller left to become president of the Portland Trail Blazers. Unlike most team presidents, Miller says he had a hand in both the basketball and business sides of the organization. During his time there, the NBA team’s performance improved, the number of sold-out games increased, and the Trail Blazer’s home arena became the first in the world to earn LEED Gold Certification. But after five years, Miller returned to his role as president of Nike’s Jordan Brand. “It felt right to me,” he says about his Jordan homecoming. “Since we started the brand, it’s been a part of me. It was something I helped give birth to, so it made sense to go back. We recently opened a Jordan store in Paris. A decade ago, we were still thinking about how we could make this all happen, but now it’s a $3 billion business and we have stores around the world.” “But from a business perspective,” he continues, “and this applies to life as well, the thing that’s always excited me is collaborating with a team and developing ideas, strategies, and plans, and then seeing them come to fruition. That’s the biggest joy for me. That’s the payoff.”

Temple University Degree
Bachelor of Business Administration ’82, Fox School of Business

Temple University Awards & Affiliatons
Executive in Residence, STHM, 2017