Michael Jordan plays hardball in suing grocers

Basketball legend Michael Jordan might be making another court appearance -- this one of the legal variety -- if lawsuits he filed Monday against two grocery chains are not resolved.

Jordan, a former Chicago Bulls star, is going on the offensive against the Chicago area's Jewel and Dominick's markets, claiming they are using his name and iconic 23 uniform number to advertise without his consent, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Jordan is seeking at least $5 million for each ad, both of which congratulate the five-time NBA MVP on his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, the paper said. Jordan contends that both grocers committed flagrant trademark fouls.

The Dominick's ad features not only Jordan's name and number, but a photo of a steak and a $2 off coupon with the words, "You are a cut above," the Sun-Times said. Jordan has an additional beef because his branding empire already includes steakhouses named for him and an online steak-order venture.

Jewel is accused of violating Jordan's deal with Nike because in its ad it uses sneakers (including a No. 23 on the tongue) that are a "misleading copy of Air Jordan Basketball shoes," the suit is quoted in the article. Air Jordans became a pop culture mainstay because of their connection to the hoops great.

Both ads appeared in a Sports Illustrated special edition honoring Jordan, who is currently part-owner of the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats..

The papers were filed in Chicago's Cook County Circuit Court, saying that neither Jewel nor Dominick's "received Jordan's permission to use his identity or to imply his endorsement in connection with the goods and services offered," according to the article.

The supemarkets had yet to respond to the allegations. But the legal action speaks volumes about the vigor with which Jordan, 46, will defend his standing as one of our generation's top pitchmen. Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, Hanes, Wheaties, Gatorade and others have all enlisted him as a spokesman.
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