Every member of the Bears' traveling party received a special surprise Saturday before the team headed to Detroit for Sunday's season opener.
General manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy teamed up to give all players, coaches and staff members a pair of Air Jordan shoes.
"Our players are great," Nagy said. "They are why we do things like this because our culture is so important to us. They were surprised and excited. It was important to Ryan and I to include every single player, but also every coach and every staff member because we are a team and a family. All of us. We do this together."
More than 100 Air Jordan I, IV, XII and XIIIs were distributed. Among those who received a pair were Bears owner Virginia McCaskey, chairman George H. McCaskey and his wife, Barb, and CEO/president Ted Phillips.
Nagy is a big fan of Michael Jordan, who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships. The coach has shown Bears players clips of "The Last Dance," a compelling 10-hour documentary about Jordan and the Bulls that aired this spring to great fanfare.
"I'm a huge basketball fan, especially of MJ," Nagy said. "Just a ton of respect for him being the ultimate competitor and how important success was to him and the sacrifices he made to be the absolute best. I really enjoyed The Last Dance, as a fan and as a coach. Very motivational and applicable to our team and what we are trying to do, so we have shown many clips of the series to our team all offseason and a couple tonight in our team meeting as we prepare to face Detroit. I thought this was a fun way to carry that message through on our trip to Detroit."
Nagy felt it was appropriate to give away the Air Jordans on the Bears' trip to Detroit, given the rivalry between the Bulls and Detroit Pistons. The Bulls were eliminated from the playoffs by the Pistons for three straight years from 1988-90 before defeating Detroit in 1991 en route to winning their first NBA title.
"I thought this was a good tie into the Detroit trip because of the Bulls' battles versus the Pistons in the late '80s and early '90s," Nagy said. "Those games were nasty and the Bulls' win in the '91 playoffs was a testament to the work the Bulls put in, led by Michael, to get over that hump."
Throughout the offseason, Bears coaches used quotes and imagery from the Chicago Bulls documentary "The Last Dance" as motivation in team meetings. To kick off the first road trip of the season in style, head coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace surprised players, coaches and traveling staff with brand new pairs of Jordan shoes in team colors. See everyone rocking their fresh kicks as they depart to take on the Detroit Lions.