This past December, UCLA Athletic Director Martin Jarmond unveiled the university’s new partnership with Nike and the Jordan Brand. This news broke just a few months after Under Armour terminated its contract with UCLA and is representative of the bright athletic future that UCLA athletics is on the cusp of. 

First, let’s talk about the details of the Nike x UCLA partnership. This six-year deal will have Jordan’s legendary Jumpman brand outfitting the Men and Women’s basketball programs as well as the Men’s Football team. Additionally, Nike, the parent company of Jordan, will outfit UCLA’s 22 other varsity sports uniforms, apparel, equipment, and footwear. 

As a UCLA fan or student, however, you will have to remain patient. UCLA x Jordan merchandise will not be available until Fall 2021 but it will be worth the wait. UCLA is officially the only Pac-12 conference team to wear the brand and is one of only five schools in the nation to represent Jordan in three sports. Furthermore, this partnership includes student-athlete development programs, two summer internships each year for UCLA students, and an annual educational experience at Nike headquarters, demonstrating its value amongst the entire Bruin community.

This exclusive partnership would not have been possible without the support of two legendary UCLA basketball alumni, Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook. Both NBA stars helped Jarmond understand the significance of a brand like Jordan and the contributions it would make to his athletic program.

[Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook] helped me understand in ways that I wasn’t fully aware, how young people feel about Nike and Jordan Brand as opposed to other companies,” Jarmond said in a public statement. “UCLA is elite, and our student-athletes deserve every resource in their pursuit of excellence. We sought to partner with the best in the world; that is Nike and Jordan Brand. Going into this process, our top priority was to secure the best quality and most innovative product to help our student-athletes and coaches compete for championships.”

Craig Williams, the Jordan brand president, was excited to partner with UCLA due to the university’s significance in athletics as well as the greater Los Angeles community. He also identified UCLA’s determined mindset in Jarmond’s reimagined athletic program.

“Like Nike and Jordan Brand, the Bruins have a championship mind-set and their impact is felt both in sport and within the community,” Williams said in a public statement. “We are beyond excited to welcome UCLA into the family and are looking forward to partnering with some of the best athletes in the world.”

Clearly, UCLA athletics are headed in the right direction. Since Jarmond was appointed Athletic Director, the university has found athletic success. The UCLA women’s basketball team is ranked 6th in the nation, the men’s basketball team is ranked 24th in the nation on its way to UCLA’s best Pac-12 opening in 27 years, and the football team showed glimpses of great potential and is determined to have a strong 2021 campaign. Luckily, the Jordan deal should help further this development throughout the athletic department because of the partnership’s influence on the recruitment process.

“We are thrilled to join the Jordan Brand family,” Women’s Head Basketball Coach Cori Close said in a public statement. “This is a huge difference-maker in the recruiting world. The Jordan brand is elite and that is the standard at UCLA. This partnership will enhance our efforts to create champions that are difference makers in their sport, as well as beyond. This is an elite win for UCLA Athletics.”

As UCLA continues its impressive 2020-2021 athletic campaign, the athletes look forward to doing so in style next fall. High school senior and UCLA Men’s basketball commit Peyton Watson is excited to see what the team can accomplish in their updated look.

“I know it’s going to be big for recruits,” Watson said. “With the Jordan Brand, it goes with how prestigious the school is. I can’t wait to get there. For a lot of athletes, we have the same mindset: look good, feel good, play well. It instills confidence in the play when we are wearing nice apparel.”

Jarmond is grateful and excited to see how this exclusive partnership will usher in this fiercely competitive and determined wave of UCLA sports.

I want to thank Chancellor Block for his leadership and support in establishing a relationship that will make the entire Bruin community proud,” Jarmond said. As we build upon our rich history and strive for greater heights, this transformative collaboration is a signal of the future.”

John Peterson certainly knows his way around a basketball court. Having coached five different teams throughout his career, he has developed a deep connection and love for the game of basketball and the art of coaching. But how did Peterson become a 2000 NCAA Division 2 Champion and a 2015 Inductee to the California Community College Men’s Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame? If you ask him, the answer is quite simple. 

After graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a B.A. in Law and Society, Peterson attended the University of San Francisco in order to obtain his M.A. in Sport and Fitness Management. It was there, as a 21-year-old graduate student, that Peterson received his first coaching job. For five years Peterson served as an Assistant Coach and held responsible for recruiting, training, player development, and travel.

Peterson’s first season was certainly a learning experience. After suffering the largest losing margin of his career, a staggering 74 points, his team finished the season at a record of 1-26. He knew that his team could only go up from there and that the answer to their struggles was hard work. When Peterson spoke to the Bruin Sports Business Association (BSBA) he consistently preached the value of working hard.

“I am not one of those slogan guys,” Peterson said. “I don’t have a mantra. I am not going to put three words on the back of a t-shirt and make that my identity. I just show up and work until we have worked enough. We prepare for our game, we play the other team, and then we go back to the gym and work. When we win I will be happy for 20 minutes but then it is back to work. At the end of the day, you have to perform, compete, and keep your mindframe right.” 

Peterson relocated to the Metropolitan State University of Denver after four more seasons with the University of San Francisco. It was in Denver that Peterson found more coaching success. With a three year record of 86-15, Peterson’s team was inducted into the Metro State Hall of Fame in 2010. Additionally, during his three years as the Assistant Coach, the team was the 1999 NCAA Division 2 National Runner Up and 2000 NCAA Division 2 National Champions. 

Through hard work, Peterson was now a champion. However, hard work isn’t the only trait Peterson wants in a player. He also believes that you must find that motivation from within and be willing to sacrifice your humility to do whatever it takes to win.

I love people with heart,” Peterson said. “You have a responsibility to compete and improve yourself. I want [to be surrounded by] people who are trying to improve themselves.  Those are the types of people I loved coaching. It is really hard to make it in anything if you aren’t willing to do things that you don’t want to do. It’s part of the grind. I came in and cleaned the bathrooms and I scraped the gum off the floor. I wanted my staff to see me on my knees cleaning the bathrooms. The more that nothing is beneath you, the farther that you’re going to end up going.” 

After becoming a national champion in 2000, Peterson took his coaching talents to Ohlone College and was named Head Coach. Over the next 14 years, Peterson filled the record books. He became the all-time leader in wins (300), win percentage (71%), conference titles (5), winning seasons (14), most wins in a season (28), and 20-win seasons (11). Another accomplishment of Peterson’s was that he was able to help 93 of his players, many of which felt like sons to him, move on to the four-year level. 

Eventually, in 2014, Peterson became the Associate Coach of the Division 1 basketball team Loyola Marymount University (LMU). But after two years of coaching, Peterson found himself at a crossroads. He was considering leaving collegiate coaching in order to become the California Regional Manager of a company, Shoot 360. Ultimately, the decision came down to one thing. 

I was either going to rent my life or own my life,” Peterson said. “At the beginning of my coaching career, I was renting my life. Then I kind of owned my life at the junior college level, but I was still having to teach my classes. At LMU I definitely didn’t own my life. I made the decision that if I want to be financially successful, this is it. So I went for it. And if I fail I fail, but I would never have known if I never tried it. It is totally out of my comfort zone but I love every minute of it. I like chaos and disorder in my life. I am figuring this thing out on the fly and dealing with things that I have never dealt with in my life. And it really is all about the journey, it’s awesome.”

Shoot 360 is reimagining the future of basketball development through the use of interactive technology that trains and tracks athletes on their shooting, ball handling, and more. Since discovering Shoot 360, Peterson founded and serves as the CEO of California Basketball Group LLC which owns, operates, and manages Shoot 360 franchises. Peterson and the team have lofty goals of adding Shoot 360 locations nationwide and expanding into more college basketball training facilities.

Peterson doesn’t attribute his own success to himself. Instead, he wants all young adults, no matter their future career aspirations, to understand the importance of the people around you. Essentially, it can make or break who or what you become.

“You are only as good as the people who are around you,” Peterson said. “I had really good players and really good assistant coaches. The thing that matters most is who is in your locker room. If anyone, CEO, coach, whoever tells you that it’s all about them, that’s not true; it’s all about the people around them.”

Peterson urges all young adults to make the most of their connections and start building sincere relationships as soon as possible. Your network is fundamental to your success is the one takeaway that Peterson wants people to cement into their minds. 

“You always need everyone you can get,” Peterson said. “And even if you don’t need those people, you can at least help them. Be a connector of people. Always pay it forward. Don’t have the mentality that you always need someone to do something for you. Be generous and your life becomes a lot simpler. It’s a healthy way to live [because it’s] better to have a network that’s an inch wide and a mile deep than it is to have one that’s a mile wide and only an inch deep.” 

Let’s rewind for a few months. Back in August, the Milwaukee Bucks decided to protest Game 5 of their playoff series against the Orlando Magic. The player-driven decision occurred in the wake of Jacob Blake, a black man, being gunned down from behind by Kenosha police. The protests occurred after months of inaction regarding police brutality, centered around the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Players wore messages from “Love” and “Say her name” to “Vote” on their jerseys, knelt before the national anthem, and supported voting initiatives across the country. The NBA opened up more than half of their arenas to serve as registration-drive sites or polling locations on election day in an attempt to combat targeted voter suppression. Both the NBA and their athletes took initiative to bring the issues of racial injustice and police brutality into the national spotlight, but months of protest continued. Despite vocal support by prominent athletes ranging from Donovan Mitchell to LeBron James and Black Lives Matter focused-politicians winning elections, progress in the fight against systemic racism seemed stuck in the mud. The disappointment in policy changes, or lack thereof, culminated with no charges being pressed against the police officer who shot Jacob Blake a day before domestic terrorists laid siege upon the US capitol.


Now, you may be wondering why we are tackling this topic as a Sports Business organization. The fact is that we are living in an era where sports and politics no longer go their own, separate paths. Rather, athletes have valiantly forced their way into the political conversation. No, Laura Ingraham, LeBron James will not just “shut up and dribble.” It’s not uncommon for athletes or coaches to enter the sphere of public service after their retirement. Just look at Congressmen and former NFL players Burgess Owens (R, UT) and Collin Allred (D, TX) or senator Tommy Tuberville (R, AL), but athletes stepping up and speaking out on social justice issues presents a new phenomenon.


In the Black Lives Matter protests that swept across the country throughout the summer, professional athletes marched. Celtics star Jaylen Brown protested in Atlanta saying “First and foremost, I’m a black man and I’m a member of this community … We’re raising awareness for some of the injustices that we’ve been seeing.” Malcolm Brogdon of the Indiana Pacers joined in. Tobias Harris, Jordan Clarkson, and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball participated in protests across the country. Greg Popovich spoke out against Donald Trump’s failure to acknowledge BLM’s validity. The Washington Wizards put out a statement saying “We will no longer tolerate the assassination of people of color in this country. We will no longer accept the abuse of power from law enforcement.” In the WNBA, the Atlanta Dream openly campaigned for newly elected senator Raphael Warnock, who ran against Dream owner and BLM critic Kelly Loeffler. These are only a few examples of many, but over and over again, athletes portrayed the same message: First and foremost, we are black, and then we are athletes.


In essence, athletes should be viewed like anyone else; human beings who deserve to have their voices heard. Too often we dehumanize athletes, getting caught up in their superhuman feats of athleticism and skill while pitting their fortune and influence against them. Why does their profession disqualify them from feeling emotions that anyone else could? When lawyers, doctors, or business-people attend to their community they are applauded for who they are as individuals, but suddenly when it comes to athletes we see them only as a single entity? If you are bothered when athletes choose to speak on politics because “they’re not experts”, then you should apply this same logic to yourself before you voice your opinion on sports. This double standard should not exist, as political engagement is open to anyone in this country and athletes should be afforded the opportunity to use their platform however they choose.

“In essence, athletes should be viewed like anyone else; human beings who deserve to have their voices heard. “

After the insurrection on January 6th, Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers tweeted “I will say it, because I don’t think a lot of people want to. Can you imagine today, if those were all black people storming the Capitol, and what would have happened? That, to me, is a picture that’s worth a thousand words for all of us to see.” Many more statements of disbelief by other athletes followed.


At the George Floyd protests across the country approximately 14,000 people were arrested per the Washington Post. Tear gas and rubber bullets pelted protestors. A teenager murdered two protestors and was hailed as a hero by the far right. This is not to say that some of these arrests weren’t justified, but the double standard could not be more clear.


These domestic terrorists seemingly strolled into the capitol, while the national guard tear-gassed peaceful protestors for a presidential church photo-op. Videos surfaced of Capitol police opening gates for insurrectionists and grinning for selfies with the “protestors.” Supposedly, a police officer even gave the trespassers directions on how to get to Senator Chuck Schumer’s office. At the end of the day, police had arrested 13 people. What a slap in the face to any athletes demanding racial justice action. Now, let us, as Doc Rivers said, take a minute to imagine the sequence of events had this been a BLM protest. If we do this, the outrage of athletes should come as no surprise.


Donald Trump wouldn’t have hesitated to send the National Guard to quell the riot. Capitol police wouldn’t have gingerly accompanied fragile criminals down the stairs. The violent, disrespectful mob wouldn’t have ambled past police on the marble steps of the capitol after defacing the “House of the People.” These are all certainties. Five deaths are five deaths too many, but whoever thinks that a BLM protest would have been treated the same needs to take a long hard look in the mirror.


The obvious contrast between the severity of the law enforcement response shows just how much work still has to be done to address systemic racism. It is hard to imagine how discouraged, frustrated and heartbroken professional athletes must feel, after dedicating their time, effort, and heart to a more equitable society just to watch the confederate flag parade through the Capitol Rotunda. Not only does this attack on democracy shows the racism embedded in thousands of Americans, but it illustrates the precise reason for athletes’ activism. The horrifying message that they are trying to combat, namely that it is safe for a mob of white men to raid the offices of public servants whereas it is deadly for a black man to turn his back on the police. Surely, this attempted revolution will mark history books forever and act as a warning sign for future generations. Hopefully, this catastrophic security failure will spur more athletes to speak out and use their platform, growing the movement and its followers. And, ideally, this despicable violence will heighten the attention paid to athletes and their causes.

“It is hard to imagine how discouraged, frustrated and heartbroken professional athletes must feel, after dedicating their time, effort, and heart to a more equitable society just to watch the confederate flag parade through the Capitol Rotunda. Not only does this attack on democracy shows the racism embedded in thousands of Americans, but it illustrates the precise reason for athletes’ activism. “

As appalling as the actions on January 6th were, if they show anything, they show the double standard in America. They show why athletes have stepped up and fulfilled their roles as translators, ambassadors, and liaisons between their communities and their fans. And, they embody the reason why LeBron James will not just “shut up and dribble.”