Jordan Brand Experience

“Like Mike” Invitational

Navy Pier


About The “Be Like Mike” Campaign

In the Fall of 2017 Jordan Brand and Gatorade teamed up to honor the 25th Anniversary of the “Be Like Mike” Gatorade campaign with a limited edition shoe and apparel release.  The “Like Mike” Invitational basketball tournament took place at historic Navy Pier in Chicago, and celebrated the launch of the Jordan and Gatorade collaboration.  The tournament featured some of the nation’s top high school prep talent.  Each team invited was outfitted with Jordan Brand uniforms and shoes that drew inspiration from Michael Jordan’s career and Gatorade’s flavor offerings.

The Challenge

Create a one-of-kind brand experience that pays homage to Michael Jordan’s basketball and marketing legacy.  There was a lofty vision to convert a highly recognizable Chicago landmark and classic venue’s ballroom in to a “ball” room.  The thought being that doing so would accentuate the basketball experience, moreso than hosting the tournament in a gymnasium.  According to our research, the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier had in fact hosted full court basketball before.  However, this harkens back to the post-World War II era, when from 1946 to 1948 Navy Pier was home to the University of Illinois at Chicago campus.  So, almost 70 years later SPL and a veritable creative all-star team would set out to transform an empty ballroom into an 21st centrury NBA-style arena, and bring hoops back to the pier.

Our Solution

As this event would feature some of the nation’s top basketball talent, so too did it feature some of the foremost creatives in event production and brand design.  SPL ran with our clients and all the creatives to take the ideas and theoretical designs from concept to finalized plans and CAD documents.  We factored in each vendor’s physical footprint in our floor plans and elevations that were drawn at scale.  Then when it was game time we excuted the designs and game plans like the triangle offense, managing the logistics of each vendor’s load in and build out.  SPL provided the sound, video, and lighting that presented possible glimpses into the future for these NBA prospects.  The players, their families and fans, and fans of the Jordan Brand experienced NBA-caliber pre-shows, introductions, half-time performances, and retail spaces.

The Results

The “Like Mike” Invitational was a slam dunk.  Not in that it was easy, or a no-brainer, as it took the collective imagination, inspiration, and persperation of a team of hundreds.  A dream team of sorts, assembled to realize a vision of a basketball tournament as an immersive marketing experience.  Above all, the “Like Mike” Invitational was more like Mike’s iconic free-throw line dunk.  In other words, it was a highly stylized, and extraordinary artistic and athletic showcase of talent worthy of the Jordan name.


  • Project Management
  • System Design
  • Complete Event Production
  • Logistic Support

Design and photography credits, and special thanks to these creatives:


Our Event Technology Partners

Lighting Fixtures

Square Feet of LED Wall

Feet of Cable

Time-Lapse Images: From Setup Through Tip Off

Sometimes we dream…

Then we get our motors going to raise up and elevate…

We lay down the gound work…

Our work is our foundation for flight…

We put in the work and now we’re ready to shine…

We want to “Be Like Mike” and now it’s game time!

The Design Process

Historical Perspective

Basketball game at Chicago’s Navy Pier in the Grand Ballroom in February 1948.  Photo by Thomas Fehr.

Basketball game at Chicago’s Navy Pier in the Grand Ballroom in November 2017.  Photo by Larryl Pitts.

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