CHICAGO (CBS) — Hall of Famer Michael Jordan was trading a basketball court for a federal court on Tuesday, crying foul over a grocery store’s use of his image in a magazine ad.
The six-time NBA champion arrived at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse on Tuesday, prepared to take the stand in a lawsuit he filed against the now-defunct Dominick’s chain, alleging they illegally used his identity in an advertisement for its steaks in 2009.
The ad was in a Sports Illustrated commemorative edition marking Michael Jordan’s entry in the Hall of Fame. It read, “Congratulations Michael Jordan” and under that, a large 23 – Jordan’s number. Under that – it said, “You are a cut above,” followed by a Dominick’s coupon for $2 off a Rancher’s Reserve cut of steak.
Jordan did not give Dominick’s permission to use his name or image for the ad.
A federal judge already has ruled Dominick’s is liable for damages, the only question remaining is how much?
Jordan has asked for more than $5 million.
The six-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player walked through the front doors of the courthouse Tuesday morning, feeling confident.
“I feel good,” he told reporters as he walked into the building.
The trial is expected to last at least through this week. On Tuesday, the jury was selected and opening statements are expected Wednesday.
CBS 2’s Irv Miller says Jordan’s stardom will be a factor for the jurors.
“Michael Jordan is a legend in this town,” Miller said. “This is Chicago. Everybody in Chicago knows him, everybody is going to be star-struck by him and the defense as a hurdle to go over to get a fair jury.”
His attorney, Frederick Sperling, said the case is about protecting Jordan’s right to control who uses his identity.