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Hoop Story #036: Samantha Baker, Jordan Brand Global Communications Manager

Hoop Story #036: Samantha Baker, Jordan Brand Global Communications Manager

What made you fall in love with basketball? 

There is a beautiful coupling of art and science that lives at the center of basketball that propelled me to fall in love with the game. To me, athletes at their core are artists; whether they are powerfully displaying their God given talents on the court or are expressively painting their legacies beyond the hardwood. They are artists that stretch our imaginations of what the body can do, but also demonstrate how the game can be a catalyst for change.

Basketball brings people from all walks of life together and has the power to move people towards different behaviors, to join forces for a greater good. The game can be aspiring and inspiring. It can provide a brave space to dream and a safe space for all to authentically be themselves. Basketball also organically forms collectives, it forms teams, it forms connection. And that is what life is about – human connection. Whether that is connecting with others or tapping into our own connection to our trustiest selves and discovering the magic that lives within each of us as human beings.

Samantha Baker, Jordan Brand Global Communications Manager

What about the game excites you the most?

I’m excited to continue seeing a well-deserved, increasing spotlight placed on the women’s game and for these powerful athlete’s voices to be amplified, supported and respected. For their stories to be intentionally told and championed by all – from male athletes to corporate brands. I’m excited for young girls around the world to witness and be inspired by the past, current, and future trailblazers to dream, to follow their passions and to know that their stories and voices matter.

How does basketball intersect with your life outside the office? 

Although I do not physically touch a basketball every day, basketball culture is fully present in my life day in and day out – sneakers, music, art, fashion, etc.

My love for the game and the values of those who choose to play - fiercely competitive, defiant spirit, fearless of failure, curiosity – are all mindsets that I look to bring into my life outside the office as well.

Samantha Baker, Jordan Brand Global Communications Manager

How did you get started at Nike working on the Jordan brand? 

My journey with Jordan Brand began the summer of 2012 as an intern on the global marketing team. Previously, I had interned at a variety of organizations within the sports industry throughout college (Atlanta Hawks, Octagon Sports Agency, UGA Athletic Department) in addition to working towards an advertising degree from UGA’s Journalism school and a marketing degree from the business school. However, my internship with the Brand going into my senior year of college was truly the catalyst for unlocking the opportunity to move out to Oregon after graduation and begin my professional career working for the Brand. 

And although my career journey thus far has been a bit linear, I do always want to emphasize the fact that everyone has a unique path based upon who each of us are and our stories. That my path is exclusive to me and therefore cannot be replicated or viewed as a blueprint for others. To me, our stories about living as human beings are so much more powerful than our career journeys as human doings. Our stories are the magic that each of us hold within ourselves and how beautiful it is that we have the opportunity to own our story -  to write it, to rewrite it. That although we may be born into a family dynamic, a community, a certain situation, that does not mean the situation is in you. We are all living vessels of our stories, however we choose to write it. Everything we desire, everything we need to walk in our purpose is already within us, it is just up to us to unlock that potential and own it. Have faith in it. Believe in it.

I’ve learned throughout my journey, personally and professionally, that we are all masterpieces while being works in progress. And being a work in progress is okay, it’s beautiful. At the end of the day, our story is our best asset. Our unique thing that no one else can take from us. 

I know my resume will continue to be fluid throughout my life - but adding value, working my ass off and being a good human are core tenets that I will continue to ground myself in and bring to every table I sit at.

Samantha Baker, Jordan Brand Global Communications Manager

What has been your most memorable experience working for Jordan Brand?

Whew, there are so many memorable experiences and moments – both high and low – throughout the seven years I have served this Brand. The moment, however, that brings me joy, even to this day, was when we launched our Women’s apparel line in New York in January of 2020 during our first Jordan Women’s Collective event.

Yes, the products we were unveiling were beautifully designed, embodied a defiant but feminine spirit, but it was truly the space created and conversations that occurred in that moment that continues to fill my cup. We had made an intentional effort to bring women from all walks of life together– from league executives to stylists to digital entrepreneurs – that all embodied what the Brand is about to celebrate, affirm and enjoy one another. It was a moment where we broke bread, shed tears, and saw ourselves and one another as soulful, powerful women who are so much more than the titles on our business cards. 

Samantha Baker, Jordan Brand Global Communications Manager

What’s next for the Jordan brand? What are you looking forward to most?

I’m looking forward to occupying new spaces and driving fresh conversations. To spotlighting and celebrating the people and communities who have built and supported this Brand since its inception. To be intentional around supporting impactful individuals, especially women who are building their own tables in this male dominated industry. I’m looking forward to unlocking opportunities for others to create and propel their careers forward. And of course, do all that while having some fun and finding joy in the journey.

What stories around basketball have yet to be told?

There is so much opportunity to tap into the stories around athletes as human beings, not just human doings. Stories that see athletes more than performers the viewer can just turn on and off for entertainment. Mining athlete’s passions, where they find joy, what they hope their legacy to be - the stories that tap into the heart behind the hero, the heart behind the hard work.

Samantha Baker, Jordan Brand Global Communications Manager

What are the next big trends in basketball and the culture at large?

I believe the resurgence and mainstream interest around trading cards (and NFTs holistically) is a trend that will continue to rise. This movement around digital collectables is such a hot topic right now and I’m really curious to see how the communities that treasure these assets will continue evaluating these possessions, assigning monetary value to them, and displaying their collections in real life. I also believe that this trend will force brands, whether product or people brands, to look at content creation and mediums for storytelling differently which is super exciting.

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