Gentry Humphrey, vice president of Nike’s iconic Jordan Brand and one of the most respected names in the sneaker industry, will step down from his post on September 30, after almost thirty years with the Swoosh. Kris Wright, who is currently the VP of Nike Global Men’s Footwear Lifestyle Product and was recently appointed to the Board of Directors for LiveXLive, will replace Humphrey the following day. The news was allegedly revealed per an internal company email. However, neither Humphrey nor the Jordan Brand has made any formal announcement at the time of this article’s publication.
Humphrey first joined Nike in 1994 as a regional sales rep in California before relocating to Beaverton, OR, to work from the company’s headquarters in their basketball division as a product line sales manager. He briefly left in 2000 to join their rival Reebok, where he spearheaded their RBK brand for four years and developed the line’s partnerships with Jay-Z and 50 Cent.
After founding his own sneaker company in 2005, Jhung Yuro, Humphrey eventually returned to Nike and bounced around within the organization, working on pet projects for Nike Sportswear and Nike Golf as well as the Jordan Brand. He initially planned to leave the company in 2015 before Nike was able to convince him to stay, and Humphrey was rewarded with the position of VP of Footwear for the Jordan Brand three years later.
Humphrey made his bones by taking risks with different color schemes, using unorthodox sneaker materials for construction, and popularizing the Jordan Brand with younger generations through collabs and retro releases. Some of the sneakers for which he will be best remembered include the Air Jordan 6, the Air Jordan 11 “DMP” collection, and the UNDFTD x Air Jordan 4 venture.
Last year, Humphrey spoke with ESPN’s Nick DePaula to share the magic behind the success of Jordan Brand. “It starts with Michael [Jordan] himself,” said Humphrey. “So if you know anything about Michael Jordan, he is not like ‘the guy next door,’ [he’s] far from it. Whenever you have someone who’s not afraid of doing things different or breaking the conventional ways of doing things, that usually puts you in a place where you can kind of start trends or create the future.”
“You combine that with a fabulous designer like Tinker Hatfield,” Humphrey continued, “who also thinks in that similar zone of taking you to places that you didn’t think you could go… he’s the master of really pushing the limits and trying to move us into different spaces. And then myself, I just kind of have always been that guy that didn’t mind being different. Really, all of that together became the ‘secret sauce,’ and you know, I think one of the things I always used to tell people is [that] all of us having the ability to be comfortable with being uncomfortable at times was really what made us push the limits and strive to do things that people just weren’t used to seeing.”