MJ takes step back from shoe brand

When the Jordan brand signed Charlotte Bobcats first-round pick Cody Zeller last week, it marked the fourth Bobcats player to be signed to the brand, a disproportionately high number considering Jordan itself has only 20 active NBA players on its roster.

But the league has put in place provisions to make sure proper league procedures are followed between the team's owner -- and the brand's namesake -- Michael Jordan and Bobcats players.

When Jordan became the owner of the team in 2010, walls were put up to make sure Nike was making its decisions for the Jordan brand on its own, a departure from its previous statements that suggested Jordan handpicked his endorsers.

"With Michael Jordan's ownership of the Bobcats, the Board of Governors recognized his Nike relationship and that the Jordan brand has deals with NBA players," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. "Certain restrictions were put in place to ensure compliance with our rules."

Jordan's business manager, Estee Portnoy, would not comment on the stipulations.

Zeller joins Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeffery Taylor and Bismack Biyombo as other Jordan endorsers who play for the Bobcats. There are more players on Jordan's team getting paid to wear Jordan gear than on any other team in the league.

The Jordan brand, which debuted as a separate division of Nike in 1997, sold more than 28 million pairs of shoes last year -- worth $2.5 billion at retail in the United States alone -- according to SportsOneSource, a sports market tracking firm.

To prevent teams from circumventing the cap, NBA players are not allowed to sign endorsement deals with companies that their owners own.