Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is best known for his years playing in the NBA on the Chicago Bulls. Reuters

Former NBA star Michael Jordan filed a lawsuit against a Chinese sportswear company, claiming the brand was built off of unauthorized use of his name.

I've always thought my name means everything to me, and it's something that I own, Jordan said in a statement Thursday. When someone takes advantage of or misrepresents that, I think it's left up to me to protect that.

Jordan has been known as Qiaodian in China since his popularity spread in the mid-1980s. That, however, also happens to be the name of the company, Qiaodan Sports Co., of Fujian Province. The company is accused of using Jordan's Chinese name and his Chicago Bulls jersey number 23 without permission.

Qiaodan is a trademark registered under the Chinese law by our company and the legitimate use of the trademark is protected, Qiaodan told Reuters. The company is preparing to raise $168 million in a Shanghai listing, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Jordan, who now owns the Charlotte Bobcats, hasn't specified what compensation, if any, he is seeking from Qiaodian. This complaint is not about money, he said. It's about principle and protecting my name.

Basketball has become increasingly popular in China, in large part due to Chinese athletes like Yao Ming, who played for the Houston Rockets from 2002-2011. The recent fervor surrounding New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin, a Chinese-American whose parents immigrated from Taiwan, has also raised the profile of the NBA and contributed to the sports growing popularity in China.

Watch video Jordan's statement below: