With the success of the docu-series “The last dance”, one of the most interesting and intricated stories has come back: the legendary Air Jordan 1.
We’ll try to tell the highlights of this rich-of-details history, becoming a multi-billion-dollar worldwide phenomenon.
Well, let’s start from the beginning:
In 1984 the Chicago Bulls selected Michael Jordan: although Jordan wasn’t top pick, the Bulls were still confident enough in his abilities to sign him to a seven-year, $6 million deal; the second most largest contract for a Rookie, after Ralph Sampson.
While contract negotiations were progressing with the Bulls, Nike was working on its own deal with Jordan for a pair of shoes intended for him. Here the story becomes incredibly confusing and disputed, but many say that David Falk negotiated the deal with Nike on his own.
The negotiation process was far from easy, as Falk was demanding a lot from whichever brand wanted to sign the young phenom. Jordan loved adidas and wanted to sign with the German giant, but the company was in a state of flux after founder Adi Dassler’s death in 1978 and let Jordan slip through its fingers.
Among the others involved were Nike designer Peter Moore, who came up with the Air Jordan 1 sneaker design and “Wings” logo (he also gave us the Nike Dunk).
Jordan had no interest in Nike and practically had to be dragged to the company’s presentation in Beaverton, Oregon.
But the Swoosh had the biggest and boldest plan to differentiate Jordan from the rest of the league’s stars. Jordan had preferred adidas because its shoes were lower to the ground than Nike’s. Now Nike was offering an all-new shoe tailored to his needs.
Nike’s original plan was for two primary Air Jordan colorways: a white/black/red colorway (now known as the “Black Toe”) for home games and black/red for road games (now commonly referred to as the “Bred”).
Nike adapted with an alternate colorway that met NBA regulations. This model is now referred to as the “Chicago” colorway. With all of this going on behind the scenes, Jordan took to the court in the Air Jordan 1 for the first time on November 17, 1984, against the Philadelphia 76ers. He continued to flip between the Air Ships and Air Jordan 1s for the rest of the season.
Jordan took a chance and wore the black/red Air Jordan 1 during the All-Star Weekend’s Slam Dunk Contest in February 1985. As the contest wasn’t an official NBA game, Jordan got away with it.
But after seeing the shoes, the NBA commissioner’s office sent another letter on February 25, 1985, reminding Nike that Jordan couldn’t wear the black / red colorway, because “It didn’t have any white in it.”: the only NBA shoes allowed, in fact, was only white.
Nike went on to mythologize these “banned” letters, generating hype for Air Jordan and even making an ad about the affair (yet failing to mention it was an Air Ship that had set things off).
The “banned” controversy gave Nike’s marketing team space to push the shoes as an act of rebellion, and sales went through the roof.
Jordan continued to wear the Air Jordan 1 in the 1985-86 season, but broke his foot three games into the campaign and missed 64 games. When Jordan returned in March of that season, Nike fitted him out with an unreleased Air Jordan 1 with ankle support straps.
At least 23 different OG Air Jordan 1 models and colorways were released, but there is no way to confirm exactly how many came out.
Registration closes on Monday, 11th of May at 12:00 PM.
We want to honor this compelling history with three AIR JORDAN 1 DROPS: