Air Jordan I: The Early Days Of A Legend
The year was 1984, and Michael Jordan was the number 3 draft pick for the Chicago Bulls. He had already made a huge impact on college basketball, but the NBA really had no idea of what this young man from Brooklyn was going to bring.
What’s hard to believe is that despite being a rookie, Nike teamed up with Michael to design a pair of sneakers specifically for his style of play.
Unbelievable fast moves, hard to believe hang-time and an amazing ability to score points from situations that just made opponents stand in disbelief.
MJ was wearing the prototypes (called Nike Air Ships) for about 6 months, and during that time there were some adjustments made, but it didn’t look like anything major.
But before they were released to the public, a huge marketing opportunity developed.
The Story Of The Ban
At the time, the NBA had rules about what players could wear. For one, the sneakers had to match the team colours, and the colours had to be uniform across the team.
With pretty much all shoes predominantly white, this meant that the almost completely red and black AJ 1s were not allowed.
It’s a bit of a stretch to say they were banned, but Michael was reportedly fined $5,000 every time he wore them in an official game. Nike apparently picked up the bill and took full advantage of this move.
The advertising leading up to the public release took full advantage of what the NBA officials were up to. And it basically came across like the shoes had been banned because they gave an unfair playing advantage.
Of course, every kid on every court heard about this and had to own a pair immediately.
MJs 1984 Season Highlights
His achievements for a rookie were outstanding and Michael was declared NBA Rookie of the year and also pulled onto the All-Star team as a starter.
But it’s his stats that are most impressive. He started in all 82 games the Bulls played and had a points per game average of 28.2. Add to that 5.9 assists per game, and he was directly involved in a huge amount of points.
Commentators and fans were utterly gob-smacked by what he was doing on the court. He had already gained some fame in his college career for jump shots that seemed to defy the laws of physics.
And his aggressive drive really came out in a game against the Pistons where he scored 49 points. This was a Bulls club record for a rookie in a single game. And it was just the first of many records he would break.
AJ 1s In Hip-Hop Culture
At this stage, they had not achieved any counter-culture following, and the hip-hop world was still quite focused on other old school sneakers.
The Air Max had also not yet been released, but the AJ I was featured on the cover of LL Cool J’s first album called Radio. It was a stepping stone, and in just a few years, the sneakers appeared on more and more album covers and videos.
If you want to own your own pair of these then check out the latest deals for retros being released. They look just as amazing today and they are a sick old-school culture statement.