It’s hard to believe now but, at the time, Converse and adidas ruled the NBA courts and Nike hardly had a look-in – even Jordan himself personally wanted to sign to the three stripes but his parents persuaded him otherwise and a deal with the swoosh was done.
For MJ’s debut signature sneaker, Nike designer Peter Moore reworked the little-known Nike Air Ship high-top sneaker and dipped it in red and black, the signature colours of his new Chicago Bulls team. Sneaker legend has it that when Jordan stepped onto court for the first time wearing the 'bred' Air Jordan 1s matching his famous No 23 jersey, NBA commissioner David Stern decreed the shoes went against the league's colour code rules and slapped Nike with a $5,000 per game fine if the player continued to wear them.
True or not, the story of the NBA ban rewarded the new shoe with huge publicity (Nike even based a TV commercial on the tale), and when the Nike AJ1 sneaker was first released to the general public in 1985 the reaction was predictably frenzied.
Worn at the time by everyone from OG street skater The Gonz to Metallica and LL Cool J to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Jordan was one of the first sneakers to cross over from sports to music and the wider youth culture. Thirty years (and countless colourways) later, the Nike Air Jordan 1 is still one of the most badass kicks around and often spotted on a range of celebrity feet – from Jay-Z to
Jake Gyllenhaal. Styled with a pair of straight-fit dark jeans, or as part of a streetwear getup with a baggy tee and basketball shorts, this classic has always looked as good off the court as on.