Air Jordan I, From US Basketball Courts To The City Streets Around The World


They are the fruit of one of the most mythical unions: Nike and one of the world’s best basketball players, Michael Jordan. It was 35 years ago. On November 17th, 1984 the Chicago Bulls played, and all we can recall are the shoes MJ was wearing inside the Chicago Stadium. The love-story between Nike and MJ continued for years.

This legendary partnership might never have seen the light of day. During his high-school years, MJ was wearing Converse, before choosing Adidas during his university years in North Carolina. That’s where the kid from Brooklyn was noticed, John Paul « Sonny » Vaccarro’s instinct changed everything.

He was then working for Nike as a marketing advisor and was impressed by n°23’s performance. He fought to convince the firm to bet on this young rookie, that had all the potential to become a star. For that, another person played a crucial role: David Falk- who had a strong reputation. 

What he wanted was not only to have Jordan wear Nike, he wants to design a whole new line of clothes for the Jumpman, and of course, create a new pair of sneakers. The sneakers were designed by Peter Moore (Nike’s designer) and he created an ankle-high sneaker, known for its red and black colors. Moore also drew the logo, that is now timeless : wings surrounding a basketball with « Air Jordan » inscribed on top.

David Falak negotiated a sweet deal for young MJ : 2,5 million $ over a three year period,  and a percentage over each product sold. Deal.

Air « Banned »

What would a product be without good publicity? The NBA made the Air Jordan 1 famous. Back then, all the colors worn by the players had to be uniformized. Of course, wearing his Jordans, the young player shocked. So much that the NBA considered that the colors were too bright and didn’t respect the franchises’. MJ got many warnings, and fines. From that came the idea of an ad called « Banned ». This strategy used the ban to serve the shoes interest. The ad said: «  Thankfully, the NBA can’t forbid you to wear them ».

The Air Jordan 1 arrived in stores in 1985 and were very successful: over 100 million pairs were sold in one year. The shoe seduced many generations. It became iconic for basketball fans, hip-hop amateurs, sneakers fans, and fashionistas. It became a must for everyone’s outfits. The Air Jordan is the story of a successful marketing Dunk – just like MJ’s, the kind of success you couldn’t miss. Michael Jordan ruled on the court, but also in marketing. At 25, he managed to be a millionaire and have his name in the basketball hall of fame and on many people’s ankles !

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