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The Shoe That Started It All

Michael Jordan’s impact on the game of basketball is immeasurable, but his impact on the sneaker culture may be even greater. Jordan shoes are still among the most highly coveted shoes 30 years after they first burst onto the scene.

It is almost unthinkable today, but the successful partnership between Michael Jordan and Nike almost never happened. Originally, MJ wanted to work with adidas before Nike’s offer persuaded him to team up with The Swoosh.

It clearly worked out for both MJ and Nike. The duo made an immediate splash with the Air Jordan 1. The iconic shoe became one of the most famous shoes in sneaker history and flipped the script on the entire industry. The black-and-red shoe defiantly went against the league’s shoe policy because it didn’t feature the required white color. Jordan faced a $5,000 fine every game that he wore the shoe, but he continued to wear them over and over again.

That historic shoe sent a ripple effect through the industry. Today, the Air Jordan 1 ‘Banned’ colorway is incredibly popular and at the top of many sneakerheads’ wish list. Any of the Air Jordan 1 OG colorways are big-time releases nowadays, but the original Air Jordan 1s weren’t popular with consumers. At $65, they were the most expensive shoe on the market and they often ended up on clearance racks. These days, OG colorways can often sell out in a matter of minutes while commanding top dollar.

In addition to the ‘Banned’ colorway, the ‘Chicago,’ ‘Royal,’ ‘Black Toe,’ and ‘Shattered Backboard’ colorways are almost always in high demand. In 1985, the AJ 1s were considered top-of-the-line basketball shoes. While on-court technology has taken today’s basketball shoes to a whole new level, the clean Air Jordan 1 silhouette has never gone out of style, making it one of the hottest casual kicks to this very day.

On the court, Michael Jordan had one of the best rookie seasons of all time in the Air Jordan 1. His Airness averaged over 28 points per game while taking home Rookie of the Year honors and All-Star accolades.

Perhaps even more importantly, the Air Jordan 1 was the shoe that started it all. It was the beginning of what would eventually become an entire spin-off brand. It kick-started an obsession with shoes that the sneakerhead community still has today.

Michael Jordan is a legend on the court. He’s the best player of all time. And somehow his impact on the world of sneakers might be even more impressive than his stacked on-court résumé. Basketball would still be around if Michael Jordan never played. The sneaker culture that we’ve come to know and love today likely would not.

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