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Once Upon a Time NBA Banned Nike’s “Air Jordan”

by Aadarsh Jain

Once Upon a Time NBA Banned Nike’s “Air Jordan”

April 18, 2021

Only a few pairs of shoes or sneakers have made history. Nike's red and black Air Jordan 1, also known as the "banned" Jordan 1 or "Bred" Jordan 1, was one such sneakers. Michael Jordan turned that pair of shoes into one of the most famous pop culture icons. But do you know what made the "Red Black" Air Jordan so famous? Let's take a look.

One day, you might look up and see me playing the game at 50. Don't laugh. Never say never, because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.

- MICHAEL JORDAN

Why Were The Sneakers Banned?

The sneakers were banned because they violated the NBA’s 51st rule, which states that no player can wear shoes that interfere with the uniform code, and that players must wear white shoes or shoes that match the colour of their jerseys. The red-black colour of the shoes clashed with the team’s uniform, prompting the NBA to send Jordan and Nike an official letter requesting that the shoes to be removed from the game or else a fine would be imposed.

nba-letter-nike-scoolbuzz
The official letter of NBA to Nike and Michael Jordan.

Nike's Action And Reply To NBA

Jordan is said to have been fined $5000 for every game he played in 1985 while wearing the red-black AJ1. However, Nike refused the claims and has confirmed that the sneakers he wore in every game were not AJ1s, but a red-black version of Nike’s Air Ship (which Nike released a few weeks later in stores), which was designed to look like Air Jordans. Nike saw an opportunity and took advantage of the controversy by placing black bars and censor signs over the shoes in television commercials. Then Nike re-released the Air Jordan 1 “Banned” edition of the shoe.

With the continuing controversy, Michael Jordan rocked the season in 1985, and the “banned” AJ1’s were a smash hit. He wore the original AJ1s during the slam dunk, and his photograph in mid-flight during a basket became popular, selling the idea that the sneakers were special. After that, Nike began releasing a new Air Jordan edition every year, in addition to several reeditions and reissues.

Air Jordan 1 Now

A new pair of Air Jordan 1 costs more than $200, and old classic and rare editions will cost thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars. The Air Jordan II, the follow-up to the Air Jordan, featured a Jumpman logo, which has since become the logo for all Nike’s Jordan products. In reality, Michael Jordan had no intention of signing a contract with Nike. In college, he wore a Converse and he always wanted to sign a deal with Nike’s German rival Adidas.

Today, MJ is one of the highest-paid athletes in history, a one-of-a-kind athlete who earned a reputation for doing it his own way around the world.

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