When they first arrived on the shoe scene, Air Jordan shoes were hugely popular. In fact, so many people wanted these shoes; there were often riots and fighting over that would get the most popular shoe on the planet. No doubt, Michael Jordan never anticipated how popular the shoes would become, but each additional version of Jordan’s signature shoe line is as popular as the last.
Michael Jordan signed a deal with Nike in 1984 to endorse a particular brand of Nike basketball shoes – the Air Jordan. Besides Michael Jordan, other athletes to endorse the brand are Carmelo Anthony and Roy Jones, Jr. You might say Air Jordan were the shoes that built Nike because they had been struggling prior to Jordan signing the shoe deal. However, if it were not for Jordan’s manager, the deal may have never taken place. Jordan preferred the shoes made by Adidas and Converse.
The initial deal for the Air Jordan I shoes was $2.5 million, plus royalties and other benefits, for five years. As the first shoes (with a winged basketball logo and costing $65) rolled off the manufacturing line and into the stores, it was obvious the pairing was ‘gold.’ Even though the National Basketball Association (NBA) banned Jordan from wearing the black and red shoes, handing out $5000 per game fines, Nike paid the fines and kept Jordan’s feet shod with the shoes and the public clamoring to get them.
The Air Jordan log changed to the current logo, which features the Jumpman logo, after Jordan won the 1986-87 Slam Dunk competition. At the time, the retail price of the shoe rose ($100 a pair) and by the third year, Jordan wanted to void the contract. After Tinker Hatfield spoke face-to-face with Jordan and asked for his input into the shoe, Jordan decided to maintain his commitment and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Air Jordan III shoe was redesigned based upon Jordan’s suggestion to have it three-quarter cut. The materials were lighter than average, which made wearing them more comfortable. This change was wildly popular and the shoes few off the shelves.
Jordan and Hatfield continue to work on the designs for the Air Jordan until the XV version. By 1997, the Air Jordan brand became a sub-brand to Nike. In fact, you will not see the name Nike or the Nike logo – the Nike Swoosh – on the Air Jordan shoes.
The shoes have changed over the years, but each new shoe has met with the same fervor. The brand, as well as the shoe, has grown and prospered. Many wonder if the Nike brand would be as popular without the Air Jordan connection.
The latest Jordan shoe – the Air Jordan XXXI (31) — was released in 2016 and marked the 32nd year of the Nike and Michael Jordan partnership. They are much more than a shoe fashion item. They are engineered for performance. Ask anyone who has worn a pair of these shoes, and they will tell you they are proud to be part of the Air Jordan legacy, a part of history, even if only in a small way.