The history of the Jordan 1 is perhaps one of the most intriguing of any sneaker in existence today, with its start in life dating all the way back to the '80s.
In fact, to begin with, the world was almost never introduced to the Jordan 1 as it was rumoured Michael Jordan didn't want to sign with Nike in the first place, favouring some of the best Converse shoes available at the time instead.
However, Nike won MJ around and quickly set about creating one of the most iconic and best sneakers of all time, a point evidenced by the fact they're still being made to this day - check out the "Mauve" High as an example.
To understand the incredible success of the Jordan 1, we have to take a look at some of the defining moments in its history. From its meteoric rise to legendary status, the Jordan 1 is one of the best Air Jordans of all time. Let us explore the history of this iconic sneaker.
History of the Jordan 1
The Jordan 1 has a long, rich history dating all the way back to 1985, but where exactly did it all begin for one of the most iconic shoes ever made? Let's take a closer look...
The Jordan 1 owes its beginning in life to the Chicago Bulls who, during the 1984 NBA draft, selected the then-rookie Michael Jordan as their third overall pick for the season.
Alongside signing for the Bulls, Jordan also agreed to a deal with Nike which, despite the rumours of MJ preferring the Converse Chuck Taylors, gave way to MJ wearing Nike shoes on the court.
Interestingly, Jordan began his NBA career playing in a red and black pair of shoes known as the Nike Air Ships. Eventually, Nike used the Air Ships as a template for MJ's first signature sneaker - the Air Jordan 1.
The Jordan 1 was officially released in 1985 following the shoes appearing on MJ's feet during the 1985 All-Star Weekend Dunk Contest, and went on to take the remaining season and sneaker market by storm.
This is, in part, due to Peter Moore, the man behind some of the best Nike Dunks at the time, and his idea of what a basketball shoe should look like. The end result is timeless, evidenced by the fact that it still remains popular to this day.
The debut season
Jordan's debut season in his signature sneakers was nothing short of impressive, as was the way Nike marketed the Jordan 1 to fans.
According to Nike, one of the initial colourways, now known as the "Bred" or "Banned" 1s, violated the league's uniform policy, which required shoes to be predominantly white (at least 51% white). As a result, MJ supposedly faced fines each time he wore these sneakers on the court.
Nonetheless, Nike cleverly turned this narrative to their advantage, making it the centrepiece of their "Banned" commercial. This ingenious move contributed to the enduring popularity of one of the most sought-after and best Jordan 1 colourways ever released.
Performance-wise, His Airness and his Jordan 1s delivered on the court, arguably making the 1s some of the best basketball shoes around at the time.
MJ picked up three Rookie of the Month awards over the course of the 1984/85 season wearing a handful of different colourways, and ended up as the league's Rookie of the Year.
His follow-up season was not quite as successful though as a broken foot in the Bulls' third game saw Jordan miss the next 64 fixtures. However, his rookie year was enough to secure the Jordan 1's place in sneaker history.
However, one of the most iconic moments in MJ's career and in the history of the Jordan 1 came during an exhibition game for Nike on August 26, 1985, in Italy. During the match, Jordan scored a dunk which actually shattered the backboard of the hoop whilst wearing a pair of "Chicago" Jordan 1s.
Over the years, these sneakers have become some of the most highly sought-after shoes in existence. In fact, in August 2020, the shoes sold at auction for a reported $615,000.
Since then, we've seen Nike capatilise on the popularity of this moment by releasing an orange design dubbed the "Shattered Backboard" colourway in reference to the kit Jordan wore during the game.
Fast forward to today and it's clear to see the legacy the Jordan 1 left behind. The 1 kickstarted an entirely new brand of Nike shoes which, at the time of writing, is the longest signature sneaker line in history, with a total of 37 models and counting on the market.
You can now find countless new designs and adaptations on the market as well as Retro releases like, for example, the 2022 "Chicago" Jordan 1s, also known as the "Lost and Found" colourway. Moreover, the Jordan 1 has been the catalyst for several amazing sneaker collaborations over the years, including the popular Chris Paul x Jordan 1 Lows release.
High, Mid, and Low variations have all debuted over the course of the Jordan 1's long history, and you can even buy variations which have been adapted for golf. Check out our list of the best Jordan golf shoes if you're interested in a pair.
It's safe to safe the Jordan 1 has transcended the title of one of the best Jordans for basketball and has become an icon of sneaker culture that doesn't appear to be slowing down any time soon.