Greatest Shoe to Ever Play the Game
Early in 1984, a young man coming out of the University of North Carolina named Michael Jordan was about to change more than just the game of basketball. Air Jordans or simply J’s, were first released for public consumption after Michael himself wore them as a rookie in 1985. The initial deal made between Nike and Jordan was worth $2.5 million, plus royalties and other benefits, for five years (Rovell). According to an ESPN article though, Nike wasn’t one of Jordan’s initial plans:
“All Michael Jordan wanted to wear was adidas in the NBA. Although he wore Converse at North Carolina, because his coach Dean Smith was getting paid about $10,000 a year to put the brand on his players, the German make was his dream. But adidas wasn’t making an offer and Jordan was disappointed.” (Rovell). “He also met with Converse. Converse had no chance though. At the time, the brand was beginning to lose its spot as the nation’s top producer of athletic shoes. Converse was slow to use leather, and although Nike was signing coaches for bigger dollars, Converse didn’t have the desperation it should have had in negotiations with Jordan.” (Rovell).
Before Air Jordans, all basketball shoes were plain white. This simple statement only begins to describe the sheer magnitude of the changes that were about to occur to the sport of basketball and to the athletic footwear industry once Michael Jordan entered the league. The original Air Jordan 1’s were made with bold black and red styling. The NBA commissioner David Stern banned the shoe from the league because their vibrant red and black color scheme didn’t match the shoes and jerseys his teammates were wearing. Jordan wore them anyway, racking up serious fines of up to $5,000 a game (Trex). A $5,000 fine sounds like pocket change in today’s NBA, but over an 82-game regular season it would add up to $410,000 in fines against Jordan’s salary of $630,000(Trex). Nike was more than happy to pay them...