It’s as simple as that: the sneakerverse wouldn’t be what it is today without Michael Jordan and his Air Jordan line. In the mid-’80s, His Airness signed the deal of a lifetime, and ever since, we’ve all been mesmerized by the Nike-produced, Jumpman-adorned basketball silhouettes that emerged from this storied partnership.
There’s the high-top shoe that started it all, the Air Jordan 1; the streetwear must-have, the Air Jordan 4; the model if you know you know, the Air Jordan 13; the cutting-edge newbie, the Air Jordan 36; and 32 more to choose from. Before we dive into them, let us give you some insight into how the sneaker line was made.
How was the Air Jordan line born?
1984 was a big year for Michael Jordan – within 12 months the 21-year-old joined the Chicago Bulls as number 23 and signed an unprecedented five-year contract with Nike. Nike founder Phil Knight was able to win over Jordan after the athlete turned down deals with Converse and Adidas with a deal that promised $500,000 a year, an upfront commitment of $250,000 and his own shoe line created by sneaker designer Peter C. Moore. .
A year after Michael Jordan and the Swoosh struck a deal, the Air Jordan 1 made its debut, featuring the Air Jordan wings logo that Moore envisioned while using a pen and napkin during a flight. Initially, the high tops did not meet with MJ’s approval. Truth be told, he believed he would look like a clown if he kicked the pitch. But the design quickly grew on him, especially once he realized how close they made him feel to the court. Physically speaking, of course.
As soon as Jordan came out in their pair of Air Jordan 1s in late 1984, the shoe was in high demand. Predictably, almost all of his fans were craving it. So when the shoes finally dropped on April 1, 1984 for $65, it’s no surprise that they sold out instantly. “The shoe took off almost as fast as the electrifying Chicago Bulls themselves,” wrote a Newsweek writer in an article published June 17, 1985. 35 sequels later, and there’s still demand for every pair of Jordans hitting the market.
What are the best Air Jordan shoes you can buy?
Given that there are currently three dozen Jordan models available, it’s expected that sneaker newbies will find it difficult to navigate the sneaker lineup. Enter our roundup of the 12 best Air Jordans you can own right now, with silhouettes dropping in each of the past five decades.