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Michael Jordan’s Infamous Banned Shoes Weren’t Air Jordan 1’s

Michael Jordan’s Infamous Banned Shoes Weren’t Air Jordan 1’s

Nobody would even care about this piece of news but as self-confessed basketball and sneaker fanatics, we should take pride in having our facts straight. And this time around, we have the pleasure of having this one historical bit of sneaker history finally straightened out, thanks to Complex’s Russ Bengtson.

Via Complex.com, Bengtson wrote:

The NBA had banned Michael Jordan from wearing a black-and-red shoe, similar to the new ones that were covered by black bars in the commercial. But they weren’t Air Jordans—those came later. Jordan started the season in a black-and-red version of an entirely different shoe: the Air Ship.

Had the NBA season started later, or Jordan signed with Nike earlier, it’s likely he wouldn’t have needed to wear the Air Ship at all. His first Nike contract was dated October 26, 1984, the same day the Bulls played their first regular-season game. He’d spent the summer anchoring the USA Olympic team in Los Angeles and exploring the possibility of signing with his first choice, Adidas. Which meant the Air Jordan—September 15 creation date or not—wasn’t ready when the Bulls played their first preseason game.

Instead, Jordan laced up a black-and-red version of the Air Ship, which, as then-Nike creative director Peter Moore remembers, they had ordered just for Jordan. “It would have been a special make up,” he tells Complex,  “and they might have made, say, 25 pairs or something only for him.” If something like this happened today, it would have been cause for some sort of special release. Back then, though, it was just something he wore. Hardly anyone noticed, except for the earliest sneaker die-hards—and, of course, the NBA.

Again, this would hardly move the needle as far as the news radar is concerned but as true followers of the game, knowing this bit of information means we have one more trivia to share with our drinking buddies during a Friday night.

Photo: Image via Getty/Bettman

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