Sunday , Jul , 13 , 2003 C.Y. Ellis

The Birth of the Famous Nike Air Jordan I Black and Red

Early winter 1984, Nike (a struggling shoe company then) had to find another selling segment as the running-shoe craze began to wind down. Nike thought Michael Jordan was the man to save the company, hoping that the other products he was already endorsing would rub-off on the shoes.

But Michael Jordan, a rookie, just out of college didn’t like Nike. He liked Converse, the shoes endorsed by North Carolina and coach Dean Smith. But Converse already had great players like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson on their payroll. They weren’t prepared to offer a better deal than Nike. The other company MJ was interested in, was Adidas. However Adidas did not show much enthusiasm for this rookie, and in fact gave him a worse deal than Converse!!

David Falk (Michael Jordan’s agent) wanted Jordan to sign up with Nike because Nike was prepared to give him his own line of shoes, called the “Air Jordan”. Michael Jordan didn’t see the significance of a shoe deal. A shoe is a shoe after all, you sign-up and get paid for wearing them. Nike knew Jordan was something special, he was a champion with a big heart, and they put the company on the line for him.

After much “persuasion” from Falk and Michael Jordan’s parents, the reluctant rookie got on the plane to Nike headquarters in Portland for a special video presentation. The video presentation had slow-motion clips of Jordan’s college moves and some of his Olympic dunks played to the hit music “Jump” by the Pointer Sisters .

Peter Moore(Nike’s Head Designer) showed a few sketches of Air Jordan 1 shoes, jumpsuits, and sports apparel with the BLACK AND RED colour. “I can’t wear that shoe, those are Devil colours” Michael Jordan remarked. Thoroughout the meeting Michael Jordan showed no emotion, in fact he seemed disinterested.

Just for your info:

The black/red model was banned by the NBA back in 1985 due to NBA color rules and this actually helped to create more publicity and interest for the shoes. Who knows, it might have been a marketing trick from Nike.A great thing with the original Air Jordan I’s were that they came with a double set of laces to match the two different colors the shoe was made up in. For instance the black/red’s came with one set of black laces and one set of red laces.

The white/black-red and black/red were released as retros in 1994 and sold very poorly. Noone seemed to want them. They went on sale for $20 at some stores in the US

Then as he and Falk walked out of the meeting, Michael Jordan said to Falk, “Let’s make the deal.” There you go, the Genesis of Air Jordans. Peter Moore gave us the first Air Jordan Logo which was a basketball with wings lifting it.

After Michael Jordan won the 1986-87 Slam Dunk comp at Seattle Colliseum, the logo metamorphosised into the Jumpman Logo we all recognise.

Nike signed Jordan to a US$2.5 million deal for 5 years, plus royalties and other fringe benefits.

The Birth of the Famous Nike Air Jordan I Black and Red