10 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘Air Jordan’

Few brands are as synonymous with a single individual as ‘Air Jordan’ is with Michael Jordan. The legendary basketball sensation who ruled the courts during the late 1980s and 1990s has contributed significantly to the sports industry, not just with his unmatched athletic traits, but through his branded apparel and footwear line, ‘Air Jordan.’ This brand has since earned a spot in popular culture, becoming one of the most iconic sneaker lines worldwide. Let’s delve into the history of Air Jordan to unearth ten surprising facts you might not know.

1. Origin of the Air Jordan Brand

Conceived in the mid-80s, ‘Air Jordan’ was born out of a collaboration between Nike sportswear company and Michael Jordan. The idea was to use Jordan’s soaring popularity to elevate Nike’s positioning in the market. With Jordan’s astounding athletic ability and market appeal, it was the perfect synergy.

The first ‘Air Jordan’ sneakers were introduced in 1984, designed specifically for Jordan. Initially, these sneakers faced some resistance from the NBA due to their predominantly black and red coloring that didn’t conform to the league’s uniform policy. This controversy, however, served to stoke interest in the product line.

2. Revolutionary Shoe Design

The first Air Jordan footwear was innovative not only for its aesthetic appeal but more so for its intense focus on performance enhancement. Nike designer Peter Moore designed the first pair of Air Jordan shoes, and the priority themes were comfort, durability, and style.

The Air Jordan I was crafted to provide enhanced support, reducing the risk of injury during intensive sports performance. These performance features, coupled with an appealing design, contributed significantly to its instant popularity.

3. Restriction by NBA

Remarkably, the NBA initially banned the Air Jordan I for violating the league’s strict uniform policy. At the time, the league had a rule against shoes that weren’t predominantly white. The fine for violating this regulation was $5000—an amount Nike gladly paid with each infraction, seeing it as an opportunity for marketing.

The Air Jordan line’s literal ‘banned’ status turned out to be an ingenious promotional strategy. The controversy stirred curiosity and increased demand for the sneakers, as each fine publicized the shoe even further.

4. Inspirations for Designs

Most of the Air Jordan designs are inspired by Jordan’s life, hobbies, and experiences. For instance, the Air Jordan III, designed by Tinker Hatfield, took inspiration from Jordan’s love for Italian dress shoes and his performance in the All-Star Dunk Contest.

Likewise, the Air Jordan IX represented Jordan’s global appeal, with various international symbols included in the design. In each release, designers aimed to infuse elements of Jordan’s personality and experiences into the shoe’s look and feel.

5. Not Just Basketball Sneakers

Despite a reputation as a basketball sneaker, Air Jordans have transcended the boundaries of the court to become a fashion and pop culture icon. Hip-hop artists, celebrities, artists, and even presidents have been seen wearing Air Jordans.

Their contribution to fashion is recognizable, with some of the models being worn on ramps in fashion shows. They even have an impact on the art scene, with artists creating pieces inspired by the sneaker line.

6. Skyrocketing Resale Prices

Air Jordans are renowned for their high resale prices which can reach into the thousands. The scarcity of certain models, coupled with their cultural significance, can drive their resale price much higher than their initial retail price.

This surge in value has created an entire subset of sneaker enthusiasts called ‘sneakerheads’, who invest in limited edition and classic models in the hopes of making a substantial profit in the future.

7. Jordan Never Wore The Same Pair Twice

It’s believed that during his professional career, Michael Jordan never wore the same pair of sneakers twice in a game. This led to a quick circulation of models and designs.

In addition, as a superstition from his college days, Jordan wore his University of North Carolina shorts under his Chicago Bulls uniform. Due to this, his shorts had to be longer, which subsequently led to a change in the NBA short length policy.

8. Air Jordan’s Beyond Jordan

Even after Jordan’s retirement, the Air Jordan brand continued to flourish, with new models released each year. Other athletes, such as Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and recent signing Zion Williamson, have their own lines under the Jordan brand.

The brand continues to have significant cultural relevance, and the legacy left behind by Michael Jordan will continue to influence the world of sports and fashion for the foreseeable future.

9. Most Expensive Air Jordans Ever Sold

The extent of the brand’s cultural significance and appeal was evident when a pair of Air Jordan 12’s worn by Jordan during the 1997 NBA finals (the so-called “Flu Game”) was sold in an auction for a whopping $104,765.

Also, a prototype Nike Air Ship worn by Jordan during his 1984 rookie season sold for more than half a million dollars at an auction. The sky is seemingly the limit when it comes to the price of this footwear in the secondary market.

10. Air Jordan and Charity

One important factor about the Air Jordan brand that often goes unmentioned is its charitable contributions. In 2018, Nike announced that all proceeds from the sale of the limited edition Air Jordan “Wings” would go to the Wings charity.

The Wings charity utilizes the transformative power of education to break the cycle of poverty. By purchasing certain Air Jordan models, consumers are supporting a worthy cause.


The Air Jordan brand is much more than a line of sneakers; it’s a symbol of athletic excellence, a style trendsetter, and a brand that has left an indelible mark on the global sports and fashion industries. The story of Air Jordan bears testament to Jordan’s enduring impact, not just on the basketball court, but well beyond it.

Nike: Air Jordan Line

CNBC: Most Expensive Air Jordans

Highsnobiety: Best Air Jordans of All Time

Air Jordan III