MJ Mondays: Banned

Our MJ Mondays segment continues this week as we looked last week at the Nike Air Ship and this week the Air Jordan 1. And when it comes to the Air Jordan 1…only one word in the last five years has come to the forefront. Banned. And as fate or folklore would have it; the Air Jordan 1 instantly became a mythological entity in itself. Over the years we’ve heard that Jordan (and subsequently Nike) was fined $5000 each game MJ wore his first signature. Subsequently Nike because it was rumored that the Swoosh picked up the tab. All of which lead to the 2011 ‘Banned’ Air Jordan 1 High, which resurrected the Nike Air tab on the tongue for the 1s.

mj in air jordan 1 rookie year (2)But what was it that made the Air Jordan 1 so monumental. At the time…there was probably no way to tell that Jordan would end up being the greatest player to ever pick up a basketball.

And at the time there was certainly no way to tell that Jordan would have the most long standing signature of all-time. Yet alone make him hundreds of millions of dollars long after his retirement. And help him reach billionaire status.

So, was it the look? It was fresh it, it was new. Peter Moore created a gem that was part Nike Basketball but part Jordan. The design fitted Jordan’s flair and flashiness but it was so simplistic that it was street legal.

Perhaps it was a changing of the guard. These were not your dad’s Chuck Taylors after all. These were Air Jordan 1s. They were young, they were hip. And while the price tag scared some…it was a bold statement as well as a mad scientist’s calculated risk. And the risk paid off. Because we’re still talking about the sneaker three decades later.

Maybe it was just the perfect storm. Nike was on the come-up and willing to take chances. Despite its success, the company was still fairly young after committing itself as the Swoosh. Maybe it was the mystery of Jordan who was best known for hitting the game winning shot in the 1982 National Championship at the time. But there was still a shroud of mystery around him. Ask Portland about it…they should be experts on the subject. Things sometimes fall into place in ways we cannot fathom and that is what defines destiny or fate.

mj in air jordan 1 rookie year (3_

Who ultimately knows for certain…but what we do know is that the “banning” of the Air Jordan 1 back in 1985 proved to be the best thing that could happen for the line. Because it gave the line an identity…a long lasting identity. And whether it was the Nike Air Ship or the Air Jordan 1…is just speculation. The only persons to know for certain are those at Nike instrumental in the Air Jordan 1’s design and release and David Stern himself. But while Mr. Stern was being the chief of the NBA’s fashion police he inadvertently provided Nike with a marketing campaign that landed right at their doorstep.

It also doesn’t hurt that Jordan wowed the basketball world in his first signature which set the tone for what we came to know from his line for years to come on a performance level.

After all…he did drop 63-points on the Boston Celtics in the playoffs in 1986. And that record still stands to this very day.

So banning the Air Jordan 1 really was a blessing in disguise because it gave the sneaker an identity. What banning the sneaker did was place this mythological aura around Jordan who’s athleticism and play added to the aura. Especially when Mike took flight…because a human is not supposed to fly….right? Right? But when he flew that rookie year, the Air Jordan 1 flew.

Stay tuned for next week’s installment where a special anniversary is chronicled.