Nike came out with its XXXI version of Air Jordan Sneakers on September 3, 2016. What’s fun about this new sneaker is that it is an homage to the Air Jordan I sneaker that the NBA banned back in October, 1984. The new XXXI and the retro Air Jordan I was both available in retail stores. Let’s take a step into history to revive the Air Jordan I original release tale.
- Air Jordan I Banned by NBA: The Air Jordan I was a black and red shoe that was out of step with the NBA’s dress code when first released in 1985. That meant that the NBA would not have permitted Jordan and other NBA players to wear the shoe in official NBA games. (The NBA uniform code said that every player’s shoes had to match the team. Team shoes had to have a white base with team color accents or carry black with white accents.) Nike had actually imposed the original ban, however, against an earlier Jordan shoe called the Nike Air Ship. Jordan wore the Air Ship in a preseason game in 1984. The NBA officially — and in writing — banned the shoe in 1985 in correspondence sent directly to Nike. The league threatened to impose a $5,000 fine any time Jordan would wear the shoes in official games. When Nike released the Air Jordan I, the company used the banned idea to promote the new shoes, too. Nike was happy to offer to pay Jordan’s fines for wearing the Air Jordan I shoes because it was getting such good publicity from the story. It’s unclear that the fine was ever actually imposed because the only time Jordan seemed to wear the black-and-red Air Jordan I was in a contest that wasn’t an official game. But it made a great ad campaign for the Air Jordan I and created a sports legend of sorts out of the classic sneaker.
- Air Jordan XXXI: Nike is making history again with the red-and-black Air Jordan XXXI release in 2016. The new basketball shoe is the first to incorporate a woven material in the front part of the shoe with a leather upper. The material in the front of the shoe is a weave — called a flight weave — that combines great flexibility with great comfort. The designers used embroidery to bring the flight weave and the leather together into an unforgettable look. An unbelievable 100 people made the design happen, including MJ himself.
- Performance notes: The design of the new Air Jordan XXXI includes six pods on the sneaker’s ankle area inside the shoe. The story is that MJ contributed this idea to the design as well. The pods lock the ankle in for extra support.
- Retro Release: Nike first brought back the classic Air Jordan I as a retro version after MJ retired in 1994. The first retro version was not a commercial success. Then, in 2001, Nike released a second retro version in its black/red colorways which sold very well. Nike has released hundreds of retro versions of the Air Jordan I in high tops, mid-level, and low-cut styles. It is the most popular retro shoe. In addition to the September 2016 release of the Air Jordan XXXI, Nike released a retro version of the Air Jordan I which will be on retailer shelves at the same time. Michael Jordan wore the Air Jordan I in his final game as a Chicago Bull in 1998 at Madison Square Garden in New York.