It’s a common fact that the Air Jordan 1 kickstarted Michael Jordan’s career. But what if we told you that this isn’t the case? And that it was the Nike Air Ship that directed the limelight onto MJ’s collaboration with Nike. So, let’s uncover the Nike Air Ship history and see how they contributed to the success of Air Jordans.
Nike Air Ship History
Before he ever laced up Air Jordan 1s, Michael Jordan was rocking Nike Air Ships. In 1984, the Swoosh produced the first Nike Air Ship, which was designed by Bruce Kilgore. It was the first basketball shoe Michael Jordan wore as an NBA professional.
And so, in his rookie year, MJ wore a Black and Red- AKA Bred- Nike Air Ship. Which Nike’s creative director, Peter Moore specially designed for him. And THAT was the shoe that got banned by the NBA. Only on November 17th, a month after the NBA filed a report to Nike saying that MJ violated the “uniformity of uniform rule,” did Michael Jordan lace up the first Air Jordan.
Throughout that month, Nike was putting their ingenious idea into action as they worked hard on capitalizing on the banned shoe idea. They literally created a commercial– featuring MJ- that said: “On September 15th, Nike created a revolutionary new basketball shoe. On October 18th, the NBA threw them out of the game. Fortunately, the NBA can’t stop you from wearing them.” So, while Nike designers worked on meeting deadlines, the Swoosh was having fun paying $5,000 worth of fines each time the NBA GOAT wore the banned kicks. In the meantime, the hype was spreading way beyond the NBA court. And that’s how Air Ships played their part in making Air Jordans one of the best sneakers to ever drop.
Where Are Nike Air Ships Now?
The Nike Air Ship went MIA until Nike decided to finally acknowledge it in 2014 when they tweeted: “One small step for MJ. One giant leap for the game.” Many believed that this was a teaser and that Nike would be introducing retros in no time. But sadly enough for fans, it took the brand 6 years after that tweet to bring the retros back. And the first to drop was the x Jordan 1 x Air Ship New Beginnings pack, which retailed for $350. After that, they reissued the Banned version, followed by several colorways, and A Ma Maniere’s PE SP limited collab.
Nike Air Ship 1984 Sells for over $1 Million
So, the Nike Air Ship Red and White was the pair His Airness wore to his fifth-ever NBA game. According to Sotheby’s, they were first gifted to Denver Nuggets Ball Boy TJ Lewis after the Bulls’ game against the Nuggets on November 1, 1984. Fast forward to 2021, Lewis sold the sneakers via Sotheby’s in 2021 for $1.47 Million! Which were the most expensive game-worn shoes to ever be sold back then. The kicks also feature MJ’s signature from his rookie season.
It’s also worth noting that you’ve got an epic Nike Air Ship dropping this month in collaboration with Corporate. Check it out here!