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Jordan 1: A Complete OG History

by Tim Stoddart

Jordan 1

The Shoe that changed the game.

The Shoe that represents the legend.

How did the Jordan 1 start it all?


It happened. The game changed. You’re a sneakerhead in large part because of the Jordan 1. We were all kickin’ it in shell toes when Jordan stepped onto the court as a rookie in his 1984 season, but by 1985 the OG Jordan 1 dropped and with them came a global phenomenon. Designer Peter Moore, not the often credited Tinker Hatfield, was responsible for the first ever issue of the Jordan 1. Moore was the one that first sketched the ball-and-wings logo and it was Jordan’s agent, David Falk, who tagged the shoes Nike “Air” Jordans. Ironically, Jordan was the one that kept throwing shade at the shoes.


Originally an Adidas man, Jordan was dying to sign with them, but their offer never came close to what Nike put up. Ironically, Peter Moore went on to become the creative director at Adidas, re-engineering their 3 stripe logo. The OG Nike Air Jordan 1 came out in one colorway – red and black, to match Jordan’s new team, the Chicago Bulls. The red and black colorway came under fire from NBA Commissioner David Stern, and ended up banned. Facing a $5,000 for each game he wore them to, Jordan and Nike saw the value in that kind of marketing. The shoe became a symbol of advantage and defying authority. If they aided performance that much, they had to be worth it, and giving Stern the Bird only helped. Where there had been skepticism over a rookie being able to hawk there was now only awe. The Jordan 1 flew off the shelves.

Jordan 1

Nike went on to incorporate the mandated white into the red and black color way, which became the game shoe for Jordan throughout the ’85 – ’86 season. Additional OG releases included the Jordan 1 in black and royal blue, black and soft grey, white and natural grey, and finally, as a throwback to Jordan’s UNC days, the Tar Heel colorway of white and Carolina blue. The Nike Air Jordan 1 went on to see 23 colorways, including samples, which revolutionized the way the sneaker industry looked at its products altogether. The Jordan 1 played with extremely limited runs and area specific exclusives that drove collectors and fanatics into a frenzy. All this before eBay, or even the internet, were players in the retail world.

Jordan 1

It seems crazy now, but at the time, Nike was struggling to get a foot into the basketball world. The Jordan 1 launched them into the market and almost overnight built a cult following. Reports from around the country were coming in about robberies and beatings related to the shoes. Schools began banning the shoes and once again, they were the outlaw shoe. The first retro release came in 1994 when Jordan announced his retirement. They sold so poorly that a lot of them wound up in clearance – not realizing the worth they would go on to have. What you could have found for $20 in the bargain bin in 1994 now goes for $500 on eBay.

Jordan 1

The Air Jordan 1 is a legend and a staple in any sneakerheads collection. It’s place in history and many, many museums is secure.

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