Michael Jordan signed a deal with Nike during his NBA rookie season in 1984. At the time, Adidas and Converse were on top of the sneaker chain. Prior to Jordan's partnership with Nike, it seemed like he was going to sign with Adidas. Nike, however, offered the rookie a more lucrative offer that Jordan couldn't turn down.
Nike offered Jordan a five-year deal worth $500,000 per year. It was crazy for a sneaker company at the time to pay a player that amount of money. However, just like the rest of the NBA, Nike knew that Jordan was special and decided to go all in on Air Jordan.
Nike Air Jordan made its debut in late 1984 when Jordan wore his signature shoes for the first time. Jordan wearing the pair in-game was controversial. The league had a rule that allowed players to only wear white sneakers regardless of brand.
The Air Jordans had a red, black and white colorway representing the Chicago Bulls' colors. Because of that, every time Jordan wore those shoes, he was fined $5,000. It didn't matter though as Nike was willing to shoulder all the expenses just so Jordan could promote his shoes.
Michael Jordan was able to stir up enough hype before the Air Jordans officially launched in retail stores. Nike's Air Jordans was released in 1985 and exceeded predictions in sales. In the first year alone, Air Jordans sold for $126 million. These shoes are what put Nike on the map.
Jordan went on to become arguably the greatest basketball player of all time. His shoeline expanded and has gone on to arguably become the greatest sneaker line of all time. According to Centuro Global, as of 2020, Jordan has made $1.3 billion from his Nike deal.
Michael Jordan's top Air Jordans
Air Jordan I
The pair that started it all. Michael Jordan's Air Jordan 1 is without a doubt a classic that never goes out of style. Celebrities and sneaker enthusiasts alike make sure to have these bad boys in their shoe collection. Also, there are just so many modern versions of the shoe that everyone likes wearing for lifestyle.
Air Jordan XI
Air Jordan XI should definitely be part of this list. Jordan first debuted these shoes when he made his comeback from his first retirement in 1995. What makes the pair extra special is the fact that Jordan wore it in one of the most iconic basketball films, "Space Jam."
Air Jordan III
When Tinker Hatfield took over from Peter Moore, it was his debut design. He went off to a fast start. In addition to pushing Air Jordans into a distinct category, Hatfield continued the Swoosh-free style first introduced with Air Jordan IIs. He also added eye-catching elephant print panels to the uppers in either black or white.
It broadened the possibilities for shoe design. But what truly elevates the sneaker's popularity is the addition of Jordan's trademark Jumpman logo.