The partnership between Nike and Michael Jordan, the most lucrative and essential brand/ambassador relationship in the history of sports and fashion, was never supposed to happen.

Upon entering the 1984 NBA Draft, a young Michael Jordan had his pick of sneaker companies vying for his services. He hooped in Converses while at the University of North Carolina, which already boasted a roster of All-Stars, including Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Nike was hot on his tail, seeing the potential in the All-American and even going so far as to tailor an entire signature sneaker and brand to him. But despite all the interest from and connections with other brands, Jordan had his sights set on one partner: adidas. In an epic failure akin to the Portland Trailblazers passing on Jordan with the number two pick in that ‘84 Draft, adidas balked at the idea of signing Jordan, instead opting to build its basketball line around “taller” players. Sensing an opportunity, Nike would bring an exhausted Jordan—fresh off a gold medal at the Olympics in the summer of 1984—and his parents to Beaverton for the full pitch.

Right from the beginning, Nike stressed that Jordan would have an input on the design of his shoes. No one else had offered him that kind of control, and control was something Jordan was keen on. In addition, Nike, at the behest of legendary sneaker wheeler-dealer Sonny Vaccaro, offered Jordan $500,000 per year for five years, far more than any other brand was willing to hand over. The rest is history and the Air Jordan line was officially born.

The sneaker that started it all was designed by Peter Moore, Nike’s creative director at the time. While Nike was fine-tuning the [details of the Jordan I]( and prepping for a 1985 release, Jordan needed sneakers to wear at the beginning of the 1984-85 season. He would begin his career in the Air Ship, a sneaker which bears some resemblance to the Jordan I. In April 1985, the original Air Jordan I released at a retail price of $65. It would be released in a wide variety of colors throughout 1985 and 1986 and would eventually see its first retro release in 1994. Jordan would go on to win Rookie of the Year in 1985 and he quickly became one of the most popular and exciting young players in the NBA.

The importance of the Jordan I cannot be overstated. Its influence on not just basketball, but fashion and pop culture, is immeasurable. Over the past 35 years, the Jordan I has gone through countless reinventions. There have been lows, mids and highs (literally). There have been “Countdown Packs” and collaborations. No matter what happens to the Jordan I, its place among the elite sneakers of all time has never been stronger, thanks to an impressive catalog of some of the most imaginative and exciting sneakers Nike has ever produced.

As we celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the Jordan I, it’s important to look back at some of the most important colorways which helped build the legend. From the unimpeachable “Banned” OGs, to the deconstructed renderings of Virgil Abloh, and so many more, (in no particular order) here are the Best Jordan Is of All Time.

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