Most people know 1984 as the year George Orwell predicted the world would be in an apocalyptic surveillance state, while others know it as when Apple launched the Macintosh (alongside an Orwellian, hall-of-fame Super Bowl commercial). To basketball and sneaker fans, 1984 means something else entirely: It was when the league and signature sneakers would be changed forever by a man named Michael Jordan, who made his debut with the Chicago Bulls on October 26 of that year.

Few knew it at the time, but Nike—thanks in large part to the foresight of marketing executive Sonny Vaccaro—had struck gold with MJ. (Today, Jordan Brand earns Nike more than $3 billion a year, and Jordan himself pulls in north of $100 million off royalties.) In college, Jordan wore Converse (as all players at the University of North Carolina did), and just months before his NBA debut, wanted to sign a deal with adidas. But the Three Stripes ultimately never even made MJ an offer, as adidas execs evidently wanted to sign star centers, which is the same reason the Portland Trail Blazers went with Sam Bowie over MJ with the number two overall pick in the ’84 draft. (Note: You hate to see it.) But given that Jordan didn’t actually ink a deal with the Swoosh until the day the season kicked off in 1984 (despite the fact that he had already been posing for photoshoots in Air Jordan 1s and wearing Nike sneakers in August and September), there wasn’t enough time to get the new Air Jordan perfected for game wear and on Michael in time. So, instead, Nike had to outfit Jordan in another one of its signature styles. Two years earlier, the Air Force 1 was a landmark event as Nike’s first-ever “Air” sneaker, but by the time Jordan was ready to don a Bulls jersey, it had a new flagship model in its arsenal—the Air Ship. As such, this would be the sneaker Jordan would wear when he first suited up in the NBA, and—infamously—the one that the NBA banned when he wore it in a black/red color scheme during the pre-season.

In 2020, with the Air Ship set for its first-ever retro release next month alongside a pair of white/red Air Jordan 1s as part of the “new beginnings” pack (according to rumors), let’s take a look back at the mystery and legend that surrounds Michael Jordan’s first ever on-court kicks.

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