What’s an Air Jordan?
“WHAT’S AN AIR JORDAN?” your 14-year-old screams in disbelief.
It’s that high-top basketball shoe you probably bought your teen-ager a few months ago. If you wince at the memory of the $65 price tag, be consoled. You’re not alone; between 2 1/2 and 3 million other people bought the sneaker this year in a street-fad whirlwind that made it a legend, at least in the annals of sports shoes. And perhaps in the annals of feet.
The shoe has brought Nike about $105 million since last March, according to the company. “It’s far and away the most successful shoe in the history of athletic footwear, ” says Chris Van Dyke of Nike. “We would have considered it successful if we had made $2 million to $8 million the first year.”
In its 10-month sales blitz, the Air Jordan far outdistanced even the Stan Smith tennis shoe, which has sold about 7 million pairs over a period of more than 10 years, according to David Falk, senior vice president of ProServ, the sports management company that represents both Jordan and Smith.
It all started on Oct. 15, 1984, at a preseason game, when the Chicago Bulls’ heroic Michael Jordan landed on the court sporting his team’s colors on the most unlikely looking pair of high-tops - black leather with a red Nike “swoosh” stripe and red laces.
As legend goes, the NBA soon threatened to discipline the high-jumping Jordan. There would be a fine of $5, 000 if he dared to play an NBA game in those unorthodox things again. Wearing them was some kind of technical foul.
The Nike Air Jordan logo (Rick Bowmer/Ap)
The rest is shoe history. The world of basketball watched Jordan return to the court in modified shoes; Nike had added white, a traditional basketball shoe color, to the Air Jordan line. Then the NBA said, “Okay, okay. We give in.”