When Nike introduced the Air Jordan 1 basketball sneakers in 1985, it did more than just bring forth a new product line. However, it almost didn’t happen as a less than enthusiastic Michael Jordan from the Chicago Bulls didn’t want to endorse Nike as he never wore the brand.
He was an Adidas fan and wanted to work with them, but circumstances saw to it a pair up of the rookie basketball star in the making with Nike was going to happen, one way or the other. What looked like a huge gamble by Nike at first, initially investing in some rookie from North Carolina, turned out to have a huge payoff.
When Michael Jordan first sported the original Air Jordan 1, the colorway featured Nike’s signature basketball features, as well as the compressed air pocket in the heel and added ankle support, as well as an overlay on the toe. Nike’s own logo, plus the wings, and the Air Jordan label is what made these shoes stand out.
Fined $5,000 per Day
Whether or not one would consider the first generation of the Air Jordan 1 to be the best colorway, it is one of two that is most recognized. At first, the National Basketball Association (NBA) wasn’t happy with Michael Jordan sporting the red, black, and white each time he played a game as it went against the standard white shoes the rest of the players in the league wore.
Jordan was fined $5,000 USD per day, one which Nike paid in order to keep promoting this new product. What launched the Air Jordan 1 basketball shoes to new heights of popularity was a 1986 interview Michael Jordan did on the David Letterman Show when the topic of the controversial shoes came up.
That interview triggered even more interest in the Air Jordan 1 shoes, as well as the sixty-three points he scored against Larry Bird and his Boston Celtics team during his rookie year.
Here are our picks for the 10 best Jordan 1 Colorways:
10. Retro Hyper Royal
With the faded blue-jean look, combined with the white, and gray as the colorway for this Air Jordan 1, these shoes look as retro as it gets. That perfect blend of new-looking old, but old-looking new makes these shoes has made this particular colorway of the Air Jordan 1 lineup one of the big favorites when Sneaker News about them first came about in October 2020.
9. Retro High Lucky Green
Commemorating the sixty-three points Michael Jordan scored in a single game against the Boston Celtics when the Chicago Bulls played against them in 1985, the Retro High Lucky Green colorway scheme features bright green overlays against the white leather backdrop and, in black, the trademark swoosh mark and laces. In red, the winged Air Jordan logo adds even more color to one of the best-looking shoes the Air Jordan 1 offers.
8. High “Shoe of the Derby” Panda Twist
Simply in black and white as a colorway scheme, like the Panda Bear, this commemorative Air Jordan 1 pays homage to the 2019 Kentucky Derby.
After its release, it became nicknamed the Shoe of the Derby, but Nike officially called these Air Jordan 1 models Twist. Another highlighted feature is the trademarked wing logos as they’re elevated as metal eyelets. It adds a hint of luxury to an already beautiful pair of shoes.
Introduced in 1985 as part of Nike’s first generation of Air Jordan 1 shoes, the Royal colorway scheme came in a black and blue colorway, along with a white wraparound at the bottom.
When Michael Jordan first wore the Royal colorway scheme of the Air Jordan 1, the distraction it caused against his opponents was partly the reason why the NBA disapproved as both Jordan and Nike were breaking all the rules about the sort of shoe players are supposed to wear on the basketball court.
6. Black Toes
The colorway scheme is black, red, and white, but they’re not the same as the Chicago, nor the Bred colorways. These, however, were shoes Michael Jordan did wear while playing for the Chicago Bulls as one of the NBA’s greatest basketball stars ever to grace the court.
As seen on Sneakerbuck’s photo, the authentic pair hangs off Jordan’s shoulder in one of his photoshoots while endorsing what was Nike’s brand new shoe lineup at the time.
5. Shattered Backboard
When the 2015 Shattered Backboard colorway scheme came as a Jordan 1 High OG design, the popularity of the orange, black, and white colorway was high when they first came out and are still just as popular today. These have been known to sell as high as $1000 in the aftermarket.
Hypebeast was among a handful of news sources that first announced Nike’s Shattered Backboard as the latest edition to the Air Jordan 1 lineup. The colorway scheme matches the uniform colors Michael Jordan wore at an exhibition match in Italy in 1985. This is where he began to earn fame for his dunking abilities as a basketball player that later became one of the most influential stars of the sport.
4. Red and White
During Michael Jordan’s rookie season, there was a time where the Air Jordan 1 by Nike was not made yet. Instead, the then-rookie basketball phenom playing for the Chicago Bulls sported a red and white colorway of the Nike Air Ships.
These were a specially modified pair of basketball sneakers for Jordan’s need as a player as he preferred the fits of Adidas shoes lower-to-ground shoes than Nike’s. According to ESPN, these very shoes Jordan wore were sold at an auction for $1.472 million.
They were worn during his fifth game as a rookie when his team played against the Denver Nuggets. Now as an official Jordan 1 product, the red and white colorway is the closest thing Nike shoe buyers can get to put their feet into a piece of basketball history.
3. University Blue, White, and Black
For retro fans who remember Michael Jordan’s college basketball team, the North Carolina Tar Heels, will remember the blue, white, and black colorway that he sported while playing for his college team. Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG University Blue these highly coveted shoes have seen a multitude of copycats since its 2021 retro launch.
2. Chicago (Black, Red, and White)
When the topic of original Air Jordan 1 shoes comes up, sometimes there’s confusion about the black, red, and white colorway’s pattern. How were they really worn?,The shoes Jordan sported in 1985, are the Nike’s Chicago lineup that features the black, red, and white colorway arranged to match the jersey colors of the Chicago Bulls.
Throughout most of the rookie season, he wore Nike Air Ships before what were actually two versions of the Air Jordan 1 shoes that had the colors of black, red, and white.
1. Bred (Black, Red, and White)
As the shoes that made the news, the Air Jordan 1 sporting the dominance of black and red, then rimmed with white, were referred to as the Bred colorway. For fans into the closest thing they can get to authenticity, this is one of the best money can buy for fans of Michael Jordan, the Chicago Bulls, and the defiant nature Nike displayed during the first year the NBA rules for footwear color schemes were broken. As seen on the Grailed, these are the shoes with the grand colorway scheme that started it all.