Despite debuting in 1984, the Air Jordan 1 is still one of the most popular sneakers and is regarded as an instant classic. Much of this allure is due to a series of Nike ads referencing the shoe being banned by the NBA. The only problem is; many people believe it was the Nike Air Ship that was banned and not the AJ1.
Michael Jordan was fined $5,000 every game he wore a certain pair of red and black, in accordance with the NBA’s “uniformity of uniform rule.” At the time, shoes had to be mostly black or white – with the loud red drawing the ire of the league. While written in 1985, the Chicago Bulls and Nike were first notified about the prohibition of red and black sneakers after the October 18, 1984 preseason game against the New York Knicks.
Sourcing from Sole Collector, this was days after MJ was spotted wearing the Nike Air Ship on-court in those colors. According to then Nike creative director Peter Moore, the black and red Air Ship was likely made just for Michael at the time. Despite rumors that Nike footed the bill on ever $5000 fine, MJ did wear league compliant colorways like the white and neutral gray version (according to Complex.)
It would be some time before the Jordan brand would acknowledge the existence of the Air Ship. The Nike subsidiary would continue the “Banned” Air Jordan 1 narrative until 2020, when the Jordan Brand finally retroed the Nike Air Ship in the “Beginning Moment’s Pack” alongside a PE Air Jordan 1 colorway.
You can find the Nike Air Ship in the Air Jordan New Beginning’s Pack at StockX and GOAT.
Cover image via NSS Magazine