Although the first two Nike Air Jordans had a specific emblem for Jordan, it was the "Wings" graphic that designers Peter Moore and Bruce Kilgore used for the Air Jordan 1 and Air Jordan 2. The picture above, however, was utilized as Nike's first technical application of the Jumpman emblem on the Air Jordan 1 hangtag. This early version of the shoe did not have any color variation or design details like many later models would have, so it can be considered the original white sneaker.
A black-and-white photo of a man wearing a red-and-black pair of sneakers has become one of sport's most recognizable images. On January 4, 1984, Michael Jordan made his debut in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls. One of the players on that team was Ron Mercer, a 26-year-old forward from Wilmington, North Carolina. In honor of Jordan's arrival in Chicago, Mercer wore matching red-and-black sneakers during their first game together. These photos were taken by Chris McNamara, who was working as a freelance photographer for Sports Illustrated at the time.
Mercer didn't wear the shoes again until after their first game together when Jordan asked him to bring them to the locker room so he could sign them. According to Mercer, Jordan said, "These are the first ones I ever made. They're my favorites." From then on, they became known as the "Red A's" because of their unique color combination.
According to mythology, Michael Jordan was dissatisfied with Nike after the first two Air Jordans. He then decided to create his own brand of sneakers that he could design himself.
Nike used this opportunity to establish itself as a premier basketball shoe manufacturer by adding its name to become Nike, Inc. The "Air" in each product's name refers to the sole of the shoe which is made up of multiple layers of rubber and plastic. This allows for each shoe to be flexible yet provide support when playing basketball.
Michael Jordan signed a contract with Nike in September 1983. He was paid $750,000 over three years including $150,000 in signing bonus money. In return, he gave Nike the right to manufacture and sell his image and have him wear their products during games and practices.
In April 1984, Nike introduced the Air Jordan into a world ready and waiting to embrace it. Sales were so successful that they decided immediately to expand production and release another color variant - Black/White- shortly thereafter.
In June 1985, a third model was released called the Air Jordan III. It included elements such as mesh and leather that were previously unavailable in basketball shoes.
The Air Jordan Jumpman Logo's History It was the first mid-cut basketball shoe, the first to combine an elephant print lifestyle texture, the first to showcase Nike's Air cushioning in a visible fashion, and, most importantly, the first Air Jordan to have the Jumpman emblem, which was positioned on the tongue.
The Jumpman silhouette has remained and continues to grow in iconic status after more than 30 years of Air Jordan shoes since the AJ 3 and nearly two decades of Jordan Brand as a separate brand within Nike.