Nike’s story of the black-and-red Air Jordan 1 makes for sexy marketing: When then-NBA commissioner David Stern saw Michael Jordan wearing the shoes in a 1984 preseason game, he banned them.
Nike and Jordan Brand are pumping that story line as they prepare for the Saturday release of the Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG Banned, a throwback to the classic that sneaker heads have nicknamed the “Bred.”
But the Bred was not the shoe that was banned. It was the Ship.
Let us explain.
Air Jordan sneaker design: A brief history
A brief history of the design inspiration behind Air Jordans.
As original Air Jordan logo designer Peter Moore recalls, Nike and Jordan’s marketing team at ProServ met that August in Washington, D.C., and planned the launch of his first shoe, but it wouldn’t be ready until November. Jordan needed something of Nike’s to wear during training camp and preseason and the brain trust wanted it to be red and black, as they intended the first shoe’s color scheme to be, to make him stand out from other players.
At the time, however, NBA shoes had to be mostly white, and Stern “banned the red and black because he proclaimed that the red and black were not the color of the Bulls — the shoes didn’t meet the uniform standard,” said Moore, who is now founder of What’a Ya Think, a Portland, Ore.-based. branding consulting company. “They were the colors of the Bulls, they just were lacking white, but you don’t argue with David Stern at that point.”
During the regular season, Jordan alternated between red-and-white Ships and Air Jordan 1 Retro Banned , nicknamed “Chicagos.”
So how have the red-and-black Ships and Breds come to be confused?
“The Air Ship was basically colored up to look like the shoe that was coming,” Moore said. “Those shoes were probably specially made for him to wear, and they were what his Air Jordans would look like once they came. Nobody would know the difference unless they had the shoes in front of them.”