Nike Air Jordans: 25 Years of The Legendary Collectible Sneakers

NEW YORK | Sunday, December 26th, 2010 6:52pm EDT

The history of the Air Jordan basketball shoe is pretty well known and basically made the Nike brand.

  • Air Jordan 2010: The window represents basketball great Michael Jordan's "ability to see through his opponents." The Air Jordan 2010 was released in the 2009-10 season for $170. Nike revenue, 2010: $19 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan 2010: The window represents basketball great Michael Jordan's "ability to see through his opponents." The Air Jordan 2010 was released in the 2009-10 season for $170. Nike revenue, 2010: $19 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan 2009: Air Jordan changes its naming convention, ditching Roman numerals for the year unlike previous Air Jordans. It was released in the 2008-09 season for $190. Nike revenue, 2009: $19.2 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan 2009: Air Jordan changes its naming convention, ditching Roman numerals for the year unlike previous Air Jordans. It was released in the 2008-09 season for $190. Nike revenue, 2009: $19.2 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan XXIII The first Air Jordan that sought to be environmentally friendly. The Air Jordan XX3 was released in the 2007-2008 season for $185. Nike revenue, 2008: $18.6 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan XXIII The first Air Jordan that sought to be environmentally friendly. The Air Jordan XX3 was released in the 2007-2008 season for $185. Nike revenue, 2008: $18.6 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan XXII: The camouflage reflected inspiration from the F-22 stealth fighter jet. The Air Jordan XX2 was released in the 2006-07 season for $175. Nike revenue, 2007: $16.3 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan XXII: The camouflage reflected inspiration from the F-22 stealth fighter jet. The Air Jordan XX2 was released in the 2006-07 season for $175. Nike revenue, 2007: $16.3 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan XXI: The Air Jordan XXI was inspired by the Bentley Continental GT Coupe. It had a seamless diamond-quilted bootie. The Air Jordan XXI was released during the 2005-06 season for $175. Nike revenue, 2006: $15 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan XXI: The Air Jordan XXI was inspired by the Bentley Continental GT Coupe. It had a seamless diamond-quilted bootie. The Air Jordan XXI was released during the 2005-06 season for $175. Nike revenue, 2006: $15 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan XX: The Air Jordan XX was inspired by motorcycling shoes. The strap on top had etching of Jordan's milestones. The Air Jordan XX was released during the 2004-05 season for $175. Nike revenue, 2005: $13.7 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan XX: The Air Jordan XX was inspired by motorcycling shoes. The strap on top had etching of Jordan's milestones. The Air Jordan XX was released during the 2004-05 season for $175. Nike revenue, 2005: $13.7 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan XIX: The Air Jordan XIX was inspired by the Black Mamba snake. The Air Jordan XIX was made to be light and flexible. It was released in the 2003-04 season for $165. Nike revenue, 2004: $12.3 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan XIX: The Air Jordan XIX was inspired by the Black Mamba snake. The Air Jordan XIX was made to be light and flexible. It was released in the 2003-04 season for $165. Nike revenue, 2004: $12.3 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan XVIII: Jordan wore for the Air Jordan XVIII during his last game. The Air Jordan XVIII was inspired by Lamborghini. It had a "Drivers Manual." The Air Jordan XVIII was released in the 2002-03 season for $175. Nike revenue, 2003: $10.7 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan XVIII: Jordan wore for the Air Jordan XVIII during his last game. The Air Jordan XVIII was inspired by Lamborghini. It had a "Drivers Manual." The Air Jordan XVIII was released in the 2002-03 season for $175. Nike revenue, 2003: $10.7 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan XVII: The Air Jordan XVII was the most expensive Air Jordan ever made with a price tag of $200. The Air Jordan XVII was sold in a metal briefcase with a CD-ROM. It was released in the 2001-02 season. Nike revenue, 2002: $9.9 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan XVII: The Air Jordan XVII was the most expensive Air Jordan ever made with a price tag of $200. The Air Jordan XVII was sold in a metal briefcase with a CD-ROM. It was released in the 2001-02 season. Nike revenue, 2002: $9.9 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan XVI: The Air Jordan XVI's removable top turned it into a game shoe. It symbolized a move to the front office. The Air Jordan XVI was released during the 2000-01 season for $160. Nike revenue, 2001: $9.5 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan XVI: The Air Jordan XVI's removable top turned it into a game shoe. It symbolized a move to the front office. The Air Jordan XVI was released during the 2000-01 season for $160. Nike revenue, 2001: $9.5 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan XV: The Air Jordan XV was inscribed with "23/6/15," for Jordan's number, his titles, and the shoe model. It was released during the 1999-2000 season for $150. Nike revenue, 2000: $9 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan XV: The Air Jordan XV was inscribed with "23/6/15," for Jordan's number, his titles, and the shoe model. It was released during the 1999-2000 season for $150. Nike revenue, 2000: $9 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan XIV: The Air Jordan XIV was inspired by Jordan's Ferrari 550 M. The Air Jordan XIV was considered one of the most comfortable. It was released in the 1998-99 season for $150. Nike revenue, 1999: $8.8 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan XIV: The Air Jordan XIV was inspired by Jordan's Ferrari 550 M. The Air Jordan XIV was considered one of the most comfortable. It was released in the 1998-99 season for $150. Nike revenue, 1999: $8.8 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan XIII: The Air Jordan XIII was inspired by a blank panther. The Jumpman hologram mimics a panther's eye. The Air Jordan XIII was released during the 1997-98 season for $150. Nike revenue, 1998: $9.6 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan XIII: The Air Jordan XIII was inspired by a blank panther. The Jumpman hologram mimics a panther's eye. The Air Jordan XIII was released during the 1997-98 season for $150. Nike revenue, 1998: $9.6 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan XII: The Air Jordan XII was inspired by a 19th-century dress boot. Jordan wore the Air Jordan XII in the famous NBA Finals "flu game." It was released during the 1996-97 season for $140. Nike revenue, 1997: $9.2 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan XII: The Air Jordan XII was inspired by a 19th-century dress boot. Jordan wore the Air Jordan XII in the famous NBA Finals "flu game." It was released during the 1996-97 season for $140. Nike revenue, 1997: $9.2 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan XI: The Air Jordan XI was the first basketball shoe to have patent leather. Nike aimed for a "formal look." The Air Jordan XI was released in the 1995-96 season for $125. Nike revenue, 1996: $6.5 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan XI: The Air Jordan XI was the first basketball shoe to have patent leather. Nike aimed for a "formal look." The Air Jordan XI was released in the 1995-96 season for $125. Nike revenue, 1996: $6.5 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan X: Jordan rejoined the NBA in March 1995. The color patterns of the Air Jordan X were made for different cities. The Air Jordan X was released during the 1994-95 season for $125. Nike revenue, 1995: $4.8 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan X: Jordan rejoined the NBA in March 1995. The color patterns of the Air Jordan X were made for different cities. The Air Jordan X was released during the 1994-95 season for $125. Nike revenue, 1995: $4.8 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan IX: The Air Jordan IX was released after Jordan's retirement to pursue baseball. It was also made into a cleat. The Air Jordan IX was released during the 1993-94 season for $125. Nike revenue, 1994: $3.8 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan IX: The Air Jordan IX was released after Jordan's retirement to pursue baseball. It was also made into a cleat. The Air Jordan IX was released during the 1993-94 season for $125. Nike revenue, 1994: $3.8 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan VIII: The Air Jordan VIII was issued in only three color patterns. Jordan won three titles. It was released during the 1992-93 season for $140. Nike revenue, 1993: $3.9 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan VIII: The Air Jordan VIII was issued in only three color patterns. Jordan won three titles. It was released during the 1992-93 season for $140. Nike revenue, 1993: $3.9 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan VII: The Air Jordan VII had a neoprene sock liner. Jordan won his second title and an Olympic gold this year. The Air Jordan VII was released during the 1991-92 season for $125. Nike revenue, 1992: $3.4 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan VII: The Air Jordan VII had a neoprene sock liner. Jordan won his second title and an Olympic gold this year. The Air Jordan VII was released during the 1991-92 season for $125. Nike revenue, 1992: $3.4 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan VI: Jordan won his first title with these. The Air Jordan VI had a rear pull tab that was inspired by Porsche. The Air Jordan VI was released during the 1990-91 season for $125. Nike revenue, 1991: $3 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan VI: Jordan won his first title with these. The Air Jordan VI had a rear pull tab that was inspired by Porsche. The Air Jordan VI was released during the 1990-91 season for $125. Nike revenue, 1991: $3 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan V: The Air Jordan V was inspired by the WWII Mustang fighter planes, with a shark-teeth profile on the midsole. The Air Jordan V was released during the 1989-90 season at $125. Nike revenue, 1990: $2.2 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan V: The Air Jordan V was inspired by the WWII Mustang fighter planes, with a shark-teeth profile on the midsole. The Air Jordan V was released during the 1989-90 season at $125. Nike revenue, 1990: $2.2 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan IV: Filmmaker and actor Spike Lee featured the Air Jordan IV in a scene of his movie "Do The Right Thing." The Air Jordan IV was released in the 1988-89 season for $100. Nike revenue, 1989: $1.7 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan IV: Filmmaker and actor Spike Lee featured the Air Jordan IV in a scene of his movie "Do The Right Thing." The Air Jordan IV was released in the 1988-89 season for $100. Nike revenue, 1989: $1.7 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan III: With this shoe, Nike introduced the Jumpman logo. Ads for it featured Spike Lee. The Air Jordan III was released in the 1987-88 season for $100. Nike revenue, 1988: $1.2 billion. Photo: NikeAir Jordan III: With this shoe, Nike introduced the Jumpman logo. Ads for it featured Spike Lee. The Air Jordan III was released in the 1987-88 season for $100. Nike revenue, 1988: $1.2 billion. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan II: The Air Jordan II was made of leather in Italy. It was the only original release not made in black. The Air Jordan II was released in the 1986-87 season at $100. Nike revenue, 1987: $877.4 million. Photo: NikeAir Jordan II: The Air Jordan II was made of leather in Italy. It was the only original release not made in black. The Air Jordan II was released in the 1986-87 season at $100. Nike revenue, 1987: $877.4 million. Photo: Nike
  • Air Jordan I: The Air Jordan I was banned by the NBA for violating a uniformity rule. Jordan wore them and was fined. The Air Jordan I was released in the 1984-1985 season for $65. Nike revenue, 1985: Not available. Photo: NikeAir Jordan I: The Air Jordan I was banned by the NBA for violating a uniformity rule. Jordan wore them and was fined. The Air Jordan I was released in the 1984-1985 season for $65. Nike revenue, 1985: Not available. Photo: Nike

Air Jordan(s), also known simply as Jordans, are a brand of shoes and athletic apparel produced by Nike originally designed for and endorsed by former professional NBA basketball player Michael Jordan. The Air Jordan line is now sold by the Jordan Brand subsidiary of Nike. Since its first release in 1985, there have been new designs of the shoe released each year, even after Michael Jordan retired from the NBA.

Sneaker culture exploded out of the post-war era, when American consumers were confronted with extraordinary new hours of leisure time and realized they needed to wear special shoes to take part in the activities this new free time afforded. The key shoe in these early years was the Adidas Superstar, the first to spread from the feet of NBA stars to those of kids on the street.

But the arrival of the Michael Jordan-endorsed Nike Air Jordans in 1985 changed everything. Featuring a bold-for-the-time red and black color scheme, the shoes were banned by the NBA for being too outrageous (only white shoes were considered acceptable.) Jordan, the best basketball player in the world, was fined $5,000 by the NBA every time he stepped onto the court in them — a fine Nike happily paid.

The ban turned sneakers from just something people wore on their feet to something illicit, something dangerous — a status symbol. From there, stores would sell out of limited-edition shoes instantly, rappers would make tracks dedicated to their kicks, pundits would spin stories of children being shot for their sneakers, and designers would make shoes into haute couture. But it all started with these Air Jordans.

Collectors classify the Air Jordan line by release year and model: Originals (OG), Retros (shoes that have been recreated for sale to the general public), Retro-pluses (Retro +, Air Jordans that are similar to the Original product, with more up-to-date changes), Player Exclusive (PE, Air Jordans that are exclusive to certain athletes in the realm of sports) and Samples. The Jordan Brand also produces a line of Team shoes, separate from the signature line of Air.

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