What are Air Jordans?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 03 January 2020
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Air Jordans are athletic shoes manufactured by Nike under the signature of National Basketball Association (NBA) legend Michael Jordan. They made their debut in 1985, and there have been a total of 21 different styles in the original series released through the year 2006. When Michael Jordan was in his prime, Air Jordans were the single best selling brand of athletic shoes, and they continue to be an extremely popular shoe.

Nike's trademark “swoosh” symbol appeared on the side of the first Air Jordans, and subsequent styles featured Michael’s trademarked “jumpman” symbol, which depicts Michael soaring to the hoop as only he could do. These shoes were most often designed with red and black as a recurring and often predominant color scheme to coordinate with the team colors of the Chicago Bulls. In the 2001-2002 season, Michael came out of a short-lived retirement and played for the Washington Wizards. The Air Jordan XVII and XVIII were the first Air Jordans to appear with any blue, paying homage to Michael and his newly acquired colors.


Each new design of Air Jordans paid tribute in some way to Michael’s current career status. Some were designed to address comfort or support issues that Jordan had playing on the court, and others were designed for his other athletic endeavors, including baseball and golf. They have always been primarily designed as a semi-high or high top athletic shoe, not a low-rise tennis shoe, though today there are more varied styles. Backed by the Nike brand quality, Air Jordans not only became a male fashion statement, but were also often acquired by high school sports teams in colors corresponding to their own school colors.

In addition to the original series of 21 Air Jordans released to date, there are other models, including retro versions and Jordan trainers in various styles and colors. The Jordan and Nike collaboration also has a line of Air Jordan clothing and athletic accessories.


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