A HOMAGE TO HOME: THE AIR JORDAN 1
The legacy of the Chicago black, white and red. WORDS: RUSS BENGTSON
The promise that was Air Jordan—from the chance Nike took on a 21-year-old guard from North Carolina, to the ball and wings logo first sketched on a napkin, to the louder-than-a-bomb black and red shoes and apparel that featured it—all came together on the weekend of February 10, 1985 at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. All of the hard work, all of the risks taken, this was the first real opportunity for everyone involved to catch their breath and celebrate.
Well, Michael Jordan didn’t get to rest. That weekend was All-Star Weekend, Jordan’s first, where he’d represent Chicago in the Slam Dunk Contest as a contestant and in Sunday’s All-Star Game as a starter. He’d do so in his signature Air Jordans (and, in the case of the Dunk Contest, the matching apparel), and make a very un-rookielike splash. The actual retail release was still a few months off, but this would be a chance for would-be consumers to get their best look yet at what was coming.
On Saturday, Jordan came out in the league-banned original red-and-black version of the Air Jordan, complete with matching red-and-black nylon tracksuit, red laces laced up to the second-to-last eyelet, something that over the years would become a standard Jordan touch.
He went through the warmups and the first round in his Air Jordan gear, gold chains bouncing around his neck, only revealing his script Chicago red road uniform for the semifinals—where he’d post the round’s only perfect 50 with a dunk from the free-throw line—and finals. He would go on to finish second.
In Sunday’s All-Star game, Jordan laced up the “Chicago” red-black-and-white Air Jordan, in standard red toe form rather than the earlier “black toe” version he’d hung over his shoulder in official photos and worn earlier in the season. He’d score just seven points in the game—it’s long been said he was the victim of a freeze-out orchestrated by veterans—but Jordan still stood out in a way the other All-Stars didn’t. Still a week away from his 22nd birthday, Jordan represented the future. And it wasn’t just the shoes.
The original Air Jordan was released in a multitude of colorways back in 1985, and since then it has been reissued in even more. If you laid them all out toe-to-heel, they’d stretch a long, long way. But if you distill the whole collection down to the most important ones worn by Jordan himself, it comes down to just two—the black/red and black/white/red, with an honorable mention to the “black toe” rendition. The colors Jordan had once called “the devil’s colors,” in reference to an in-state college rival, had become his signature look.
Yes, Jordan wore other Air Jordans, including the black/royal in a now infamous poster shoot on a Portland runway. But the black/red and white/black/red were the only varieties he wore on the league floor—and that weekend of February 10th in 1985 marked the only time he wore both.
To celebrate these original Chicago colorways, Jordan introduces for the first time the “Homage to Home” Air Jordan 1, a down-the-middle joining of the black/red and black/red/white Air Jordan 1s. Unlike Mike, you can represent both colorways at once. And the league can’t do anything to stop you.
The AJ 1 Homage To Home will be available 5/19 from SNKRS