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The tale behind Michael Jordan and the veto prescribed by the NBA on a certain pair of Air Jordan basketball shoes is the stuff of sneaker and basketball folklore. To date, fans understood that Jordan was fined the amount of $5,000 at least once for donning footwear that didn’t comply with the NBA’s uniform regulations, which stated “A player must wear shoes that not only matched their uniforms, but matched the shoes worn by their teammates.” Of course, the Jumpman himself wearing any Nike-branded goods during gameplay was great advertisement for the Beaverton crew and as the story goes, MJ continued wearing these banned sneakers, while Nike picked up any fees incurred.

Here is where things get confusing. As a complete record does not exist showing which shoes Jordan wore during his rookie year in 1984, we can only look to photos, and a certain letter penned by NBA Executive Vice President at the time, Russ Granik, speaking on a pair of “red and black Nike Basketball shoes” that broke the NBA’s dress code. The Air Jordan 1 seemed to be a safe guess, in terms of which specific sneaker caught the ban, as this was the first silhouette in Jordan’s signature model lineage. Sneaker nerds from the Internet have now unveiled that Nike’s Air Jordan 1 was not in fact the banned shoe, rather it was the Nike Air Ship, a pair that remains based in slight obscurity, thanks to the fact that it has never been rereleased.

This important chapter in Jordan Brand‘s history is still a bit unclear, especially on Nike’s side of things. Was the whole thing Nike’s idea? Did they actually foot the bill? Why haven’t these iconic sneakers – that do bear a striking resemblance to the Air Jordan 1 – been included in a retro release?

You may have a rather difficult time tracking down a pair of Nike Air Ship sneakers today, but you can check out all the new Nike footwear over at What Drops Now.

Read the full scoop on Sole Collector.

Vancouver-born, Berlin-based writer, photographer and editor with a steady hand on the keyboard.

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