One of the reasons why we talk about rare Jordans for sale with such reverence and esteem is partly because of the sheer otherworldly skill of His Airness, but his contribution to the culture of basketball and a defiant individuality in the face of ludicrous rules.
In a controversy that seems utterly quaint now, MJ’s Black and Red Nike Air Ship sneakers were banned by the league, which ended up being the perfect marketing campaign for the shoes.
Outside of Michael Jordan himself, other sneaker endorsements have fascinating stories behind them, which leads to shoes that make an impact, for better and indeed for worse.
Here are some of the most unique sneaker endorsements out there.
Sheryl Swoops’ Nike Air Swoopes
Michael Jordan was the first basketball player to get a signature Nike shoe (not counting their later buyout of Converse and their Chuck Taylor All-Stars), but the second was another groundbreaking game-changing choice.
Sheryl Swoops was the first player signed to the WNBA in 1996, where she would win four straight championships, six all-star nominations, three MVPs and three Olympic Gold medals, immediately drawing comparisons to Michael Jordan in terms of her dominance.
She also had a signature shoe, the Nike Air Swoopes, with a lower heel and a midfoot stability strap that was designed with her frenetic pace in mind. It was such a great sneaker that men looked for larger sized Air Swoopes, highlighting her importance for giving the new WNBA legitimacy.
Hakeem Olajuwon’s Spalding “The Dream”
Michael Jordan changed the game when it came to sneakers, making them so desirable that they would sometimes get very expensive, which can be seen to this day when looking for particularly rare desirable colourways.
However, in the 1980s and 1990s, this took on a much darker dimension, as a combination of high price, high demand and peer pressure led some to steal either money or the shoes themselves.
Both Hakeem Olajuwon, two-time NBA champion with the Houston Rockets, and Stephon Marbury came to the same conclusion; a cheaper sneaker would stop people from turning to crime to get a superstar sneaker.
Mr Marbury’s approach, the Starbury, was an exceptionally cheap sneaker, for better and for worse, but Mr Olajuwon’s deal with Spalding to produce “The Dream” sneakers in 1995, which retailed at around £30, a far more affordable price compared to the Air Jordans of the day.
The hightops looked very similar to Shaq’s signature Reebok shoe but cost considerably less and whilst not quite as high-quality, were viable shoes to wear when playing sports.
The problem with both them and the Starbury shoes was that they were not seen as low-cost, affordable and universal, they were seen as cheap.
This was not helped by the fact that Foot Locker refused to sell them, so they primarily made their way to Walmart, K-Mart and Payless, supermarkets and budget shops that gave the impression that they were a shoe to buy out of necessity and not by choice.
Whilst 4m Hakeems would sell, they would not be worn by any professional or college player and would fade into obscurity once Mr Olajuwon retired in 2000.
The Sprewell Spinners
The story of Latrell Sprewell’s infamous spinning ode to good taste is one so exceptionally ludicrous that it should be told alongside the Air Jordan tale.
Mr Sprewell, a player known for being angry and quite odd during a time when Metta World Peace and other characters were playing in the NBA, ended up accidentally becoming a shoe spokesperson when Davin Wheels asked him to promote them, largely out of desperation.
He agreed, and on an episode of MTV Cribs showed his spinning shoes off. They took off overnight to the point that instead of being known as Davin Spinners, they became known as Sprewell Spinners, which upset the manufacturer.
After that short-lived partnership, Spree would work with Dada to create Supreme Spinners, which people still just called Sprewell Spinners.