Michael Jordan and his "devil" shoe. (AP)
The Cult of the Air Jordan is a passionate one. Since the first release of Michal Jordan's iconic shoe line in 1985, Nike has managed to develop a dedication of follower that borders on frenzy - do a Google search for "Air Jordan" and gaze at the 33,000,000+ links for proof if you have a few spare minutes.
Each year a new high top is rolled out to the delight of the fashion-aware ballers, hipsters, trendsters and collectors - mostly long gone are the days when you could get jacked up for you Mikes, even thought they still command a mighty price.
Nike's Jumpman23 site is, yes, above all a marketing/advertising push for you to fork over your hard-earned dollars for a tennis shoe. But at least they do it in a cool way. Not least of the interesting features is this new timeline feature that takes you through the years of Air Jordan with interesting videos, photos and facts about the man who could fly.
It's a visual tale and famous marriage that, as many know, almost never happened. The mercurial Jordan originally didn't want to sign with Nike and certainly had no interest in the original Air Jordan, famously pledging "I can't wear that shoe, those are Devil colors."
But Jordan's family was insistent he meet with Nike co-founder Phil Knight and a few million dollars later the world's most famous shoe and fastest-rising star were joined in marketing history, as the blog Sneakerhead chronicles:
With those four words, ["Let's do the deal,"] the Air Jordan legacy was born. Nike signed Jordan to a $2.5 million deal for 5 years, plus royalties and other fringe benefits. Peter Moore created the first AJ Logo with a basketball with wings lifting it. The introduction of the Air Jordan I turned the athletic shoe industry upside down. Before the AJ I, most basketball shoes were white, but the bold black and red styling of the Jordan I flouted this convention. The NBA banned the shoe from the league in response, but Jordan wore them anyway, racking up serious fines of up to $5000 a game. Nike, of course, was more than happy to pay these to keep the shoes on Jordan's feet and in the public eye. All this controversy and Jordan's spectacular numbers that year served to put the Air Jordan line on the road to becoming a household name.
Michael may be a little older, plumper and, judging by his Hall of Fame induction speech, a bit more bitter these days. But the man is still an historic icon and it's still gotta be the shoes.