The curtain rises for Michael Jordan! His Airness stepped into the NBA spotlight in the 1980s and changed basketball forever. Not only did his style of play revolutionize the game, an unprecedented mix of a unique smoothness and elegance combined with an inhuman athlecticism and relentless abandon, MJ's shoes did too.
Up to this day the Air Jordan 1 is an absolute staple for sneakerheads and hypebeasts worldwide. All other 1980s Jordans became classics too. Especially the Air Jordan 3, a design by Tinker Hatfield, was the perfect combo of fashion and performance as it mixed premium materials and creative patterns, the infamous elephant print, and the top technology of these days, Air Max. MJ's early success, the Dunk Contest, several All Star selections and scoring records also contributed to special status of the Air Jordan series.
Jordan's opponents also played their parts in sneaker culture. Stars like Moses Malone and Charles Barkley were testimonials for Nike's Air Force line or represented other brands. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird for example both wore the Converse Weapon when they battled each other on the court, while Knicks big man Patrick Ewing and the NBA's all time leading scorer Kareem Abdul Jabbar donned adidas.
The connection between hip hop culture and basketball led to basketball shoes being rocked on the streets everywhere in the 1980s. That hasn't change up until today and the saying still goes “don't step on my Js!“