Visual History: Michael Jordan, Spike Lee, and the Sneakers That Changed the World

Michael Jordan and Spike Lee have been connected at the hip ever since the late 1980s. It was then that Lee became part of the historic Nike commercials, taking a fictional character from his movies and turning him into something else entirely: a pitchman for what would become the greatest signature sneaker line of all time.

Before they exploded into some of the world’s most famous sneakers, Air Jordans were status symbols in inner cities, shoes that said something about you if you owned them. Because they personified cool, Lee often inserted them into his movies, first as an accessory and then later as an actual scene-stealer. If you had Air Jordans, whether we’re talking in the streets of New York or on the big screen, it meant that you were in-tune and trendy. Nike recognized that aspect and capitalized on it by turning Lee into a character in their sneaker ad campaigns. You have to understand the culture of the mid-80s to see how unprecedented that was. In 2015, using culture as a means of expressing how cool a certain shoe is is necessary. But in 1988, it was revolutionary.

This week at Champs Sports we saw the release of a new colorway of the Jordan Son of Mars, a White/Navy/Blue/Inf edition that has the sneaker fiends rejoicing. It’s a classic colorway take on a sneaker that’s directly celebrating the classics, as well as Lee’s involvement in the line almost from the start. To celebrate the unique partnership between Jordan, Lee, and Nike and the Jordan Brand as a whole, check out this Visual History: Michael Jordan, Spike Lee, and the Sneakers That Changed the World.


Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney