In 1984 Michael Jordan signed a 2,5 million dollar deal with Nike. However, Nike was not his first choice. MJ was actually more interested in signing a deal with Adidas or Converse, but neither one of the two very successful brands wanted to offer him a better deal.
In 1985 Nike released the Air Jordan 1, the only Jordan that had the Wings logo and the Swoosh. The shoe featured a very unconventional red/black upper and was immediately banned by the NBA. The league fined Michael $5000 for each game that he played in his first signature shoe. Nike paid all fines with big smiles on their faces, because the ban in combination with the legendary commercial created a massive hype.
A major part of the Air Jordan Series was designed by Tinker Hatfield, who was also responsible for the Air Jordan III. The shoe came out in 1988 and was the first AJ to feature the legendary Jumpman instead of the former Wings logo. Another big reason for the big success of the Air Jordan Series is Spike Lee. The film director and actor integrated the shoe in his movies like "Do the right thing" and "He got Game" and became a legend himself as Mars Blackmon in the Air Jordan Commercials.
In 1996 Jordan Brand became an independent sub-brand of Nike and released the Air Jordan XII, which was the first AJ without any Nike branding.