The Iconic black and red Jordans, or “bred” is by far the most important Jordan colorway for several reasons. A close second, in my opinion, would have to then be the soft UNC blue and white, but that’s another topic for another day. It would almost be blasphemous if we didn’t begin this article with none other than the Jordan 1 “banned”.

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Jordan 1 ‘banned’ 

The Air Jordan 1 High was the first shoe ever to be adorned in black and red colors, and it caused mayhem once it was released. The year was 1985, and the world saw the debut of the first black and red Air Jordan 1, which forever altered how sneakers were worn, sold, and perceived. As a rookie for the Chicago Bulls at the time, Michael Jordan would go on to become the greatest basketball player of all time, and his sneakers would both pioneer and dominate the sneaker culture for years to come. The NBA planned to outlaw Michael Jordan’s black-and-red sneakers during his rookie season because there wasn’t enough white on them. M.J. and Nike had other plans in mind. He continued to wear the sneaker while dominating the 1984–1985 season while paying a $5000 fine per game. Paying that fee every game hurt, but it paid off since Nike covered the cost back when it wasn’t quite the financial powerhouse it is now. The act of defiance established the Jordan Brand’s legacy and set the stage for it to grow into the $2 billion+ business it is today.

As important as the Jordan 1 banned is, everything we know about this original Jordan 1 may be somewhat of a marketing tactic. Contrary to what Nike’s marketing legend has led you to believe over the years, the Air Jordan 1 in black and red was not the shoe that the NBA officially forbade. The Nike Air Ship, a shoe that is similar to the design of the Air Jordan 1, was the “banned” shoe in question, according to research conducted by Air Jordan aficionados. The NBA objected to Jordan wearing them in a black and red colorway during the 1984 preseason before the Air Jordan 1 was released. The NBA effectively forbade Michael from wearing them because it didn’t comply with the requirement that sneakers must be 51% white, but the following game, he did switch to a white-based version of the Air Ship. So it is only right that the Nike Airship gets an honorary mention in the history books as it paved the way for sneakers of all colors and shapes.

Jordan 4 ‘Breds’ 

Jordan 4 ‘Breds

The next Black and red Jordan in the lineup has to be the Air Jordan 4 “bred”. Michael Jordan wore the Tinker Hatfield-created Air Jordan 4 during his inaugural MVP campaign. In the same year’s NBA Playoffs, it was also memorably worn by MJ during “The Shot” over Craig Ehlo. The heel tab, insole, and outsole all bear the “Nike Air” logo. Additionally, it marked the debut of the Flight logo. It was only ten years later in 2008 that the Jordan Brand made the first-ever “Bred” Air Jordan 4 throwback decision. This pair retains the original “Nike Air” branding and is almost identical to the original from a decade earlier. Just four years later, the “Bred” 4 made a comeback without its Air Jordan 19 companion from the earlier release. The Jumpman branding that was first used on the 2008 version was carried over to the 2012 iteration. This pair, which was released before Jordan Brand started its Remastered initiative to enhance the quality of its retros, received criticism for its inferior construction materials. To commemorate the sneaker’s 30th birthday, Jordan Brand decided to finally restore the original “Nike Air” label on the “Bred” Air Jordan for the first time in twenty years. On Saturday, May 11, 2019, the shoe went on sale at a few locations throughout the world for $200. I have no doubt sneakerheads around the world are foaming at the mouth just waiting for the next ‘bred’ 4 release.

Sneakerheads were ecstatic to see a display of unreleased Off-WhiteTM x Nike/Jordan Brand sneakers when the late Virgil Abloh’s first solo show, “FIGURES OF SPEECH,” debuted back in 2019. An Off-WhiteTM x Air Jordan 4 in the well-known “Bred” hue was also a part of the collection. 

Despite numerous release rumors, it has now been confirmed that the sneaker will not be made available. The Off-WhiteTM x Air Jordan 4 “Bred” was merely manufactured as a sample prototype, a Jordan Brand spokesman recently told the media. Including that there are no intentions to sell Virgil Abloh’s design to the general public. Should this sneaker go on sale, I have no doubt it will bring the sneaker community to its knees, and fetch insane resale prices. 

Jordan 5’s 

Jordan 5 Red And Black

My personal favorite and the sneaker I’m willing to defend till the end of time as the greatest Jordan 5 of all time would be the Jordan 5. Not only is it the perfect sneaker with just the right amount of eye-catching design details that age so well and get better the more you wear them, but it is also a sneaker with a rich history in the Jordan series, the Jordan 5 has seen several black and red iterations each better than the next. It’s only right, to begin with, the OG, the Jordan 5 fire red, although not fully black and red thanks to the white upper, the ‘bred’ accents are highlighted perfectly. The Air Jordan line’s Fire Red colorway was proving to be a hit. The Fire Red OG hues are shared by the 3. 

The reflecting tongue Fire red 5 appears to have been retro’ed more frequently than the black tongue model. During the regular season, both colorways functioned as “home” and “away” alternates. 

The Fire Reds were the only ones of the original releases of the Fire Reds to have the number 23 sewn on the heel. Retro and lifestyle hues would eventually more frequently have the 23, although there is not a guarantee that every pair of 5s will feature one. 

Next up to represent the black and red Jordan 5 has to be the Toro bravo / raging bull Jordan 5. A shoe that debuted in 2009 as one component of the renowned DMP “Raging Bull” bundle. This AJ5 is one of the most popular designs from the Jumpman’s vast DMP (short for “Defining Moments Pack”) project in the 00s, often known as the “Toro Bravo”. The story behind the bright but beautiful sneaker was to honor Micheal Jordan’s unapologetic success during his tenure with the Chicago Bulls.

The shoe’s name is derived from the bright red suede used for the uppers. Black eyestays and translucent midfoot netting and throats add a light cooling touch. The reflective tongue, which is embroidered with a giant black Jumpman emblem, is another essential component. On the lateral heel, a tonal “23” hit with black trimming can be seen, while a second black Jumpman is situated on the back.

The collar and tongue trim are finished in black, and the lace toggles combine translucent and red plastic. The inside of the tongue has a fabric Air Jordan tag. Below, black midsoles with toothed white and red decorations are shown, with a clear Air Max unit at the heel and white and red detailing on the forefoot. The only difference from the original pair, which had outsoles made of simple translucent material, is the icy blue outsoles, which serve as the final touch. A well-known box provides one last nod to the initial release with a wood board print.

A recent release that can not be left out is the Air Jordan 5 x Gore-tex durable, stylish, waterproof, and bears the famous black and red when you think of it; what more could you ask for in a sneaker? 

The GORE-TEX-wrapped version has a primarily black finish and draws inspiration from the “Black/Metallic” hue of the sneaker. Except for the tongue, outsole, and TPU mesh underlays, the waterproof black top is almost fully blacked out. 

These extra components are reflective silver, as is customary for the Air Jordan 5 tongue, and a tone of semi-transparent off-white that remarkably resembles how the “iced-out” areas of the shoe appear over time. Why bother about yellowing when the job has already been completed for you? 

The red GORE-TEX branding at the heel, which matches the color of the Jordan insignia on the tongue and heels, is the shoe’s final decorative element. A shoe that will be by your side whilst you pioneer through whatever wet and cold conditions you might face. 

Jordan 11 ‘playoffs’ 

Jordan 11 ‘playoffs

A very, very close second to the 5s for me has to be the Jordan 11 (HIGH TOPS ONLY)! 

The Jordan 11 ‘bred’ / ‘playoffs’ shockingly almost didn’t happen; Nike had intended to end Michael Jordan’s trademark brand after the Air Jordan X due to his initial retirement from the NBA in 1993. Tinker Hatfield toiled away behind the scenes creating the Air Jordan XI in the hopes that Michael Jordan would one day return to the court, a gamble that paid off handsomely for the designer while everyone else at Nike believed the line was finished. 

Although the expression “made like a tank” is frequently used in footwear, the Jordan XI definitely pushed the durability threshold. The shoe was made to be tough, with an emphasis on withstanding the game-to-game wear and tear from MJ’s high level of play, even though its shiny patent leather and nylon may appear good. Hatfield experimented with several materials like Cordura nylon and patent leather, including a stiff carbon fiber shank for added stability.

 The sneaker was originally released in a black and white colorway which was deemed the Jordan 11 ‘Concords’, which, like the Jordan brand’s black and red color scheme, also received controversy for its lack of the Chicago bulls colors (black and red). It’s quite hilarious when you think of it, the lack of white in the ‘bred’ color scheme caused an uproar in the NBA when it was first debuted in the Jordan 1, but during his 1996 season, the AJ11 concord placed Jordan again under fire once again only this time for the lack of black and red in his sneakers. 

Jordan 12 ‘flu games’ 

Air Jordan 12 Flu Game Retro Official Images 1.jpg

A sneaker with an epic back story, the Jordan 12 ‘flu game’ belongs on any list of the greatest black and red Jordans. Jordan experienced a 103-degree temperature and severe flu-like symptoms on the morning of Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals. It was doubtful if Jordan would even have the necessary energy to suit up with the series tied at two games apiece and the clash traveling to a hostile environment in Utah for a pivotal fifth game. 

Jordan didn’t only enter the game; he also crushed Utah, scoring 38 points and grabbing 7 rebounds, including the game-winning three-pointer with 25 seconds remaining. Every time out, Jordan was snatching passes and running the fast break while being pumped full of fluids, wrapped in towels, and drenched in ice. With just a few seconds left, the game was all but over, and Jordan could hardly make it to the bench for a final timeout; Scottie Pippen had to support his brave teammate as they made their way to the huddle. The “Black/Red” Jordan XIIs that Michael Jordan was wearing on possibly the biggest gut-punch night of his Herculean career would later be nicknamed the “Flu Games” and become a part of sports mythology and sneaker slang for the following two decades. 

Despite having the “flu,” Jordan and the Bulls managed to win and grab a 3-2 series lead before finally defeating the Jazz in Game Six back in Chicago. While the “Flu Game” has gained notoriety over the past two decades since that memorable Utah night, Jordan has refuted some myths surrounding that iconic performance. In the ten-hour ESPN documentary The Last Dance, which details the last season of the Chicago Bulls dynasty in 1997–98, Jordan argues that he wasn’t actually sick with the flu but rather had a severe case of food poisoning. After staying up late the previous night and begging for food, the only alternative was to place an order from a neighboring pizzeria. Jordan consumed the pizza despite reservations from some of his friends and handlers, and the ramifications continued into the following day. Even if the “Food Poisoning” XIIs don’t exactly sound as catchy as the “Flu Game” XIIs do, that doesn’t change the fact that it was a heroic performance on a night when he and his team’s future as the NBA Champions were on the line. One of the most significant Air Jordans of all time, the XII is distinguished by the tale of that unforgettable night in Utah as well as its iconic style and history.

Air Jordan 14 ‘Last shot’ 

Air Jordan 14 ‘Last Shot

Aside from Jordans, the color red is also synonymous with none other than the premium sports car brand Ferrari, and the Jordan 14 merges sneakers and fast cars seamlessly 

Michael Jordan himself wore the Air Jordan 14 in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz, making it one of the most recognizable models in the extensive collection of Jordan Brand footwear. In his final game for the Chicago Bulls, Jordan had an incredible effort, scoring the go-ahead basket to seal the championship.  

The Air Jordan 14 is one of several Jordan Brand models with fascinating backstories. When Tinker Hatfield was developing the idea, he was particularly drawn to the Ferrari 550 M type. The rubber heel of the shoe was intended to resemble Pirelli tires, while the Jumpman emblem was intended to resemble the legendary Ferrari emblem. The shoe was created to mimic the sleek body package of the automobile. Long after the original 1998 release, in 2014, the AJ14 was given a new, all-red colorway nicknamed the “Ferrari,” which generated a lot of buzz.

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