Air Jordan is a brand of shoes and athletic clothing designed, owned, and produced by Nike and Michael Jordan for Nike's Jordan Brand subsidiary. The shoes, informally referred to in the plural as Air Jordans or simply J's, were first released for public consumption in 1985 after Michael Jordan himself wore them as a rookie in 1984, with new designs released annually thereafter.
Since its introduction into the sports shoe market, the Air Jordan evolved to the original basketball shoes to models for different uses, including training and casual shoes, including a retro line (re-releases of original Air Jordans I-XXIII). Air Jordan currently sponsors 19 active NBA players, including Chris Paul, Ray Allen, and Carmelo Anthony. They also endorse Nike Air Jordan products.
Michael Jeffrey Jordan (born February 17, 1963), also known by his initials, MJ, is an American former professional basketball player, entrepreneur, and majority owner and chairman of the Charlotte Bobcats. His biography on the National Basketball Association (NBA) website states, "By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time." Jordan was one of the most effectively marketed athletes of his generation and was considered instrumental in popularizing the NBA around the world in the 1980s and 1990s.
After a three-season career at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a member of the Tar Heels' national championship team in 1982, Jordan joined the NBA's Chicago Bulls in 1984. He quickly emerged as a league star, entertaining crowds with his prolific scoring. His leaping ability, illustrated by performing slam dunks from the free throw line in slam dunk contests, earned him the nicknames "Air Jordan" and "His Airness". He also gained a reputation for being one of the best defensive players in basketball. In 1991, he won his first NBA championship with the Bulls, and followed that achievement with titles in 1992 and 1993, securing a "three-peat". Although Jordan abruptly retired from basketball at the beginning of the 1993–94 NBA season to pursue a career in baseball, he rejoined the Bulls in 1995 and led them to three additional championships in 1996, 1997, and 1998, as well as an NBA-record 72 regular-season wins in the 1995–96 NBA season. Jordan retired for a second time in 1999, but returned for two more NBA seasons from 2001 to 2003 as a member of the Washington Wizards.