How an Iconic Michael Jordan Photo Immortalized the ‘Royal’ Air Jordan 1

Saturday’s “Royal” Air Jordan 1 is among the weekend’s most anticipated releases. Before the drop, Nike helped bring fans up to speed on the origins of the classic black-and-royal-blue colorway.

Although NBA legend Michael Jordan never wore the “Royal” Air Jordan 1s in an NBA game, he did lace them up for a promotional Nike photoshoot in 1985, the same year they were released.

According to Nike, it all began on a cold Oregon morning. The brand had tapped noted sports photographer Chuck Kuhn to shoot its newest signee: Jordan himself.

However, instead of wearing the infamous black-and-red “Banned” Air Jordan 1 to match the Chicago Bulls colors, the Hall of Famer opted for what Nike says are his personal favorite colors — royal blue and black. The result was an iconic portrait which later became a fan-favorite poster dubbed “Flight Guy.”

Air Jordan 1
The Air Jordan 1 “Royal” returns Saturday for $160.

As the story goes, the “Royal” Air Jordan 1 worn by Jordan in the portrait was actually the first Air Jordan sneaker made available to the public. The colorway was later released in 2001 and again in 2013 ahead of its latest retro iteration.

To commemorate the style’s return and pay homage to the 1985 portrait, Jordan Brand has also readied a “Flight Guy” colorway of the Air Jordan XXXI performance basketball sneaker.

Both the Air Jordan 1 ($160) and Air Jordan XXXI ($185) launch Saturday at 10 a.m. ET from nike.com/snkrs and can also be found in-store from select retailers.

Air Jordan XXXI
The Air Jordan XXXI “Royal” aka “Flight Guy.”
Michael Jordan
The Michael Jordan 1985 “Flight Guy” poster which inspired the brand’s new collection.
CREDIT: Nike/Chuck Kuhn
Air Jordan 1
The 2017 retro of the Air Jordan 1 “Royal” is the fourth time this style has been released since its 1985 debut.

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