On the heels of the Nike SB x Air Jordan 4 release, we’re looking back at the history of Nike SB x Jordan collaborations.
History Of Air Jordan Sneakers For Skateboarding
Skateboarding and basketball are two distinctly different sports outside of what it takes to participate in the activity as the cultures surrounding each are vastly separated. Counterculture and punk aesthetics have been associated with skateboarding while most look at basketball (at least the NBA) with a more family-friendly lens. That’s why the marriage of the two with Air Jordan sneakers has always been unique.
The skating community gravitated towards Air Jordan 1s during the original release period in the mid-80s due to its excellent grip and deep discounted price. Early skate videos and popular skateboarders were often spotted rocking pairs and this even went into the late 90s/early 2000s prior to the introduction of Nike SB as we know it today. Once the proper skateboarding division of Nike was created, it didn’t take too long for the fusion of Jordan Brand skateboarding to take place. Iterations of the Air Jordan like the “Phat” in the late 2000s beefed up the model and became popular with skaters, though an official Nike SB x Jordan release wouldn’t occur until 2014.
Since then, we’ve mostly seen the Air Jordan 1 get crafted in a skate-ready fashion (and a few P-Rod fusion sneakers) until rumors began regarding a possible Nike SB x Air Jordan 4. Confirmation of this high-coveted pair came later and we now know that there will be at least two colorways of the Jordan 4 (the first being the upcoming “Pine Green Sail”), so what better time to look back at the history of Nike SB x Air Jordans? Follow along below to see every previous link-up between Nike’s skate-ready division and Jordan Brand and make sure to give us a follow over on Twitter and download the Sole Retriever mobile app to stay updated on the latest releases, raffles, news, and more.
The latest entry in the Nike SB x Jordan Brand catalog is the upcoming Air Jordan 4 "Sail Pine Green. Teased back in 2022, the pair features a super supple leather upper with typical Jordan 4 details. Rubber portions, seen on the wings and heel tab, get a soft finish to allow for more durability against decktape, and tooling is reworked to give a better board feel. Arguably 2023’s most hyped sneaker release, the pair is set to release on March 17th at skate shops and on Nike SNKRS on March 21st.
Paul Rodriguez showcased his love for Jordan Brand and was the first person to make Nike SB x Jordan a reality, though it wasn't on a Jordan Brand model. For his first signature sneaker with Nike SB, P Rod fused AJ 3 elements, specifically the elephant print details, onto the mudguard and heel overlays. Other Jordan motifs include the Jumpman logo on the heel and on the tongue tag.
Although Craig Stecyk isn’t a true “skater,” his help in the industry earned him the ability to help introduce the world to the very first Nike SB x Jordan sneaker. Aptly placed on the Air Jordan 1 silhouette, the model received an all-over dark-toned leather upper with an iridescent finish accented by silver hits on the collar. Graffiti-style text on the heel spelled out “AJ ONE Nike SB” and branding on the tongue featured a hit of Nike SB as well. This a solid first entry into this highly-coveted and limited series of collaborations.
Famed skater Lance Mountain was most popular during the early parts of skateboarding history (the 1980s), so it only made sense for Jordan Brand to tackle their first foray into this world with the help of the California native. Taking on the Air Jordan 1, Lance crafted two colorways of the model with this “Black” variant featuring a wear-away upper that revealed a split “Royal” and “Chicago” colored set of sneakers. While not the very first SB collab (which we’ll get into momentarily) it still helped set the groundwork for future collaborations between the two.
Alongside the aforementioned “Black” colorway, Lance Mountain’s take on the AJ 1 also featured a “White” color scheme. Keeping the same wear-away details as the other pair in the pack, once skated or acetone-washed you’ll reveal a split color scheme with the “Royal” and “Bred” colorways taking over the right and left sneaker respectively.
Paul Rodriguez was able to bring Jordan Brand details to his signature series of Nike SBs on both the P Rod 9 Elite and the P Rod 1 elite. For his P Rod 9 Elite, we see the iconic elephant print from the AJ 3 appear on the overlays while the upper is dressed in various shades of grey.
Prior to the string of AJ 1 Low SBs, Jordan Brand introduced their first non-outside-party collaboration with the two-pack of Jordan 1 Retro High OG Defiant SBs. For this pair, the wear-away uppers first come in a grey-tone “light bone” which reveals layers of pink beneath the surface - muted along the overlays and vibrantly bright on the Swoosh and collars.
Probably the most popular of the two Defiant releases, the “LA to Chicago” colorway starts out in an LA Lakers-like purple and gold color scheme that slowly (or quickly if you use acetone) reveals a “Chicago” colorway below. Combining two iconic sports teams' colors and a hyped-up fusion of Nike SB and Jordan has made this a highly sought-after release.
Years past the original collaboration on the AJ 1 High, Jordan Brand decided to add new tooling and branding details to the AJ 1 Low. Alongside the collaborations with Lance Mountain and Eric Koston, Jordan Brand and Nike SBs inline “Midnight Navy” colorway featured midnight navy suede overlays mixed with white leather underlays that mimicked the CO.JP pair of AJ 1 Highs from 2001. Unique details appear on the toebox with a red Jumpman and on the tongue tag with Nike SB branding replacing the usual Jumpman or Nike Air embroidery.
One of the team riders for Nike SB, Eric Koston, got a crack at helping Jordan Brand and Nike Skateboarding with the Jordan 1 Low SB UNC. Taking the classic Tar Heels color scheme, the sneaker appears identical to a standard AJ 1 Low sans the SB branding and included Zoom Air on the insoles.
Following his work with Jordan Brand and Nike SB on one of the original mash-ups back in 2014, Lance Mountain again was tasked with crafting a colorway for the fusion of basketball and skate-ready sneakers. This time, Mountain utilized the AJ 1 Low and brought another wear-away upper with him. Covering the sneaker in a desert ore-shaded canvas, the sneaker would eventually reveal itself to be a split-colored “UNC” and “Royal” on the right and left shoes respectively.