‘UNBANNED’ documentary at TriBeCa Film Festival uncovers riveting revelations about Air Jordan brand

BROOKLYN — In 1985 when Nike released the Air Jordan 1’s, the sneakers almost instantly became a household name.

Not only did they help launch the professional career of a young, unassuming basketball player named Michael Jordan, it propelled what would become a billion dollar industry.

From the controversial ban by the NBA to the marketing tactics that made the sneakers larger than life, it’s all dissected in the upcoming documentary “UNBANNED: The Legend Of AJ1” making its debut at the TriBeCa Film Festival this week.

“Of course Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player that’s ever lived and the shoes are really cool but there had to be more to it than that,” explained director Dexton Deboree.

PIX11 caught up with Deboree at what’s probably the most fitting venue for a chat – Jordanheads Brooklyn - a one-of-a-kind boutique in Bed-Stuy that sells new and vintage Jordans.

Deboree, who has produced a series of award-winning campaigns for the Jordan Brand and Nike, took on the task of telling the story we all thought we knew.

“Hearing the play-by-play of events from those that were actually really close to it and how it evolved, and how the ban may have or may have not gone down, I think it is quite the revelation,” Deboree said, referring to the never-before-told stories uncovered in the documentary.

The man himself Michael Jordan also makes an appearance in the film, revealing he had no idea what he signed up for when he joined forces with Nike over three decades ago.

“The shoe itself had a spirit of its own,” Deboree said. “It was put on this earth with a destiny and it was going to fulfill it no matter what.”

That message is one that resonates with Calvan Fowler the owner of this boutique which serves as an homage to Jordan.

“His legacy, what he did on the court, who he is, his persona and all that stuff – nothing competes,” Fowler said.

Deboree couldn’t agree more.

“Everybody has a story to tell around the Jordans - from the deepest fans to people who don’t even wanna be fans - [they all have] a connection to Jordan.

UNBANNED: The Legend of AJ1 makes its premiere at the TriBeCa Film Festival Friday night.

For more information, visit their site at https://www.tribecafilm.com/filmguide/unbanned-the-legend-of-aj1-2018