Today, August 25th, marks the 35th anniversary of the date Michael Jordan shattered a glass backboard in an Italian exhibition game following his Rookie of the Year NBA season in 1985. If you're reading this, you more than likely already know at least some of the story behind the infamous dunk. But there's also a good chance that the only reason you know anything about it—and why we even can call it "infamous" now—is because of the "Shattered Backboard" series of Air Jordan 1 colorways.
Before the Air Jordan 1 High "Shattered Backboard" released in 2015, the moment that the shoe was inspired by itself was just an obscure footnote in Michael Jordan's basketball history. After the hype of the black-and-orange colorway hit, the story of the Shattered Backboard game was amplified across the world like never before. Suddenly everybody knew about the day Jordan suited up in Stefanel Trieste's black-and-orange uniform for an exhibition game against fellow Italian Liga A team Snaidero Caserta and proceeded to score 30 points and shatter the backboard after a soaring, powerful dunk. OK, so maybe you didn't know all those details, but after the coveted Air Jordan 1 arrived in 2015, you at least knew Jordan once shattered a backboard in Italy.
After the success of the initial "Shattered Backboard" colorway, Jordan Brand has since dropped multiple sequel black-and-orange looks for the Air Jordan 1 in its high, mid, and low forms. As a result, "Shattered Backboard" has become one of the brand's most iconic color schemes in only five short years. Today, we'll sort out all of the many "Shattered Backboard" colorways, while also taking a look at footage of the '85 exhibition game itself, and even the actual pair of Jordan 1s he wore that fateful day. Here's the complete history of the "Shattered Backboard" Air Jordan 1.
The best place to start with the history of the "Shattered Backboard" Air Jordan 1 is naturally the footage of the backboard-shattering dunk in question from August 25, 1985 in Trieste, Italy. Watch the impressive slam above, and if you're interested, find more footage from the game here.
The Actual Pair
The term "Shattered Backboard" has been in the headlines lately—even in mainstream news, not just the sneaker blogs. That's thanks to the actual pair of shoes Jordan wore that day being included in the "Original Air" auction, our own partnership with auction house Christie's on a mind-blowing collection of game-worn and player exclusive shoes from Jordan's Chicago Bulls era. You may have noticed in the video footage that Jordan was wearing the Air Jordan 1 "Chicago" for the exhibition game. The pair pictured above is that exact pair, complete with a shard of glass still embedded in the rubber sole of the left shoe. The one-of-a-kind pair shattered the record for most valuable sneaker ever sold when the auction closed on August 13th for an astonishing $615,000.
This incredible pair was sourced from Gianni Bertolitti, the captain of the Stefanel team, who was given the shoes by Jordan after the game.
The initial Air Jordan 1 High "Shattered Backboard" released on June 27, 2015. It's hard to believe it now, but when it first dropped, many collectors passed on picking up a pair. For whatever reason, hype slowly but surely built up behind it, and eventually all those who slept on a pair were certainly regretful that they did. Today it stands as one of the most sought-after and valuable non-original colorways in the entire Air Jordan retro line.
One year later Jordan Brand brought back the concept on the "Reverse Shattered Backboard" Jordan 1, which, as its name implies, more or less reverses the color blocking of the black, orange, and red leather panels. The result is actually close in appearance to the original "Chicago" colorway that Jordan wore during the dunk, just with orange replacing red.
In 2018 Jordan Brand brought back the original "Shattered Backboard" look, but this time in a luxurious satin-accented construction just for women. The embroidered Swooshes and translucent orange outsole were additional special touches.
The theme was revisited once again in fall 2019 for this third edition of the "Shattered Backboard" colorway on the Jordan 1 High. This unique edition featured a crinkled patent leather upper in black and orange with a cream-colored outsole for a vintage effect.
In 2019 the colorway also appeared on the Air Jordan 1 Low. The design features the original color block, but with bonus patent leather Swooshes.
To date, the "Shattered Backboard" saga ends with this Air Jordan 1 Mid. We definitely wouldn't bet against the black, orange, and white color palette returning to the Air Jordan 1 again.