One Man and His Shoes review – the heartbreaking rise and fall of Air Jordans

This documentary about the extraordinary impact of Michael Jordan’s sneakers finds the tragic dimensions of its story a little late in the dayThis is a documentary that only seems to wake up to its own tragic significance once it is nearly all over. Most of the time it is a celebratory account of how in the 80s and 90s a uniquely talented African American athlete became a legend, finding staggering wealth and success in America’s white-controlled worlds of sports, pop culture and commerce. But then, in its final act, the film appears to suggest that it might have got the tone wrong and this could actually be a story of something scandalous in which the athlete and his corporate sponsors are themselves complicit.In the mid-80s, Michael Jordan broke through as a breathtakingly good basketball player with superstar power. We see the glorious footage of his amazing prowess as Jordan almost seems to float through the air and even supernaturally pause in mid-flight before each shot. Nike made Jordan the branded figurehead of a new line of sneakers, the Air Jordans, which were initially banned by the NBA because of their colour scheme – and naturally only created an outlaw glamour. Witty, quirky TV ads by Spike Lee took Air Jordan-mania to new levels of delirium. From modest beginnings, Jordan became very rich indeed. Continue reading…