How Air Jordans changed the world

Dexton Deboree wasn’t prepared for all the emotions that poured forth when he started making a film about a sneaker.

The Air Jordan 1 — the red and black, high-top sneaker Nike made for Michael Jordan’s rookie season with the Chicago Bulls — caused a stir in the buttoned-up NBA the instant it came out, in 1984. But it was the gradual, yet titanic, way the shoe enthralled a diverse American society that inspired “Unbanned: The Legend of AJ1,” premiering Friday at the Tribeca Film Festival.

“Every time I would interview somebody, I would learn about [another fan] the brand didn’t mention, that other people had never mentioned, that I had never found anywhere,” Deboree, the film’s 44-year-old writer/director, tells The Post. “It ended up being like a rabbit hole of treasures that I found along the way.”

The story of the sneaker pivots on a controversy that made it a legend: whether or not the NBA, under then-Commissioner David Stern, banned Jordan from wearing the statement shoe under the league’s vanilla style code. In the film, Stern denies doing so, but Nike executives and Air Jordan creators recall their panicked reaction to the announcement in detail.

What really matters, Deboree says, is the rebellion Jordan’s individualism unlocked in generations searching for their voice. He interviewed 62 people — including Carmelo Anthony, Spike Lee, Mark Wahlberg and other athletes, actors, designers and hip-hop artists — and was surprised by how passionately each of them spoke about their AJ1 past.

“It’s a lifestyle, it’s a culture,” says DJ Khaled. “It’s powerful.”

Months into filming, Deboree realized the counter-culture movement the AJ1 symbolized, and its relevance to today’s political climate.

“Over the course of that telling, modern events started really echoing,” he says. “It was suddenly like we could be talking about the ’80s or we could be talking about today.”

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