HipHopWired Featured Video

Perhaps no person outside of Michael Jordan himself has affected the narrative of the Air Jordan sneaker like Spike Lee‘s “Mars Blackmon.” His affectionate inquiries, chanting “Is it the shoes?” have been mimicked by brand aficionados for decades, outliving the character in the process.

Lee recently sat down with hosts of Complex TV’s Quickstrike Russ Bengston and DJ Clark Kent to discuss how he developed a relationship with Nike, Blackmon’s integral role in Air Jordan’s success, and most entertainingly his inspiration for the legendary character.

“Well Mars Blackmon is just the b-boys I was seeing around that time,” explained Lee. “She’s Got To Have It came out way back in 1986, but I wrote it the summer of 1985. And so, we’re talking about the beginning of Hip-Hop, b-boys, and so. Mars had the gold chain and had to be rocking your Jordans.”

Even with the concept down, Lee says he had issues naming the character. As luck would have it, a random conversation with grandmother led him to the name “Mars.”

Fast forward over 20 years, and the Blackmon now has inspired two shoes in the Spi’zike and The Son of Mars. Hear the legendary director speak in depth behind the history below.

Photo: Complex TV