An In-Depth Visual Exploration of the Air Jordan Universe:
Today's topic is a bit different from the usual blog posts. We're going to hunt through a legacy that kicked off in 1984 and is still going strong after almost four decades. We're talking about none other than Michael Jordan, the NBA sensation turned iconic baller and sneaker brand magnate, both on and off the court. Michael Jordan has undeniably left an indelible mark on hearts and memories everywhere.
The High-Flying Legacy of a Basketball Icon:
Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, in 1963, Michael "Air" Jordan showcased innate athletic talents, securing basketball scholarships from various universities. Choosing the UNC basketball scholarship, he witnessed his career ascend to new heights. The year 1984 marked Jordan's entry into the NBA draft, where he clinched the 3rd overall pick for the Chicago Bulls. Renowned for his exceptional athleticism, he earned nicknames like "Air Jordan" and "His Airness." Beyond his on-court feats, Jordan transcended basketball, becoming a cultural icon and a central figure in the ongoing "GOAT" debate, regardless of one's allegiance to the Bulls.
Michael Jordan's Illustrious Basketball Journey:
For those who tuned in to "The Last Dance" on Netflix, Jordan's pivotal role in leading the Chicago Bulls to a double three-peat was apparent. The initial three-peat unfolded during the 1991–1993 seasons, and after triumphing in the 1992–1993 season, Jordan briefly stepped away from the game. Upon his return, the Bulls secured another three-peat from 1995 to 1998. Despite managerial tensions, Phil Jackson's departure after coaching in 1998, and Jordan's subsequent second retirement, his impact remained undeniable.
The Genesis of Air Jordan Collaboration:
Post-retirement, Jordan assumed the role of president of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards in 2000. However, the allure of the game proved irresistible, prompting him to come out of retirement once more in late 2001 to play for the Wizards. Finally, in 2003, at the age of 41, Jordan retired for the third and final time.
Now, turning our attention to the Air Jordan collaboration and its beginnings, it's impossible to delve into Jordan's basketball career without exploring the Nike deal. Let's shift our focus to the business side of this remarkable journey.
The Origin of The Silhouettes
Air Jordan I: Where It All Began
Starting with the iconic Air Jordan I in 1985. As a budding NBA star, Michael Jordan received star-worthy kicks from Nike, but the league banned and fined him $5,000 for wearing them. The banned pair we often hear about is the Nike Air Ship, not the Air Jordan I. Currently, the Air Jordan 1 is available in high, mid, and low cuts.
After losing the OG molds (or being stolen, rumors went wild there), Jordan Brand managed to find one of the molds and rebuild the kicks for the first time in 2004!
The Air Jordan III stands as a significant milestone, marking the debut of Tinker Hatfield's iconic designs for the Jordan line. Hatfield, who would go on to create 21 of the 34 Jordan silhouettes, showcased his talent with this release. Notably, the Air Jordan III introduced the Jumpman logo for the first time on these shoes.
Following the Air Jordan III, the Air Jordan IV solidified its place in history, notably worn by Michael Jordan during the iconic "The Shot" moment that secured a playoff victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Tinker Hatfield continued to show his abilities with the Air Jordan V, drawing inspiration from MJ's aggressive playing style. The shark-teeth design on the midsole is a distinctive feature of this edition.
Celebrating Jordan's first NBA Championship title, the Air Jordan VI took inspiration from MJ's sports car, introducing a car spoiler-like heel tab for ease of wear. Everything about MJ, including his kicks, exuded inspiration.
In 1992, the "Dream Team" dominated the Barcelona Olympics, prompting the release of the vibrant Air Jordan 7. Notably, these kicks were the first to be marketed independently from Nike basketball.
Michael Jordan sported the Air Jordan VIII, the last pair before his initial retirement. It witnessed the Chicago Bulls securing their place among the elite, becoming the third team in history to clinch three consecutive titles.
After MJ's first retirement and introduction in baseball, the Air Jordan 9 was born. Despite an exile from basketball, the kicks kept coming, showcasing a brand-new design.
Designed by Tinker Hatfield during MJ's retirement, the Air Jordan 10 paid tribute to Jordan's relatively short career. However, Michael Jordan returned to wear this pair when "he was back" during the 1994-95 season.
Known for its elegance, the Air Jordan 11 made a noticable appearance as Jordan returned to the court, aiming for his fourth ring. The patent leather design still resonates as a favorite among sneakerheads.
In the 1996-97 season, Jordan led his team to win their fifth title, setting the stage for a second three-peat. The Air Jordan 12's futuristic build and timeless style made it suitable for both on and off-court wear.
Distinguished by its "Black Cat" nickname, the Air Jordan 13, designed by Tinker Hatfield, embodied MJ's stealth and speed. Notably, Jordan wore them during the 1997-98 season en route to their sixth title.
Dubbed "The Last One," the Air Jordan 14 marked the conclusion of Jordan's time with the Chicago Bulls. Despite Tinker Hatfield's request for MJ not to wear the sample kicks, Jordan's endorsement made these shoes legendary.
With Jordan's second retirement, the Air Jordan 15 took the line in a new direction, paying homage to the X-15 fighter jet. The kicks featured a tongue expressive of Jordan's dunk and a Kevlar fiber upper for high performance and protection.
A departure from Tinker Hatfield's designs, the Air Jordan 16, designed by Wilson Smith, merged business and ball life. The magnetic shroud added a formal touch, which was removable.
The return of Jordan to the game sparked the creation of the Air Jordan 17, drawing inspiration from his improvisation skills, love for Jazz, and his Aston Martin. It was a luxurious release, accompanied by a metal briefcase and CD-ROM.
As Jordan bid farewell on April 16, 2003, the Air Jordan 18 became the last pair worn by His Airness on the court. Inspired by sports cars, the OG AJ 18 "Black Royal" colorway included a driver's manual, brush, and towel.
Designed for flight, the Air Jordan 19 drew inspiration from the Black Mamba before Kobe Bryant adopted the nickname. The Tech-Flex upper provided added flexibility.
With Tinker Hatfield's return, the Air Jordan 20 celebrated 20 years of the iconic brand, featuring symbols on the upper representing Michael Jordan's legendary career.
Crafted with premium leather and carbon fiber, the Air Jordan 21 revealed a hidden message under black light, adding a touch to these special agent-worthy kicks.
Deviating from the "fight or flight" mode, the Air Jordan 22 embraced both concepts. Inspired by the F-22 Raptor fighter jet, the kicks featured radar-like zigzag stitching and the first titanium shank plate, symbolizing Titanium's atomic number, 22.Top of Form
Celebrating the 23rd year of the legendary legacy, the Air Jordan 23 embodied Michael Jordan's DNA with details. The stitching mirrored DNA, Jordan's fingerprint graced the tongue and outsole, and his autograph adorned the toe. A remarkable feature was its claim as the world's first sustainable basketball shoe.
Marking the first use of the release year as its name, the Air Jordan 2009's upper resembled a fencing uniform, symbolizing Michael Jordan's view of one-on-one defense to fencing. It also embraced the Considered Design initiative.
The Air Jordan 2010's transparent TPU circular panels paid homage to MJ's ability to see through opponents. Virgil Abloh drew inspiration from this design for his Air Jordan 5. The midsole concealed Jordan's quote on failure, emphasizing its significance.
Offering a glimpse into customizable Jordans, the AJ 2011 featured interchangeable midsoles for convenience. Players could choose between blue Zoom Air Units for quickness and red Air Units for explosive play.
In 2012, Air Jordans embraced zoot suits with the Air Jordan 2012, featuring three different midsole options (Quick, Air, Explosive) for personalized gameplay suited to individual preferences.
Air Jordan 28 hid a lightweight and responsive shoe beneath a zip-up boot-like casing. Tinker Hatfield aimed to revolutionize both the look and performance of basketball kicks.
These shoes had 100% woven upper, the Air Jordan 29 surpassed its predecessors in lightness. The redesigned Flight Plate connecting the forefoot and heel elevated responsiveness and cushioning.
Tinker Hatfield's innovation continued with the Air Jordan 30, transforming the "XXX" into a basketball net on the upper. Stars represented MJ's extraordinary talents, while the tongues featured the African and North American continents.
A modern take on the OG Air Jordan I, the Air Jordan 31 integrated the Jordan Wings logo with the Swoosh and Jumpman. The sole paid homage to the first AJI Bred colorway, with "BANNED" inscribed, offering a lightweight design.
Drawing inspiration from the legendary Air Jordan II, the AJ32 merged premium materials with modern technology. Tate Kuerbis achieved a balance of style and performance, presenting the kicks in both high and low cuts.
The Air Jordan 33 borrowed details from space flight suits. Featuring a Flight Speed Plate and Zoom Air Unit for propulsion, the Fast Fit system ensured ultimate support, marking a new era of innovation.
Incorporating elements from the 33 previous models, the Air Jordan 34 excelled in control, responsiveness, and lightness. Visible Zoom Air technology debuted, providing athletes with stability while soaring high.
Amid the challenges of 2020, Jordan Brand launched the Air Jordan 35. Merging modern tech with inspiration from the AJ5, the kicks offered a mashup of past and present, showcasing the resilience of the sneaker industry.
Continuing the legacy into 2021, the Air Jordan 36 maintained similarities with its predecessor, the AJ35. With technical improvements like the new Eclipse 3.0 plate and nods to Russel Westbrook's sneakers, the silhouette embraced familiar yet innovative elements.
Air Jordan 37 brought a fresh perspective to the game. Drawing inspiration from the Jordan 7, it introduced geometrical details and marked the return of the carbon shank, creating a successful blend of speed and flight.
Behind the Scenes: The Best Jordan's Most Hyped Sneakers
Air Jordan 12 "Flu Game"
Actions speak louder than words, and Michael Jordan exemplified this on June 11, 1997, when he played even after having flu-like symptoms, scoring an impressive 38 points against the Utah Jazz. Re-released in 2003, 2009, and 2016, the "Flu Game" 12 remains one of the most iconic red Jordans.
Air Jordan 1 "Shattered Backboard"
In 1986, during an exhibition game in Italy, Jordan unleashed a powerful dunk that shattered the backboard, giving birth to the "Shattered Backboard" colorway. The black and orange had similarities with the uniform worn by His Airness during the game, creating a unique Air Jordan 1 story.
Air Jordan 1 "Royal Blue"
Although never gracing the court on Jordan's feet, the "Royal Blue" Air Jordan 1 became an iconic colorway from the OG 1985 lineup. Paired with a matching black and blue flight suit, Jordan sported this outfit on the deck of a ship during the Hare Jordan commercial. Restocked several times, a 2020 rework continued the legacy.
Air Jordan 11 "Space Jam"
Forever linked with the 1996 movie Space Jam, the Air Jordan 11 "Space Jam" also made an appearance during the 1995 playoffs. Restocked in 2017, the 2017 version marked Nike's most successful sneaker release.
Air Jordan 11 "Bred"
Worn during Jordan's fourth championship win, the Air Jordan 11 "Bred" symbolized a bittersweet moment after his father's tragic death. This victory propelled the Bulls toward a second three-peat.
How to Wear Your Jordans
With 34 different silhouettes and countless colorways, Air Jordans offer versatile styling options. From casual to formal to athletic looks, high, mid, and low-top options cater to diverse preferences.
How to Take Care of Your Air Jordans
You can follow the following steps to take care of Your Air Jordans.
- Begin by eliminating any visible stains or dirt from your shoelaces using a brush.
- Take a bucket filled with water and add a minimal amount of bleach (approximately 3 tablespoons). It's advisable to wear gloves during this process.
- Steers clear of bleach. Instead, immerse the laces in a bucket of water with a small amount of liquid soap, stirring them gently.
- Allow the laces to air dry. Ensure they are completely dry before re-lacing your sneakers.
- Remove the insoles and give them a breath of fresh air.
- Employ a gentle brush to eliminate dirt and other particles.
- Craft a cleaning solution by blending a few drops of dishwashing liquid or cleaning serum into a bucket of hot water.
- Dip the soft brush into the solution and clean the insoles using a circular motion.
- Wipe off any residual soap with a cloth.
- Allow the insoles to air dry thoroughly.
- Begin by stuffing your Jordans with a balled-up cloth to maintain their shape.
- Mix cool water with a sneaker-cleaning serum in a bowl.
- Employ a soft brush to delicately clean the uppers with the cleaning solution, ensuring the leather remains unharmed. Use circular motions for optimal cleaning.
- Scrub the midsoles with a hard brush to eliminate all traces of dirt.
- Remix the cool water-cleaning.
- Begin with a surface-level cleaning use a hard brush to eliminate visible dirt.
- For stubborn dirt filled in the cracks, clean the hard brush and address each one to ensure thorough cleaning.
The Last Dance
Netflix and ESPN documentary, "The Last Dance," became a global phenomenon, not just in the sports world but also influencing the sneaker industry. The impact of the series extended beyond the court, leaving an indelible mark on the Air Jordan legacy.
The Future of Air Jordan in the Industry
While earlier silhouettes always generate hype, releases' popularity influences resale value. Exclusive pairs, popular collaborations, and sentimental editions hold high aftermarket value. Jordan Brand's continuous collaborations with athletes, celebrities, and artists ensure its lasting presence. As the industry evolves post-Adidas and Kanye West's separation, Air Jordan remains a formidable force, securing their position with diversity and compelling campaigns. Michael Jordan's basketball legacy ensures the enduring legacy of Air Jordan sneakers.
FAQS Of Air Jordan
What is the origin of the Air Jordan legacy?
The Air Jordan legacy originated in 1984 when Michael Jordan, a rookie, entered the NBA and subsequently became a cultural and sneaker icon.
When did the collaboration between Michael Jordan and Nike begin?
The collaboration began with the release of the Air Jordan I in 1985, marking the beginning of a legendary partnership that revolutionized the sneaker industry.
What is the story behind the "Flu Game" Air Jordan 12?
The "Flu Game" refers to the 1997 NBA Finals where Michael Jordan played with flu-like symptoms and still scored 38 points.
What impact did "The Last Dance" documentary have on the Air Jordan legacy?
"The Last Dance" became a global phenomenon, influencing not only the sports world but also leaving a long-lasting impact on the Air Jordan legacy, creating more interest in the brand.
Where can I buy Air Jordan?
Find the latest Air Jordan releases and classic styles at Tops And Bottoms. From the Air Jordan 1 to the newest Air Jordan models, we have you covered with a wide range of sizes and styles. Shop now and step up your sneaker game with the iconic Air Jordan brand.