Browsing the "Michael Jordan Through The Years" Tag
March 10th, 2011 by John Kim
The post-Michael Jordan era brought the NBA back to its earlier roots. The game wasn’t dominated by slashing guards, but instead by big-men of two kinds – the hulking behemoth and the flawless fundamentalist. In 1999, the San Antonio Spurs, led by second-year Center Tim Duncan, won the NBA Title during a lockout-shortened season, and the following year, the Lakers won its first title in eleven seasons with Shaquille O’neal and young and talented guard Kobe Bryant – a player many deemed to be the ‘next Michael Jordan’. By Summer of 2001, the Lakers had repeated as NBA Champs, but the news-wire was buzzing not because of a budding dynasty in Los Angeles. The ‘third coming’ of Michael Jordan, who hinted at a possible come-back during the earlier parts of the year, had Jordan fans and the NBA at the edge of their seats, and on September 25th, 2001, Michael’s love for the game brought him out of retirement for the second time. Sparked by close friend Mario Lemieux’s return to hockey in the winter of 2000, Jordan decided to lace up his shoes for the team he served as President of Basketball Operations and debuted against the New York Knicks on October 30th, 2001.
For a short period of the 2001-02 pre-season and regular season, Michael Jordan wore the Air Jordan XVI; the shoe marked a brand new era for Jordan Brand, as it was the first shoe since the Air Jordan II that was not designed by Tinker Hatfield. Instead, it was Nike’s Senior Footwear Designer Wilson Smith who was at the helm or this daunting task. One of the more interesting notes about the Air Jordan XVI was Smith’s decision to pay tribute to past Air Jordan designs – particularly the Air Jordan III, V, and XI. The bottom sole was designed after the golf course, which referenced Michael’s love for the sport and his celebrity golf tournament charity held in the Bahamas. The XVI was also the first Air Jordan shoe to feature a removable upper gaiter, which gave the shoe a dual personality – a lifestyle/casual shoe with the shroud, an athletic performance shoe without.
The Air Jordan XVI was released in a classic Chicago Bulls colorway of Black/Varsity Red as well as a White/Midnight Navy colorway to closely match the Wizards uniforms. A luxurious ‘Cherrywood’ colorway was also introduced in mid-2001, followed by a Light Ginger colorway in November – the only Air Jordan XVI colorway worn by Michael during a game. Two low-top versions of the Air Jordan XVI in White/Varsity Red and Black/Metallic Silver also made its way to shelves, but did not feature the signature removable gaiter that made the shoe supremely distinct from the rest of the Air Jordan line. While Michael did not wear the XVI for long, the shoe was represented well by Jordan Brand athletes Ray Allen, Michael Finley, and Eddie Jones, and was also worn by Jason Kidd and Chris Webber. Continue reading for a full summary of the Air Jordan XVI, and stay tuned to Sneaker News for the next installment of Michael Jordan Through The Years.
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March 3rd, 2011 by John Kim
The 1998-99 season was a bonafide new ‘era’ in the NBA. A player lockout shortened the season by 32 games, and the Chicago Bulls were without Scottie Pippen, without Phil Jackson, without Dennis Rodman, and of course, without Michael Jordan. Michael officially announced his (second) retirement from the Chicago Bulls on January 13th, 1999. His final list of accomplishments was one not that could not be matched by 10 other All-Stars of that time; six NBA championships, 10 scoring titles, five MVPs, two Olympic Gold Medals, twenty-five game-winning shots – most notably the ‘Last Shot’ during Game 6 of the ’98 Finals or his floating jumper over the Cavaliers in ’90. Michael Jordan was one part comic-book super-hero; his incredible aerial maneuvers, electric aura, and spine-tingling presence made Jordan a caped crusader than a uniformed and coached athlete, but his emotions stemming from his father’s tragic death, his alleged gambling troubles, and the occasional loss reminded us the ‘Air Jordan’ was in fact human.
With Jordan’s retirement, the NBA horizon was entirely anew; the championship was any team’s to be had, and a gaping vacancy of the NBA throne was quite clear. But Michael poignantly and bluntly stated in his Hall of Fame Induction Speech, “Don’t look for the next Michael Jordan. There won’t be another Michael Jordan.” That statement is true any way you view it through the looking glass; there won’t be a dominant like figure like Michael ever again, but the game has changed and greatness can thrive elsewhere – in team play, in leadership, in defense, and so on. Michael and Jordan Brand teamed up to find greatness in other sports as well as basketball, pointing at Ray Allen, the talented shooting guard of the Milwaukee Bucks, Randy Moss, the lightning-fast wide receiver of the Minnesota Vikings, and Derek Jeter, the playoff performer and young leader of the New York Yankees. In those three individuals, Michael saw a reflection of his own greatness, and the four athletes along with Mary J. Blige’s ‘Overjoyed’ single were the central figures of Jordan Brand’s marketing campaign for the Air Jordan XV.
The Air Jordan XV was the first Air Jordan shoe to debut during Michael’s retirement. It was designed by Tinker Hatfield and inspired by the X-15 Aircraft, a NASA-developed futuristic rocket plane. The protruding tongue was a tribute to Michael’s signature habit of sticking out his tongue during games, and the woven kevlar upper and unique rubberized heel added futuristic notions to the shoe. The Air Jordan XV was also a significant milestone in the Air Jordan Legacy at the time, as Tinker Hatfield, the mastermind behind the Air Jordan series from the III, would call the XV his final Air Jordan shoe. The XV released in four different colorways alongside three low-top versions and an all-new ‘moc’ slip-on version – something useful for Michael now that he would spend his time lounging around rather than running up and down the court. The Air Jordan XV joins the Air Jordan IX as the only two Air Jordan shoes never to be worn by Michael (up to that point), but Air Jordans remained high in popularity despite Michael hanging it up for good. Continue reading for a recap of the Air Jordan XV and Michael’s retirement from the Bulls, and stay tuned to Sneaker News for the next segment of Michael Jordan Through The Years.
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February 24th, 2011 by John Kim
The last time Michael Jordan retired, he was at the top of his game, the Bulls were undoubtedly the best team in the entire league, and the retirement itself came as a big surprise. In 1998, the circumstances were just a bit different. Their NBA Finals opponent was once again the Utah Jazz, a better Utah Jazz, the Bulls did not have the best record in the league, and Jordan’s looming retirement began to weigh down on the city of Chicago and its beloved Bulls. Even Dennis Rodman, Chicago’s primary counter to Karl Malone, was a bit distracted with his participation in pro-wrestling activities and such. Karl Malone, John Stockton and Co. already defeated the Bulls both times during the regular season, and followed that up with a Game 1 win in their home court. The outlook, while not bleak, did have Bulls fans on the edge of their seats, wondering if the flame had burned too quickly. Is this the way Michael Jordan would say goodbye to league?
The answer was simply ‘No’. Jordan and the Bulls defeated the Utah Jazz in three straight games, setting up Game 5 in the United Center for a possible Home-town celebration of the Bulls’ sixth NBA Championship and final wave good-bye to the greatest player of all-time. For the second half of that game, Michael Jordan debuted the Air Jordan XIV, a super-sexy design that made his feet look like miniature sports cars. The Jazz managed to defeat the Bulls during the game, shifting the series and momentum back to Utah; Home-court advantage and undoubtedly the loudest crowd in sports history would definitely help the Jazz play the right notes and stay on key. With just 36 seconds left and up by one, the Utah Jazz were on their way to sealing the game and forcing a decisive Game 7. The crowd was roaring and the ball was thrown into the hands of Karl Malone, only to be adroitly stolen by Michael Jordan, one of the best defensive guards and pickpockets of all time. Jordan, with the ball in hand, dribbled up the court with an eerie calm, with a noticeable purpose. Something amazing was about to happen.
By the time Michael reached halfcourt, every conscious being in the building had a sense of what was about to happen. It was a strange feeling of deja-vu, or something like a dream sequence occurring in real life, a quick moment of mental disarray that leaves you with goosebumps and a stupefied demeanor. For Utah fans, it was a nightmare realized; the prior possession, Jordan scored a bucket in less than four seconds to cut the deficit to one, and by the time he had the ball in his hands, the game was lost. The Delta Center inhabitants and the millions of viewers around the world saw Michael Jordan drive right. They saw him bring the ball back to his left with a crossover. They saw the lone defender, Bryon Russell, fall his knees. They saw Michael Jordan, slightly to the left of the top of the key, sink a 20-foot jumper with perfect form, hitting nothing but the bottom of the net. It was Jordan’s ‘Last Shot, the one that put the Bulls ahead by one point with 5.2 seconds to go. It was the shot that gave Michael Jordan’s sixth championship. It was the shot the defined a legend.
The Air Jordan XIV was, once again, designed by Tinker Hatfield. Inspired by Jordan’s love for Italian cars – the Ferrari 550 Maranello to be specific – the Air Jordan XIV was Tinker Hatfield’s twelfth straight design of the Air Jordan. Tinker mentioned that with each model, the stories and muses behind each design got more deeper and involved into Michael’s life. The construction of the Air Jordan XIV was also unlike any other; it featured thinner materials on the upper, a low-profile Zoom Air cushion, and a new silhouette to give that true form-fitting appearance. Michael only wore the Black/Red colorway in a game, but had been spotted outside the basketball court with other colorways. After a successful release of Mid and Low-top versions in 1998 and 1999, the Air Jordan XIV was once again re-released in 2005 and 2006 in a number of colorways both new and old, and again in 2008 as part of the Collezione Package. Continue reading for a recap of Michael Jordan and the Air Jordan XIV and stay tuned to Sneaker News for the next installment of Michael Jordan Throught The Years.
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February 17th, 2011 by John Kim
The last hurrah? Michael Jordan just seems to get better with age, and after leading the Chicago Bulls to 72 and 69 wins in the previous two seasons while capturing numerous individual awards, Michael at age 34-35 was as good as any other. Other NBA players are usually well into their decline at that age, but Mike not only stayed afloat, he was the buoy that kept the entire league above water with his exciting play. Leading the Chicago Bulls to a 62-win season and capturing his sixth NBA Championship (while earning the MVP trifecta), Michael Jordan capped off a legendary Bulls career going out on top – again. But the 1997-98 NBA season was a milestone era for Michael off the court as well, as Jordan Brand branched off from Nike and became its own independent brand.
The Air Jordan XIII was once again designed by Tinker Hatfield, who used the black panther as the inspiration behind the design. It was an alarmingly serendipitous circumstance because just two years prior to the Air Jordan XIII’s creation, Michael earned the nickname ‘Black Cat’. Call it coincidence – we’ll call it the the unification of two great minds. Alongside the Air Jordan XIII were Jordan Brand’s first non-Legacy designs under the Team Jordan umbrella. Jordan Brand also brought on its first team of NBA athletes, which included Ray Allen, Vin Baker, Michael Finley, Derek Anderson, Eddie Jones, and more. The highlight of the marketing campaign for the Air Jordan XIII was of Michael Jordan the ‘CEO’, as the net worth of his name and everything tied to it was valued at over $10 billion.
So what colorways did Michael exactly wear? For the regular season, he wore the White/Black and White/Red for Home and Away, and introduced a Black/White rendition for the 1998 NBA All-Star Game. He would later wear that colorway during the 1998 NBA Playoffs, rotating them with the Black/Red as well as low-top PEs. In 2004, the Air Jordan XIII was re-issued in a number of colorways new and old, and again in 2010/2011. In 2010, the Air Jordan XIII was the third selection of the Jordan Brand Bin 23 Collection, a colorway that featured earthy brown and red tones. The Air Jordan XIII is considered as a favorite by many Jordan fans, but the 1997-98 NBA Season will be remembered for two different Air Jordan shoes. The first being the Air Jordan 1, which Michael wore during his last game at Madison Square Garden, and the second being an all-new design for his last game as a Chicago Bull. Continue reading for a complete visual recap of Michael Jordan and the Air Jordan XIII and stay tuned to Sneaker News for the next installment of Michael Jordan Through The Years.
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February 10th, 2011 by John Kim
The ’95-’96 Season for the Chicago Bulls was one for the record books; Michael Jordan led his team to an astounding 72-10 regular season record and an NBA Championship, earning the MVP trifecta from the regular season, All-Star Game, and NBA Finals. It also served as an astounding spotlight for the Air Jordan XI, which today is still attributed to Jordan’s winningest and most successful moments. Saying the previous NBA season was a tough act to follow is as much of a redundant statement as one can possibly be, but Jordan’s perpetual greatness has a tendency to leave us at a loss for words. The ’96-’97 NBA Season was just another chapter in the greatest story in NBA history, as Michael led the Bulls to its fifth NBA Title and 69 regular season wins, dismantling league MVP Karl Malone and the Utah Jazz in six games.
Despite his clear dominance over the entire league, some critics noted that Jordan was perhaps on the decline, as most star players do around their early 30′s. At age 33, Michael proved the detractors wrong while defiantly stating “Tell me I can no longer fly. I want you to.” and back up his words with another MVP-worthy campaign, a triple-double performance at the All-Star Game, and league scoring title while being named one of the best defensive players in the league. A June meeting with Karl Malone and the Utah Jazz was projected to be Michael’s toughest Finals opponent yet; Michael again quieted the critics by hitting a game-winning buzzer-beater in Game 1 and scoring 38-points in a legendary performance in a pivotal Game 5, one in which Michael put his team on his back while being hampered by a terrible flu. Game 5 of the ’97 Finals is now referred to as the ‘Flu Game’, one in which Michael displayed an ethereal power and greatness on the court while appearing terribly human and physically devastated on the sideline.
During the ’96-’97 NBA Season, Michael showcased the Air Jordan XII; it was designed once again by Tinker Hatfield, who drew inspiration from Misshoki (the Japanese flag) and the Rising Sun as well as a 19th-century woman’s dress boot. The Air Jordan XII featured unique stitching patterns on the upper, a reptilian material on the mudguard, gold-plated lace-eyelets, and full-length Zoom Air cushioning – a first for the Air Jordan. Five original colorways of the Air Jordan XII exist, with the most recognizable being the Black/Varsity Red colorway that Jordan wore during the historic ‘Flu Game’. Other’s included a Black/White colorway, which Michael wore during the Playoffs and the All-Star Game, a White/Red colorway, which was worn during the regular season, and a fourth pair, given a ‘Taxi’ moniker for its use of Taxi Yellow on the upper. A fifth Obsidian/White pair was also released, but was never worn by Michael in a game. The most notable Retro release of the Air Jordan XII was in fact the Black/Red ‘Flu Game’; it released in 2009 with special graphics commemorating Michael’s incredible scoring output during his time of illness. Was the ’95-’96 season a tough act to follow? Certainly, but only Michael Jordan was able to match or surpass his own accomplishments and create another legendary, storied chapter in his own career. Continue reading for a visual recap of Michael Jordan and the Air Jordan XII, and stay tuned to Sneaker News for the next installment of Michael Jordan Through The Years.
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February 3rd, 2011 by John Kim
Jumping a bit forward in Michael’s history, Michael Jordan Through The Years focuses on a short span of time during Michael Jordan’s tenure with the Washington Wizards. During his second return from retirement, Michael Jordan mixed in a wide array of sneakers with the Air Jordan flagship models of those years – the Air Jordan XVII and XVIII. In fact, Michael had a penchant for wearing his older Retro models during games, most notably the Air Jordan XI ‘Cool Grey’. Perhaps his best performance in those shoes came in 2003 during his final trip to Madison Square Garden; Michael, who has repeatedly expressed his love for playing in the Garden, once again showed that he was the greatest player on the greatest stage by scoring 39 points while leaving the younger defenders speechless, helpless, and in awe.
The Air Jordan XI ‘Cool Grey’ released in March 3rd, 2001 to a rabid crowd of Jordan fans. Just six years ago, Michael Jordan and the Air Jordan XI led the Chicago Bulls to the most dominate season-long performance in the history of league, coming out victorious in seventy-two regular season games and winning the NBA Finals with ease. Michael completed the MVP trifecta of that year as well, earning the ‘Most Valuable’ title in the NBA, the 1996 NBA All-Star Game, and the 1996 NBA Finals. There certainly is no doubt that the Air Jordan XI carries with it a rich heritage of winning, embodying Michael Jordan’s career in on fell swoop, so while the original colorways of the Air Jordan XI – ‘Bred’, ‘Concord’, ‘Space Jam’, and ‘Columbia’ – were all celebrated, the all-new grey-schemed release sent Air Jordan acolytes in a frenzy. The TLC network took interest in this highly-anticipated release as the release of the Cool Greys at NikeTown in Chicago, IL was featured in ‘Buy-ology’, a program that explored the psychological drives behind shopping and the power of consumer culture as a whole.
The Air Jordan XI ‘Cool Grey’ released once again on December 23rd, 2010. As expected, the Cool Greys were sold out instantly in the U.S. and any other available stock in the rest of the world was cleared out not long after. Like the Air Jordan XI ‘Space Jam’ release of 2009, the Cool Grey 2010 were housed in a special slide-out box with a plastic covering, solid shoe tree inserts, and carbon-fiber paper. In a year filled with countless Air Jordan Retros, the Air Jordan XI ‘Cool Grey’ stood above the pack as Jordan Brand saved its marquee Retro release of the year for the very end, dropping just days before Christmas. Anyone and everyone who desired the shoes came out on the winter night to guarantee themselves a pair, as hundreds packed NikeTown in New York City at midnight and another mob convened at Deerbrook Mall in Texas. Continue reading for a complete look at Michael Jordan and the Air Jordan XI below with some great videos, and stay tuned to the next installment of Michael Jordan Through The Years.
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January 27th, 2011 by John Kim
The seed was planted in the 1995 NBA Playoffs when Michael Jordan, fresh from retirement, unofficially debuted the Air Jordan XI ‘Concord’ during the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Michael made the decision to wear the test sample simply because he could not resist the unparalleled beauty of the shoe. The cat was let out of the proverbial bag when sideline reporter Ahmad Rashad held up Jordan’s shoe to the camera before a game and introduced it as the next Air Jordan shoe, much to the chagrin of Nike’s mad scientist Tinker Hatfield who had urged Michael to not wear the shoe as it was not in production and was still a sample. As they say, there really is no bad publicity, because the Air Jordan XI quickly enamored Jordan fans across the globe and created an astounding ‘hype’ for a shoe that resulted in immense lines and near riots upon its release. Although the Bulls lost that Playoff series to the Orlando Magic, Michael was already seething for a full-season comeback later that year.
On paper, the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls weren’t much different from the season before; even with Michael Jordan, the Bulls were unable to defeat the younger Orlando squad. The only major change to the Bulls line-up was the acquisition of Dennis Rodman, a rebounding extraordinaire who’s penchant for loose balls was exceeded only by has flamboyant off-the-court lifestyle. Not only did Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls bounce back, they finished the 1995-96 season with the most regular season wins in NBA history, winning 72 of 82 regular season games and 87 of 100 games counting the Playoffs. The league was at the mercy of Michael Jordan, to which he never let down his firm grip; a much-anticipated rematch against the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals was wildly anticlimactic as the Bulls swept their Eastern Conference foes in four games and dismantled the Seattle Sonics in six. Michael Jordan, who was retired spectator just fourteen months ago, defined his greatness by bringing an NBA Championship back to the Chicago Bulls.
The most recognizable and arguably the most memorable pair of the Air Jordan XI is the classic Black/Red colorway; it featured a tonal black upper, combining patent leather and Cordura nylon, with a white midsole and a translucent red outsole and Jumpman logo. The quintessential Chicago Bulls combination of Black/Red is often the representative of each Air Jordan model and while each and every Air Jordan XI colorway was immensely popular, it is the Black/Red Bulls colorway that will be the figurehead of the eleventh Air Jordan installment. After a sell-out original release in 1995, the Black/Red Air Jordan XI released once again in 2001 and in 2008 (as part of the Air Jordan XI/XII Collezione Package). Michael Jordan also wore the White/Columbia Blue-Black colorway during the 1996 NBA All-Star Game; that too re-released in 2001, and there are currently rumors of a release for 2011 or 2012. A low-top version of the Air Jordan XI called Jordan XI IE Low was also released – one that Michael wore for a few games as well. Continue reading for a full visual recap of Michael Jordan and the Air Jordan XI below and stick with Sneaker News for Part 3 of Michael Jordan Through The Years: Air Jordan XI.
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