Michael Jordan Through The Years: Air Jordan VIII
Was two championships all Michael needed? The Chicago Bulls began the 1992-93 NBA Season again as the best team in the league, anchored by the best player in the league. The game, frankly, was too easy for Michael Jordan. A 50-point outing was something expected, not celebrated, and the burn-out of playing at such a high level for so long took its toll not only on Jordan’s physical condition, but more importantly, his mental approach to the game. Jordan had mentioned to his teammates and coach that the 1992-93 season would be his last, that the fun had disappeared, and that he’d had enough of the game. The Bulls, still one of the best of the league, played the season with a cloud hanging over the franchise, partially covering the unlimited potential Jordan and the Bulls truly had. The adverse effect it had was seen during a fourteen-game stretch early in the season, a span in which the Bulls lost eight games – one loss coming despite sixty-four points by Jordan himself. The Bulls finished the season with 57 wins, a respectable number at the very least, but still an underachievement for the Bulls, as they entered the 1993 NBA Playoffs without Home Court advantage.
However, the Playoffs were another story; Jordan lit up the arena and the scoreboard, dismantling the Hawks and Cavaliers (another buzzer-beater?) with ease while singlehandedly defeating the New York Knicks, who owned the best team record in the league, in six games. Two losses to open the Eastern Conference Finals as well as a NY-media bashing of Jordan for his late-night gambling trip to Atlantic City the night before Game 2 did not sit well with Michael. He responded in typical fashion, scoring 54 points in Game 4 to tie th e series and a triple double in Game 5 to take the lead. It was a wrap in Game 6, and Michael headed to the NBA Finals for the third straight year to face close friend and league-MVP Charles Barkley – a six-game slugfest that resulted in Michael recording the highest ever Finals scoring average, the biggest shot in Bulls history made by someone not named Michael, and a third NBA championship trophy. Things were back to normal again for Michael; the taste of winning was enough to keep him around, but only for a short period. After the tragic murder of James Jordan, Michaels father, on July 29th, 1993, Michael retired from the game of basketball later that year in October.
Certainly the most tumultuous season of Michael Jordan’s championship years came during the year of the Air Jordan VIII. Again, Michael debuted his next signature shoe during the NBA All-Star Game, showcasing the ‘Aqua’ colorway to match the dark-blue All-Star Game uniforms. Michael finished off the year wearing the white ‘Home’ colorway, and then the Black/Red pair for the Playoffs. The Air Jordan VIII was once again designed by Tinker Hatfield; the prominent featured of the shoe was the crossing instep straps – the first strap of any kind for an Air Jordan shoe, a frenzied yet controlled pattern on the mudguard, and a chenille Jumpman logo on the tongue. Like the Air Jordan VII, the VIII featured an inner sock-bootie construction for a snug fit and also featured Nike’s new lightweight Air cushioning (which would later be developed further into Zoom Air). Only three original colorways of the Air Jordan VIII exist, with a new Black/Chrome colorway releasing in 2003 and a slew of other off-Bulls color-combinations releasing in 2007. Continue reading for a full gallery of Michael Jordan and the Air Jordan VIII, and stay tuned to Sneaker News for the next installment of Michael Jordan Through The Years in 2011.