Browsing the "Michael Jordan Through The Years" Tag
January 6th, 2011 by John K.
It was a tough pill to swallow. Jordan fans and the Chicago Bulls faithful were aghast at the words of “I have nothing else to prove.” A man at the peak of his prime with a kingdom at his fingertips turned his back on the game and decided that he’d had enough. Retiring at the peak of one’s career when everything seemed to have been going peachy-keen may seem like a surprising development, but during the season prior to the decision, Michael had already expressed a desire to leave the game after the season was over. The joyful high following his third straight NBA Championship soon plummeted, as Michael’s father was tragically murdered and left for dead after a botched robbery. This event put Michael’s life into perspective – and the decision was made that the basketball phase had passed. On October 6th, 1993, Michael Jordan retired from the game of basketball, and in a more shocking turn of events, Jordan signed a contract with the Birmingham Barons – the Minor League affiiliate of the Chicago White Sox.
The decision to play baseball was to honor his late father, who always envisioned his son Michael as a Major League Baseball player. Although his talents didn’t transfer from the hardwood to the diamond, Jordan was still a giant fan attraction and brought some positive light to a professional sport that was marred in financial troubles. Would Michael come back to basketball? That question would remain unanswered, but like a true superstar is supposed to do, Michael left a very good Chicago Bulls team upon his retirement, and the Bulls won 55 games without Michael during the 1993-94 NBA Season. On November 1st, 1994, Michael Jordan’s jersey number was retired by the Chicago Bulls, and a commemorative statue was erected in front of the United Center.
While Michael Jordan retired, the Air Jordan did not; Tinker Hatfield once again was the spearhead behind the next Air Jordan shoe, emphasizing Jordan’s international fame and profound influence and using Japanese simplicity as the theme. The bottom sole was used as a canvas to pay tribute to Jordan, as his characteristics were spelled out in various languages – words like ‘fuerza’, which noted Jordan’s force, and ‘intenso’, which pointed to his intensity. Other notable design elements of the Air Jordan IX was the ‘speed-lacing’ system, which featured elevated lace-hoops, an emblem of a globe on the heel, and the perforated panels on the upper, providing breathability in the shoe. While Jordan never wore the Air Jordan IX as a Chicago Bull, he did wear the ‘Cool Grey’ version during his days as a Washington Wizard. Michael also wore the cleated version of the Air Jordan IX during his baseball career, and also wore the original White/Black-True Red colorway during the movie ‘Space Jam’. The Air Jordan IX was also immortalized on the statue, as Tinker Hatfield selected the Air Jordan IX design to be permanently engraved into Michael’s legacy. It was time for Michael and the Air Jordan to move into other directions; basketball was no longer on the horizon. How would Michael, Tinker, and the world respond? Continue reading for a detailed look at Michael Jordan and the Air Jordan IX, and stay tuned to Sneaker News for the next installment of Michael Jordan Through The Years.
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December 30th, 2010 by John K.
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.
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December 23rd, 2010 by John K.
Having had the taste of victory the season prior, Michael Jordan entered the 1991-92 NBA Season with ‘swag’, an unshakable and indefinable confidence that cast a shadow on the entire league. Winning was everything for Michael, as displayed by his leadership of the Chicago Bulls to a then-franchise record sixty-seven wins and a second trip to the NBA Finals. Jordan began the NBA Finals on a high note, finishing the first half of Game 1 with 35 points and the infamous shoulder-shrug after hitting six three-pointers – an outstanding scoring feat even Jordan himself couldn’t comprehend, as he looked to those in the audience for some sort of explanation. Michael Jordan led the Bulls to an eventual (and inevitable) victory over the Blazers while capturing the NBA Finals MVP, which completed the trifecta of MVP awards of that season. However, according to Jordan himself, winning his second championship wasn’t his favorite moment in the Air Jordan VII. In fact, that moment occurred halfway around the globe.
Months after winning his second title, Michael Jordan embarked upon a journey to the international stage, as he, alongside eleven other NBA superstars, formed the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team. Prior to the 1992 Olympics, NBA players were not allowed to participate in the Olympics, but in 1992, the ‘Dream Team’ was formed and steamrolled through the competition and dominated each and every contest by wide margins. Michael Jordan, who wore the ‘Olympic’ colorway of the Air Jordan VII, captured his first and only Olympic Gold Medal, and refers to his experience in Barcelona as “one of the best times of my life”.
The Air Jordan VII was designed once again by Tinker Hatfield, who was behind the Air Jordan III-VI, and was inspired by African tribal artwork. The design was also an evolutionary step forward from the Air Jordan VI while adopting some structural ideas from the Nike Huarache based on the cut and construction of the ankle. However subtle the jump from 6 to 7 may be, some major differences should be noted. For one, it did not featured a visible Air unit that was seen on the previous four models, nor did it showcase any sort of Nike logo or branding with the exception of the insoles. The shoe itself was very minimal with branding, as it featured just a small Jumpman on the upper ankle and the bottom sole, an AIR JORDAN label on the tongue, and Jordan’s ’23′ on the heel (’9′ on the Olympic version). As Jordan did with his previous models, he debuted the Air Jordan VII at the NBA All-Star Game, wearing the ‘Bordeaux’ colorway, and then followed that with the ‘Hare’ for the rest of the season, the Black/Red colorway for the 1992 Playoffs, and the ‘Cardinal’ for the first half of the 1992-93 season. Michael also wore the French Blue colorway during his years with the Wizards. After Retro releases in 2002, 2004, and 2006, the Air Jordan VII was released once more in 2010 in ‘Premio’ form as part of the Jordan Brand Bin 23 Collection. Continue reading for a look at Michael Jordan and the Air Jordan VII and stay tuned to Sneaker News for the next installment of Michael Jordan Through The Years.
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December 16th, 2010 by John K.
Despite a heartbreaking loss to the Detroit Pistons in the 1990 Eastern Conference Finals, Michael Jordan maintained a stoic demeanor while speaking to reporters on the court following the game. But inside, Michael Jordan was a ‘raging bull’, seething for another opportunity to take down the Detroit Pistons and advance to the NBA Finals. The 1990-91 NBA Season was one of the most efficient seasons of Jordan’s entire career; while still maintaining a scoring average of over thirty a game, Michael played only thirty-seven minutes per outing, which marked a career low for his entire tenure as a Chicago Bull. Michael Jordan took home an MVP Award while being placed on the All-NBA and All-Defensive 1st Team, but it wasn’t until June 12th, 1991 that Jordan received the trophy he had been yearning for over seven years.
After utterly dismantling the Eastern Conference throughout the first three rounds of the Playoffs, Michael Jordan embarked on his first-ever trip to the NBA Finals, facing off against Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers. The highly-anticipated series wasn’t nearly as competitive as fans though, as the Finals wrapped up in a mere five games. Michael Jordan took home the NBA Finals MVP for averaging 31.2 points, 11.4 assists, 6.6 rebounds, 2.8 steals, and 1.4 blocks, but his most memorable moment among that heap of stats was his legendary mid-air hand-switching lay-up that marked Jordan’s thirteenth field goal made in a row for the game. Scottie Pippen ran out the clock to end the game, and Michael Jordan had finally reached the ultimate goal – winning the NBA Championship. Overwhelmed with emotions of joy and the sense of triumph, Jordan broke down in tears, clutching the Naismith Trophy in his hands, while being consoled by his father. June 12th, 1991 – truly a defining moment of Michael Jordan’s career.
So what did he wear during his first championship? That one’s easy – the Tinker Hatfield-designed Air Jordan VI. The design of the shoe was a summation of a number of ideas – firstly as an evolutionary step forward from the Air Jordan V, then with inspirations from the classic Blucher-style dress shoe as well as Jordan’s Porsche. Michael Jordan introduced the Air Jordan VI during the 1991 NBA All-Star Game in the beloved Black/Infrared colorway, finished off the rest of the NBA regular season wearing the White/Infrared colorway, and reverted back to Black for the NBA Playoffs – and for one game, despite an injury, preferred to endure pain and wear his own Jordans over a protective shoe. It wasn’t until the 1991-92 Season that Michael wore the ‘Carmine’, which is considered to be one of the greatest Air Jordans of all time. Other original colorways included Maroon and Sport Blue, and later the Olympic, Midnight Navy, and three low-cut colorways. Later, in 2006, the Air Jordan VI released as part of the Defining Moments Package, adopting the Black/Gold lux motif, and in 2010, the ‘Infrared Pack’ released alongside five all-new Retro colorways. Continue reading for a full gallery of images and video of Michael Jordan and the Air Jordan VI, and stay tuned to Sneaker News for the next installment of Michael Jordan Through The Years.
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December 9th, 2010 by John K.
By the end of the 1988-89 NBA Season, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls had reached their closest point to an NBA Championship despite not reaching the NBA Finals. Sparked by an astounding series-winning shot against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round, the Bulls blew past the New York Knicks in the second round and lost in six games to the eventual champions Detroit Pistons. Although coming short of total victory, Michael Jordan was still riding high on the Air Jordan IV as his celebrity reached an enormous peak near the level of movie-stars and musicians. Fresh for the 1989-90 NBA Season, Michael Jordan was once again ready for battle, but with a new general at the helm, as legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson began his tenure with the Chicago Bulls. Despite finishing the season one game short of the NBA Finals, Michael Jordan experienced his winningest season as a Chicago Bull and gained valuable experience to piece together a Championship team.
After wearing the Air Jordan IV for the first half of the ’89-’90 season, Michael Jordan debuted the Air Jordan V in February of 1990 during the All-Star Game. The Air Jordan V featured a few carry-over design elements from the Air Jordan IV but utilized an all new architectural muse. Likening Michael Jordan’s gameplay to a World War II Mustang Fighter Jet for his sneak attacks and aerial assaults, repeat designer Tinker Hatfield transferred the design of the plane onto the shoe, marked by the ‘shark’s teeth’ on the midsole and the over-sized padded tongue with 3M-reflective material to match the shiny panels of the Mustang’s body. Tinker Hatfield also introduced the translucent sole to the Air Jordan, creating even more of a dazzling appearance, and used that same material on the upper netting, which reduced the weight of the shoe. Combined with the visible Air cushioning, the Air Jordan V is considered to be one of the most comfortable Air Jordans ever created.
Four original colorways of the Air Jordan V were created; the Black/Metallic Silver, which Jordan wore during the All-Star Game and Playoffs, a White/Black/Red colorway that he used throughout the remainder of the ’89-’90 season (including the infamous #12 jersey game), the ‘Fire Red’, which Jordan wore for the first half of the ’90-’91 NBA Season, and the ‘Grape’ colorway, arguably the most popular of the bunch and one of the greatest Air Jordans of all time. The Air Jordan V was re-issued a decade later in a number of new colorways, like the ‘Laney’ that paid tribute to Jordan’s high-school, and a clean White/Metallic Silver pair, followed by a much larger Retro release in 2006-2007, which introduced a number of great new color-ups rarely seen in the Air Jordan Legacy. In 2009, a special two-pack of the Air Jordan V called the ‘Toro Bravo’ Pack was released, one in a passionate red suede, which highlighted Jordan’s tenacity for the game, and another in a full-3M upper, which emphasized the marquee feature of the Air Jordan V. Five signature shoes and a closet full of personal accomplishments. What else would be left for Michael Jordan? Continue reading for the entire Michael Jordan Through The Years: Air Jordan V feature and stay tuned for the next installment.
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December 2nd, 2010 by John K.
In 1988, Michael Jordan began his fifth year as an NBA professional, and at the 1989 NBA All-Star break, Jordan debuted the Air Jordan IV. Tinker Hatfield was brought on board once more for his second Air Jordan shoe, the first being the Air Jordan III of the previous year. Michael Jordan went from ready to leave Nike at one moment to fully embracing the potential the next due to the outstanding design of the Air Jordan III. Would Michael’s expectations be too high for the Air Jordan IV?
Since the Air Jordan III and the introduction of elephant print to the Air Jordan signature line, each and every Air Jordan model has been signified by one defining feature; For the Air Jordan IV, it was the use of a plastic-coated mesh upper panel that gave the AJ4 its calling card, as the special material was implemented into the design to add a lightweight yet stylish characteristic to the shoe. Other beautifying features are the triangular wing-flaps that acted as the lace eyelets, the all-new midsole construction that featured visible Air, and a new ‘Flight’ logo written in a flashy script font.
Aside from design features and trademarks, each Air Jordan model is recognized for one specific event in Michael Jordan’s storied career. For the Air Jordan IV, standing about all the great single-game performances, dunks, and scoring displays was ‘The Shot’, that came during the closing seconds of Game 5 of the First Round Playoff Series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Considered to be the greatest game-winning shot in the history of basketball, Michael Jordan suspended himself in mid-air at the top of the key, disregarding the laws of inertia, and sank a buzzer-beating, series-closing jumper, celebrating with a vicious set of fist-pumps before being mobbed by his teammates, while head coach Doug Collins scampered around the court and the Cleveland crowd stared in silence and utter disbelief. Continue reading for the entire Michael Jordan Through The Years: Air Jordan IV feature and stay tuned to the next installment of this Sneaker News Michael Jordan feature.
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November 18th, 2010 by John K.
The Air Jordan 1 caused controversy, and the Air Jordan II defied convention. The Air Jordan III tooted its horn when Michael Jordan wore them during the 1988 NBA Dunk Contest, winning in style over the favored Dominique Wilkins and performing the most memorable dunk in the contest’s history – one that will be forever instilled in NBA lore and imagery. The Air Jordan III presented a number of new features to the Air Jordan line, like visible Air, which debuted on the classic Air Max 1, the elephant print, which was a result of Jordan’s desire for an animal print on the shoe, and tumbled leather, which added a level of luxury to basketball shoes and satiated Jordan’s wishes.
The Air Jordan III opened the door to now legendary designer Tinker Hatfield, who went on to design the next twelve consecutive Air Jordan models. Hatfield and the design team worked tirelessly for weeks, sometimes going without sleep for days at time, to create a one-of-a-kind shoe fit for Jordan’s personal and specific tastes and grandstanding enough to be worthy of its own podium. The Air Jordan III also welcomed movie director and fellow Brooklyn-native Spike Lee into the Air Jordan marketing strategy; while the Air Jordan 1 & II utilized a dramatic angle, the III featured a comedic approach, with ‘Mars Blackmon’ hanging on a basketball rim while standing on the shoulders of his “main man” Michael Jordan and providing most of the dialogue while letting Jordan speak with his actions.
However, the Air Jordan III was almost at risk of never being created, as Michael Jordan considered leaving Nike, until a stern chat with his father and a meeting with Tinker Hatfield changed his mind and opened up a newfound excitement for the Air Jordan III and the future of his signature line. The excitement resulted in one of the most successful spans in Jordan’s career; Michael ended the ’88 season with an League MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, All-Star Game MVP, and Dunk Contest Trophy while providing a firm foundation for the following ’88-’89 season, which turned out to be Jordan’s best all-around campaign. The three original colorways were all in rotation – White for the Dunk Contest and regular season, Fire Red for the Playoffs, and Black for All-Star Game. The fourth original colorway, known as the ‘True Blues’, were never worn by Michael as a Bull, but he brought them out during his brief tenure with the Washington Wizards. The Air Jordan III is long considered one of the greatest footwear designs of all time, and by some to be the greatest Air Jordan in the label’s history. Continue reading for a gallery of Michael Jordan and the Air Jordan III and stay tuned to Sneaker News for the next volume of Michael Jordan Through The Years.
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November 11th, 2010 by John K.
Last week, Sneaker News launched Michael Jordan Through The Years, a shoe-by-shoe chronicling of the Air Jordan Legacy featuring Michael Jordan, the shoes, and the stories of that year. We kicked it off with the original Air Jordan 1, a shoe that Jordan said reminded him of the devil, but undoubtedly matched his feisty on-court persona and the bullying aura of black and red. However, the Air Jordan 1 was a mere spin-off of the Nike Dunk High, so it was time start anew for the Air Jordan II; the design exuded an attitude if luxury and high performace while seeming shedding its rebellious reputation, but Air Jordan II didn’t necessarily follow all the rules.
The Air Jordan II was designed by Bruce Kilgore, who you know readily for being the man behind the historic Air Force 1, the quintessential Nike shoe and currently the face of the Nike Sportswear. The Air Jordan II was a special project for Kilgore because it wasn’t meant to be a conventional Nike shoe; it was the first signature Nike shoe to not feature a Swoosh logo, but instead featured a diminutive ‘NIKE’ on the rear heel, and introduced an interesting faux-lizard skin material on the upper. The Air Jordan II also featured the luxurious Air Jordan Wings logo on tongue, which also marked the last time the logo would ever make it on an Air Jordan shoe in the years to come. Overall, the level of style and design was unmatched at the time, as Air Jordan II’s 19th-Century boot inspiration and Italian roots separated itself from convention and created a new standard for all the Air Jordan designs to come.
Was there a sophomore slump for the Air Jordan II? The design itself was incredibly unique as were the materials used, and Michael Jordan had a stellar year wearing his second signature shoe (actually his third year – he sat out most of his second year due to injury). Jordan averaged a career-high 37.1 points a game, scored more than 3000 points in a season – the first such occurrence since Wilt Chamberlain did in 1973, and established himself as the best shooting guard in the game, as he was selected to the NBA All-Star team, as well as the All-NBA First Team. An NBA star was born in 1984 – did that 1986-87 season and the Air Jordan II establish a growing legacy? Check out the great gallery of Michael Jordan in the Air Jordan II and stay tuned to Sneaker News for our next installment of Michael Jordan Through The Years.
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