Browsing the "Michael Jordan Through The Years" Tag
January 20th, 2011 by John Kim
After easily handling the Charlotte Hornets in the first round of the 1995 NBA Playoffs, the Chicago Bulls faced off against the Orlando Magic – a team that was younger, faster, and more energetic than the Chicago Bulls. Led by Shaquille O’neal and Penny Hardaway, the #1 seed Magic were ready to face off against Michael Jordan and the rejuvenated Chicago team, and considered the match-up against Michael as a true test of greatness. Game 1 was looking good for the Bulls; with twenty seconds left in regulation and up by one, Chicago had possession of the ball and the game looked to be under their control. It was during those final twenty seconds that may have shed light on Jordan’s possible fall from greatness – that he left the game too early for his own good and let get away a supreme reign that would rival that of the greatest dynasties in history. Michael had the ball cleanly stolen from him, allowing the go-ahead bucket to score. Now with six-seconds left and an opportunity for the game-winner, Michael made an errant pass to Scottie Pippen and turned the ball over, sealing Game 1 for the Magic. Orlando went on to win the series in six games despite Michael averaging over thirty points per contest and un-retiring his #23 jersey, and Nick Anderson, who was responsible for the late-game steal in Game 1, stated that Michael “didn’t look like the old Michael Jordan”.
There was no doubt that an 18-month hiatus from the game had taken its toll, but the loss to Orlando only made Michael hungrier, angrier, and ready for a challenge. Michael and Bulls came back with a fiery vengeance and arrived at the 1996 NBA All-Star Break with an astounding 42-5 record. So how does the Air Jordan XI tie into this? Tinker Hatfield, who was again the designer for the shoe, presented Michael with a wear-test pair in the White/Black ‘Concord’ colorway during that 1995 series against Orlando. Ignoring Hatfield’s pleas to not wear the shoes, Michael simply could not resist and wore the Concords for a few games, until he was given a stern warning from the NBA for not abiding by team uniform policies. For one game, Michael had no choice but to borrow a pair of the Nike Air Flight One from rival Penny Hardaway, but wore them with the Penny one-cent heel-tab cut off from the shoe. The following game, Michael introduced the Air Jordan XI in Black/White, which is now referred to as the ‘Space Jam’ colorway – but of course, at the time of its debut, the movie wasn’t even made yet. That series would be the last time Michael would wear the Space Jam colorway, because once the 1995-96 season arrived, Michael wore the Concord colorway for the regular season until the All-Star Game, where he would debut an all-new never-before-seen version.
The design of the Air Jordan XI is clearly one of luxury, but did you know that the eleventh Air Jordan was inspired by a lawn-mower? Tinker Hatfield has found inspiration from the unlikely places, but his keen eye has certainly rewarded once the Air Jordan XI was finally released in November of 1995 to a rabid crowd of fans and Jordan-enthusiasts. The ‘Concord’ was released again in October of 2000, followed the first release of the ‘Space Jam’ version later in December. A slightly altered version of the Concord was again released in 2006 as part of the first-ever Air Jordan Defining Moments Package, which celebrated the Air Jordan VI and XI – the two shoes that jump-started both of Michael’s three-peats. Another Retro release of the Concord has also been set for 2011. The more recent release of either the Concord or Space Jam came in 2009; the Air Jordan XI Space Jam was released in late December and featured a unique slide-out packaging, solid plastic shoe trees, and a $175 price-tag. They were instantly sold out, inciting riots and overall mayhem, and was selected by Sneaker News as the best sneaker of 2009 – and deservingly so. Continue reading for a full visual recap of Michael Jordan in the Air Jordan XI Concord and Space Jam, and stay tuned to the next volume of the Air Jordan XI installment of Michael Jordan Through The Years.
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January 13th, 2011 by John Kim
Michael Jordan’s sudden retirement in October of 1993 shocked the world of sports and completely changed the horizon of the NBA’s future. The league was guaranteed an all-new champion by default, and the Houston Rockets rose to the occasion and captured the NBA Title in the Summer of 1994. The Chicago Bulls put up a formidable attack that season, tallying fifty-five wins and advancing to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, but the 1994-95 season was a different story. The Bulls were unable to continue Jordan’s winning legacy, and late into the season, the Chicago Bulls were standing at .500 with the powerhouse New York Knicks and Orlando Magic standing farther ahead of them. Not only were the NBA Finals an unrealistic goal, but at times it appeared that the Chicago Bulls would miss the Playoffs completely. The team, the franchise, and the town were in dire need of a savior, and on March 17th, 1995, the citizens of the Windy City were about to be blown away.
Michael Jordan announced his comeback to basketball on March the 17th and was quickly inserted into the starting line-up. Despite losing on his first game back, the Bulls went 13-4 the rest of the season, solidifying themselves a Playoff position and owning an unstoppable momentum. At times, it appeared that Michael Jordan was just a shell of himself, but on his fifth game back, Michael Jordan dropped 55 points on the New York Knicks, an outstanding, awe-inspiring performance that today is referred to as ‘the Double-Nickel’. Unfortunately, not all the rust was shaken off, the the Chicago Bulls fell to Shaquille O’neal, Penny Hardaway, and the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, but spirits were still sky-high. The Chicago Bulls faithful believed once again, and the Promised Land was again on the horizon.
The Air Jordan X was officially released in November of 1994. Despite Michael wearing the shoe for a short period of time, the Air Jordan X holds its fair share of history in the Air Jordan Legacy. Tinker Hatfield and the designers at Nike were fully prepared for Michael Jordan to never lace up a pair of sneakers on an NBA court ever again, and so Hatfield treated the Air Jordan X as a tribute of sorts to Michael Jordan and his illustrious career. The most notable feature of the Air Jordan X is the bottom sole, which details Michael’s career achievements during each year of active play. Another interesting note about the Air Jordan X was that it marked the 10th Anniversary of the Air Jordan shoe. To mark the 10-year milestone, Nike re-issued the original Air Jordan 1, II, and III, and released a special ‘City Pack’ of the Air Jordan X in colorways matching the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Sacramento Kings, Seattle Supersonics, and Orlando Magic. Upon his return to the NBA, Michael wore the White/Red ‘Bulls’ colorway during the regular season and the ‘Shadow’ colorway for the First Round of the Playoffs; special Player Exclusives were made for Michael with ’45′ stitched on the upper to match his new jersey number. The Air Jordan X was later re-issued in 2005 in a number of colorways and again in 2008. Continue reading for a full visual history of Michael Jordan and the Air Jordan X, and stick with Sneaker News for the next installment of Michael Jordan Through The Years.
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January 6th, 2011 by John Kim
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 Kim
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 Kim
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 Kim
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 Kim
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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