Michael Jordan Through The Years: Air Jordan III

November 18, 2010 BY

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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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