February 24, 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.
Filed under: Air Jordan