Air Jordan V “Fire Red”: The Original Raging Bulls
There is no trio of consecutive Air Jordan models that can challenge the iconic legacy of the III-IV-V. Tinker’s first three Air Jordan designs are considered by many to be the pinnacle of the long running series, and while there have been many other worthy offerings since, there is no other 3-year span in Air Jordan history that came close to matching the clout and timeless mystique still enjoyed by those three shoes. While the designs changed pretty drastically from one to the next, all three shared a certain intangible aesthetic that has stood the test of time to a degree that can never, and will never be duplicated by another athlete endorser or sneaker brand, never mind doing it with three straight releases.
Another common thread found between the Air Jordan III, IV and V was their similar approach towards colorways. Each shoe originally released in four versions that followed the same general blueprint. There was a white-based shoe for home and a predominantly black makeup for away. Then you had an alternate non-Bulls color scheme – usually a popular palette of the time (True Blue, Military Blue, Grape) – and finally, there was the “Fire Red” installment which can be found across all three models.
While the basic white and black offerings always gave a nod to MJ’s Chi-Town squad with hits of red here and there, nothing screamed out BULLS quite like the Fire Red editions. None of the Fire Reds got the same kind of spotlight as the more traditional home/away colorways, but when it came to repping the red and black of Michael’s uniform, they all managed to make a louder visual statement than their more toned down peers. Believe it or not, painting the midsole of a shoe bright red was actually pretty revolutionary at the time and the shoes immediately stood out
from the standard predictable white or black tooling found on the vast majority of basketball sneakers at the time.
All three Fire Red editions played up the Bulls aspect to the max, but the Air Jordan V may have outdone them all when it came to a bold look on the hardwood. With its vibrant red midsole wall and blacked out tongue, the colorblocking of the Fire Red V once again pushed the boundaries of what could be successfully pulled off in an era when the NBA enforced stringent policies on allowable sneaker colors and team uniform codes. The shoe might not have been present during many memorable snapshots or legendary MJ moments, but during their on-court run in the first half of the Bulls 1990-1991 championship season, they turned the heads of fans and opposing players alike on a nightly basis.
It wasn’t until seven shoes/years later that we saw such daring splashes of red again on the Air Jordan XII, but it all started with the Fire Red era and its triumphant finale with the V. Years later, Jordan Brand released a set of two Jordan V’s paying homage to Michael’s longtime team, dubbed the “Toro Bravo/Raging Bulls” pack, but the original Fire Red version is about as “Bulls” as the shoe could ever get. In many ways, the three Fire Red colorways are like the stepchildren of the OG family with their more widely recognized brethren hogging much of the historical glory, but they represented Michael’s team and city in a way that should automatically place them on the same hallowed ground as their original colorway counterparts. Continue on for a full gallery of the 2013 Retro edition releasing Saturday, August 31st, as well as some vintage shots of MJ wearing the shoe.