The year was 2008 and there were now twenty-three Air Jordan models. With Michael Jordan’s on-court career now long over and the #23 Jordan model seeming like a fitting place to end the series, there was uncertainty among the sneaker community if we’d see another official game shoe for 2009. Will there be an Air Jordan XX4? With Jordan Brand not saying a word one way or the other, all the speculation and queries were finally answered in early January of 2009, as Michael Jordan himself unveiled the next model at a special event in New York City. But no, it wasn’t the Air Jordan XX4. As a way to “retire”, so to speak, MJ’s iconic #23, the shoe was dubbed the Air Jordan 2009, beginning a new naming system for the flagship game shoe. In this week’s edition of Jordan 101, we’ll detail everything you need to know about the shoe that rang in that new era of the Air Jordan line.
The Air Jordan 2009 first released on January 31, 2009 in a special limited edition ‘Black/Metallic Gold’ colorway priced at $230 with only 2,009 pairs made. The standard edition debuted on February 14, for $190. There were only four total retail colorways of the shoe, and no low-top version released. The Air Jordan 2009 also featured a unique geometrically-shaped shoe box (which looked pretty cool, but wasn’t ideal for stacking purposes in every Jordan collector’s horde).
The Air Jordan 2009 was designed by Jason Mayden, Jordan Brand’s then Senior Footwear Designer. His lone flagship Air Jordan design, the shoe is built off the concept of Michael Jordan’s defensive skill, and features an overall futuristic look and inspiration from the sport of fencing, along with the precise geometric lines of a diamond. Fencing is called out most obviously by the metal mesh found on the tongue, while the outsole utilizes multi-directional traction patterned based on the sword movements of a fencer. The holographic jewel at the ankle and sharp lines of the upper and midsole reference the precision of the precious gemstone. The 2009 also featured a unique new logo that spells “Jordan” both right side up and upside down.
Propelling New Technology
Like many Air Jordan models, the 2009 introduced an all-new innovation: Articulated Propulsion Technology. APT for short, the tech was inspired by the springy carbon fiber prosthetics designed for runners and was characterized by a separated heel “platform” designed to propel the wearer forward on the court while running or up while jumping. Other technology packed into the sleek design included a TPU midsole chassis with a special blown-glass-inspired injection process creating a unique pattern on every shoe and ensuring that no two shoes are exactly alike. Like many Air Jordans before and after it, the 2009 also features a carbon fiber midfoot support shank. It’s all cushioned with Zoom Air in both the heel and forefoot.
Along with the unique marbled midsole chassis, the Air Jordan 2009 offers even more premium touches with the chosen materials, including pleated satin paneling, buttery soft polishable dress shoe style leather, plush inner lining, and lasered Jumpman logos on the tongue. Love or hate the overall design, you can’t deny that the shoe was the most luxurious on-court option of its time.
Only four colorways of the Air Jordan 2009 were released at retail, but there were also a number of PE’s of the shoe presented to players of the professional and amateur ranks. Ray Allen rocked the 2009 most notably, in both home and away colorways for the Boston Celtics. Elsewhere on the NBA court, Jordan Brand athletes like Carmelo Anthony, Rip Hamilton, Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby could be found in their own custom colorways. It was actually high schoolers who wore some of the best versions of the 2009, as it was the official on-court sneaker for the 2009 Jordan Brand Classic, featured in patent-leather detailed white and black colorways each accented with gold. Jordan Brand sponsored colleges like Cal and North Carolina also received special editions.
A New Beginning…For a Few Years
After the twenty-third model, Jordan Brand chose to retire the traditional naming scheme to honor Michael Jordan’s legacy. Referring to the Air Jordan 2009 as the beginning of a new chapter for the brand, the new system of designating the flagship shoe by the year it released actually only lasted four years, after 2013’s model switched back to “XX8”. Even though the naming has reverted back to the old system, the Air Jordan 2009 will still probably always be considered one of the major turning points for the brand (for better or worse), no matter how many more models release in Jordan history.