An Air Jordan History:
In the early 1980s Nike was struggling. Nike had always been known as a running shoe company, but jogging was losing its commerciality faster than disco. Nike needed to diversify and reinvent their product line or they would surely sink alongside the pet rock and platform shoes. Nike decided to make a basketball move and approached a promising rookie named Michael Jordan to see if he would be interested in endorsing a new Nike basketball sneaker. Michael Jordan wasn’t interested. In truth, Jordan didn’t much care for Nikes and much preferred Converse and Adidas. Jordan decided if Nike wanted him, others probably would too. What he found though, was that Converse already had endorsements from Larry Bird and Magic Johnson and Adidas was not interested in doing a basketball sneaker with a player. David Falk, Jordan’s agent, urged Michael to take Nike’s offer and, with some persistence, the rookie player agreed to a meeting.
It was 1984 when the design heads at Nike unveiled their sketches for the Air Jordan to the promising rookie, Michael Jordan, and his agent, David Falk. When Jordan saw the Nike prototype he was less than enthusiastic, commenting, “I can’t wear that shoe, those are Devil colors.” Maybe it was gut intuition, maybe it was the $2.5 million deal (for 5 years plus royalties and fringe benefits), but in the end Michael Jordan signed to Nike and the Air Jordan. The first Jordan sneaker was red and black with a winged logo designed by Peter Moore.
Up until that point, sneakers worn on the court in the NBA were neither flashy nor colored and the league had strict design rules; so when Michael Jordan walked out onto the court on November 17, 1984 to play the Philadelphia 76ers in a pair of black, red, and white high tops, the public was stunned and the association was outraged. The NBA wasted no time in banning the Air Jordan, but Michael ignored the ruling and kept wearing the shoes despite the $5,000 per game penalty. Nike was more than happy to pay the fine since the controversy catapulted the Air Jordans into the public eye. The following year, Nike made the Air Jordans available to the world and the world went crazy for them. Air Jordans have consistently been among the best selling basketball shoes since their inception and there has been a new Air Jordan released every year since.
Air Jordan Sneak-Facts:
• In 1997 Nike turned the Air Jordan line into its own sub-brand of the company. Air Jordan products no longer feature the Nike logo.
• Air Jordans were the first basketball sneaker to ask the input of the endorser when designing. The designers incorporate Jordan’s ideas, hobbies, and life into the shoes. Indeed, a number of Jordans have been designed after Michael Jordan’s cars.
• Jordan Brand also provides a whole line of apparel and shoes for fashion, training, and casual wear.
• Collectors classify Air Jordans by release year and model: Originals (OG), Retros, Retro+’s, and Samples.
• The Nike Air Jordan I is one of the most counterfeited shoes of the Air Jordan line.
• Michael Eugene Thomas, a 15-year-old ninth grader in Anne Arundel County, Maryland was strangled to death by his schoolmate James David Martin, 17, for his Air Jordan shoes which had cost $115.50. His body was discovered near the woods of the school they attended, Meade Senior High School on May 2, 1989.
• In April of 1989, Johnny Bates, 16, was shot to death in Houston, Texas by 17-year-old Demetrick Walker after Bates refused to give Walker his Air Jordan shoes. In March of 1990, Walker was sentenced to life in prison.
Designed by Peter Moore and released to the public on March 29, 1985, the Air Jordan I was a revolutionary basketball sneaker. Retailing at $100, it was also an extremely expensive basketball sneaker. The original Air Jordan I came with a double set of laces to match the two colors of the shoe. The first retro version of the Air Jordan I in 1994 sold very poorly, with some pairs going for as low as $20. The 2001 Re-Retro was considerably more successful, the kicks selling out instantly.
1994 Air Jordan Retro I
2001 Air Jordan Re-Retro I
2001 Re-Retro +
2001 Japan Edition
2001 Retro I Platinum
2003 Retro Patent
The Air Jordan II was not nearly as successful as its predecessor. It was designed by Bruce Kilgore. In a 1986 game against Golden State, Michael Jordan broke his ankle while wearing the Air Jordan II, which led many to think the II’s were the cause of the accident. After the Jordan II, Michael Jordan contemplated leaving Nike but opted to stay when new designer Tinker Hatfield asked Jordan to be a part of the design process. This had never been done by a sneaker company before. The Air Jordan II was the last to feature the wing logo.
1994-1995 Air Jordan Retro II
2003 Air Jordan II Nu’Retro
2004-2005 Air Jordan II Re-Retro
The Air Jordan III was the first Tinker Hatfield designed Jordan. Hatfield would design every Jordan model after until the Jordan XV and then returning to design the XX. The Jordan II was also the first to be modeled with input from Michael Jordan himself, first to show a visible air sole, and the first to feature the Jumpman logo. The Jordan IIIs are one of the most popular of all the Air Jordans.
1994 Air Jordan Retro III
2001 Air Jordan III Retro
2003 Air Jordan III Re-Retro
The Jordan IV was featured in director Spike Lee’s movie “Do The Right Thing.” In the film, one of the characters has his new Air Jordan IV shoes scuffed by a bicyclist. He places his shoe upon a fire-hydrant and cleans it with a toothbrush. The Jordan IV was not as innovative as the previous models, but still incredibly popular for the Air Jordan brand had come to solidify itself as a premier basketball sneaker empire.
1999-2005 Air Jordan IV Retro
2004 Air Jordan IV Retro +
2005 Air Jordan IV Retro UNDFTD
2005 Air Jordan IV Re-Retro Laser
2006 Air Jordan IV Re-Retro
Rumored to have been inspired by a World War II Mustang fighter plane, Tinker Hatfield’s Air Jordan V featured shark teeth shapes on the midsole, lacelocks, a silver/reflex tongue, and a clear/see-through rubber sole. While the clear rubber sole was warmly received and was featured on later Jordan models, the VI, XI, and XVI, many collectors have been upset by the sole’s tendency to turn yellow when they come into contact with water. More V’s were made than any other pairs of Jordans. The Jordan V is considered the best design and structure to wear during games.
2000 Air Jordan V Retro
Air Jordan V Retro +
The Air Jordan 6 was the shoe Jordan wore when he won his first championship. Another Tinker Hatfield design, the VI added a rubber tongue with two holes for getting the shoe on. If you look at the shoe at a side angle you can see the figure 2 standing up on the back of the shoe and the figure 3 lying down facing the ground close to the laces.
2000 Air Jordan VI Retro
2002 Air Jordan VI Retro +
2006 Air Jordan VI DMP Retro
For The Air Jordan VII, Tinker Hatfield incorporated some of the Nike Huarache technology to assist the shoe in really sticking to the wearer’s foot. When Jordan went to the Olympics to play on the 1992 Dream Team, Nike released a special Olympic colored edition of the Jordan VII with Jordan’s Dream Team number, 9.
2002 Air Jordan VII Retro
2004 Air Jordan VII Retro +
2006 Air Jordan VII Retro
The Jordan VIII is thick, and that’s being polite. It has a great—some may say too—many details, heavy padding, and criss-crossing Velcro straps. Many have remarked that the Jordan logo on the VIII resembles a Peace sign, thus earning the Air Jordan VIII one of its nicknames “the flower-power Air Jordan.” The other nickname is the “Bunnys” due to the fact that the commercial for the sneakers featured Bugs Bunny.
2003 Air Jordan VIII Retro
When Michael Jordan announced his retirement from the NBA on October 6, 1993, many thought it would mean the end of the Air Jordan shoe line. Michael Jordan wore the sneaker for one scene in the 1996 movie Space Jam. The IX was also chosen as the sneaker to adorn Jordan’s feet for his statue outside of the United Center in Chicago. Nike also released a baseball cleat version of the Air Jordan IX when Michael went to play professional baseball. The Jordan IX boasts a large 23 on the back as well as different symbols and languages of different countries on the soles:
Right Shoe: dédié (French)—dedicated; fuerza (Spanish)—force; intenso (Italian)—intense; liberté (French)—freedom; anmutig (German)—graceful
Left Shoe: спорт (Russian)—sport; uhuru (Swahili)—independence; свобода (Russian)—freedom; athletisch (German)—athletic; muundaji (Swahili)—hope
2002 Air Jordan IX Retro
ince Michael was playing baseball during the design period for the Air Jordan X, this is the only Jordan he never fully approved of. When Michael unexpectedly returned to basketball, he wore the Air Jordan X until switching to the Air Jordan XI for the playoffs.
2005 Air Jordan X Retro
One of the most popular and most sought after Air Jordans, the Air Jordan XI is the only one to feature the number 45, the number Michael wore during his stint in baseball. A season later Michael returned to the number 23 and the 45 versions of the sneakers were never officially released. The use of patent leather and a carbon-fiber shank revolutionized basketball shoe design. The XI is oft-copied. As many as 1/3 of all Air Jordan XI’s sold on eBay are fakes.
Air Jordan XI Retro
Air Jordan XI Retro +
The Air Jordan XII was the first Jordan to fall under the newly formed Jordan Brand and therefore was the first Jordan not to have the Nike logo on the shoe itself. The Air Jordan XII was inspired by the flag of the Japanese Army & Navy. The sneaker was the most durable Jordan to date, but it has a tendency to attract dirt very easily and is hard to clean. The XII was the shoe Jordan wore during his legendary flu-stricken performance in the fifth game of the 1997 NBA Finals when he scored 38 points including a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to end the game. Jordan was then carried off the court by teammate Scottie Pippen.
Air Jordan XII Retro
Air Jordan XII Retro +
Considered by many to be Michael Jordan’s favorite of the line, the Air Jordan XIII was inspired by a black panther. A hologram representative of a panther’s eyes at night is featured on the outer heel of the shoe. The hologram changes color as the viewer moves around the shoe. The XIII came out around the same time Michael Jordan announced his second retirement from the NBA.
Air Jordan XIII Retro
Air Jordan XIII Retro +
The XIV was modeled after Michael Jordan’s Ferrari f50. There are 7 Jumpman logos on each shoe.
Air Jordan XIV Retro
Air Jordan XIV Retro +
The Air Jordan XV was the first to be released after Michael Jordan’s retirement. The tongue of the shoe stuck out to mimic Jordan’s well known habit of sticking his tongue out while playing. The design was based on NASA’s 1950’s X-15 aircraft. This was Tinker Hatfield’s last Jordan design (until returning to design the Jordan XX).
The Air Jordan XVI was designed by Tinker Hatfield’s replacement, Nike Senior Footwear Designer, Wilson Smith. What made the Jordan XVI look new was a removable gaiter/shroud. This was the Air Jordan shoe Michael used in his first game (pre-season) in his 2nd comeback.
Known as the most expensive Jordans ever made (until 2008)—retail: $200—the Air Jordan XVII came in an embossed metal carrying case accompanied by a CD with the AJ XVII song.
The Air Jordan XVIII is predominantly known for its unique accessories: a pull-out opening box and a brush and towel for cleaning the shoes. The Air Jordan XVIII was designed by Tate Kuebis.
2003 Air Jordan XVIII.5
The Air Jordan XIX was the first Jordan to be released after Michael’s third and final retirement from basketball. The sneaker was modeled after the black mamba snake. Three special editions—East, West, and Olympic—were released.
2004 Air Jordan XIX SE
In 2005, Tinker Hatfield, legendary Jordan designer, returned to put his touches on the Air Jordan XX. The most noticeable feature of the Jordan XX is the laser etched design on the lace cover depicting various past Air Jordans and Michael Jordan’s achievements through his careers.
Released in February of 2006, the XXI features the continued evolution of the I.P.S (Independent Podular Suspension). Carbon Fiber shake plate offers midfoot and arch support.
Also known as the XX2, the Air Jordan XXII was released on Michael Jordan’s 44th birthday, February 17, 2007. The sneaker retails for $175. The design is said to take inspiration from the F-22 Raptor fighter jet. Like the XX and XXI, the XXII features I.P.S.
Air Jordan XXIII (2008)
Due to the significance of the number 23 and the fact that Michael Jordan had been retired for many years, many speculated that the Air Jordan XXIII would be the last in the legendary sneaker line. The Air Jordan XXIII is the first shoe of its kind to feature no glue. This feat was crafted by Tinker Hatfield, who, like the shoe’s endorser, has a penchant for coming out of retirement. The Air Jordan XXIII broke the record for most expensive Jordan, retailing at $230.
The Jordan Dub Zero features laser etching and performance based technology. The Dub Zero is a tribute to the entire line of Air Jordans.
The Air Jordan Spiz’ike was created in honor of the Michael Jordan and Mars Blackmon (alias for Spike Lee) commercials. The Jordan Spiz’ike is a compilation of designs from other Air Jordans:
From the Jordan III: the toe and heel elephant print.
From the Jordan IV: the lace bindings
From the Jordan VI: the large rubber tongue
From the Jordan V: the lace locks and side netting
What AJKO stands for, no one really knows. It was released at the same time as the Air Jordan I but featured a canvas upper instead of leather.
Air Jordan Nicknames
Blacktoes or Black Toe= Air Jordan I’s
True Blue= Jordan III’s
Cement= On Jordan III’s and IV’s
Militaries= Jordan IV’s
Laneys= Jordan V’s (Michael Jordan’s High School Colors)
Fire Red= Jordan V’s
Infared= Air Jordan VI’s
Carmines= Air Jordan VI’s
Maroons= Air Jordan VI
September Blues= Air Jordan VI
Bordeaux= Air Jordan VII’s
Charcoals= Air Jordan VII’s
Hares= Air Jordan VII’s
Cardinals= Air Jordan VII’s
Aquas= Air Jordan VIII’s
Steels= Air Jordan X’s
Chicago’s= Air Jordan X (Or any white/black/red colorway Jordan)
Ice= Clear blue on X’s (other models as well)
Columbia’s= Air Jordan XI
Space Jam’s/SJ= Air Jordan XI (Michael Jordan Wore them in the movie “Space Jam)
Concord’s= Air Jordan XI
Snake Skin= Air Jordan XI (Or any Air Jordan with a snake skin colorway)
Playoffs= Jordan XII/XIII (Or black/white colorway)
Taxis= Air Jordan XII’s
Altitudes= Air Jordan XIII’s
Flint’s= Air Jordan XIII
Indiglos= Jordan XIV’s
Oxys= Jordan XIV’s
Stealths= Air Jordan XX’s
DMP= Defining Moments Package
L’Style= LifeStyle (Comes with lots of matching clothes)
JB= Jordan Brand
Melo= Carmelo Anthony’s Shoes