The History of Air Jordan | Foot Locker


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History of Air Jordan



In 1984, after winning a national title at the University of North Carolina and a Gold Medal at the Olympic games in Los Angeles, Michael Jordan was selected 3rd overall by the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Draft. That year Nike also signed Michael to a five-year endorsement contract worth a reported $2.5 million (plus royalties). There was initially some skepticism over the hefty contract being given to an unproven marketing commodity, but MJ was quick to prove the critics wrong.

In 1985, Nike gave Jordan and his signature line of sneakers and apparel a unique logo - clearly, this line was created to be very different from Nike's previous basketball efforts.

Designer Peter Moore was given the task of coming up with the first Air Jordan shoe. The Air Jordan 1 featured the Nike Swoosh on the mid panel and a newly designed wings logo on the upper ankle. The first Air Jordan was similar in design to other popular Nike models released in the 1980s such as the Air Force 1, Terminator and Dunk. The Air Jordan I featured a Nike Air unit for heel cushioning, padded foam ankle collars for additional protection and a toe overlay for added lockdown.

Although the AJ 1 lacked technology, the colors and cultural significance set the sneaker industry on its ear. The Air Jordan 1 paved the way for colorful basketball sneakers. It transformed the way people looked at athletic shoes. During the 1985 NBA season, Michael wore the Air Jordan 1, which retailed for $65 - at the time, the most expensive basketball shoe on the market. The AJ I Black/Red colorway was banned by the NBA because of rules regarding shoe colors; Jordan was fined $5,000 for every game he wore them (Nike gladly footed the bill, as the fines created even more buzz around the Air Jordan 1). MJ's rookie campaign resulted in an All-Star appearance, Rookie of the Year honors and leading the Bulls to the playoffs after a four-year absence. Michael wore the Air Jordan I Red/White/Black as he scored 63 points against the Boston Celtics in the 1986 playoffs. Although the Bulls ended up losing to the Larry Bird-led Celtics, Michael showed that he was one of the bright young stars in the NBA.


Following the frenzy created by the first Air Jordan was a tall order, but designer Bruce Kilgore - who also designed the classic Nike Air Force 1 - took the reins for the second shoe in the Air Jordan series and, as intended, went in a new and different direction.

The Nike Swoosh that was so prominent on every Nike shoe up to that point was removed from the Air Jordan II. With a simple and clean design, the shoe featured upgraded materials, including a faux lizard skin upper and a molded plastic heel counter.

Known for its Italian craftsmanship, the Air Jordan II featured vast upgrades in quality from the Air Jordan 1. A full length Air unit beefed up the midsole to cushion Jordan's sore foot (he'd broken it and missed much of the season) and the high-top cut of the shoes provided great ankle support. Embossed on the tongue, the Air Jordan Wings logo played a more prominent role in the Air Jordan II. The Air Jordan II paved the way for quality basketball footwear and set the stage for the madness that would follow with the Air Jordan III. Although the Air Jordan II didn't see the court much, it still has its place in sneaker culture as the first "luxury basketball sneaker." The wings box the shoes came in is one of the most sought-after and loved Air Jordan boxes to date.

Michael won his first NBA slam dunk title while wearing the Air Jordan II. During the 1985-1986 NBA season, Michael only wore the Air Jordan II for 18 games due to a broken foot. When Jordan returned to the court for the playoffs, he wore the Air Jordan I as he lit up the Celtics in his legendary 63-point game.


With buzz surrounding Michael Jordan and his signature kicks, Nike looked to corporate architect-turned-footwear-designer Tinker Hatfield to head up the creation of the Air Jordan III.

Hatfield's design of the Air Jordan III was unique in several aspects: - The Air Jordan "wings" logo was no longer present - it was replaced by the newly introduced Jumpman logo on the tongue

The cut of the shoe was a mid, which had never been seen in the basketball shoe world before. The midsole was crafted with highly sculpted polyurethane, which introduced a fresh look. The visible Air unit was introduced to the Air Jordan line, allowing players to literally "walk on air."

Possibly the most distinct aspect of the Air Jordan III was the upgrade in materials. The upper was constructed of rich full-grain tumbled leather and was built to feel broken in - Jordan could wear a brand new pair every game without worrying about stiffness in the shoes.

Hatfield also chose to combine the tumbled leather with faux elephant skin. The elephant print was featured on the toe cap and heel of the kicks. (It also showed up on the bottom of the shoe box.)

The Air Jordan III continued the progression of the footwear industry. Its materials, technology and fresh design - with the assistance of a revolutionary Air Jordan commercial - took the basketball world by storm. Nike linked up with writer/actor/director Spike Lee for a spot starring Michael Jordan and Spike's character Mars Blackmon. MJ and Mars collaborated on several more Air Jordan commercials in the coming years.

Michael averaged 35 points per game on his way to being voted to his fourth straight All-Star game where he won the MVP award and second straight Slam Dunk title. He was also voted the Defensive Player of the Year, won the league scoring title and took home the league MVP trophy - all while wearing the Air Jordan III.

The AJ III is one of the most popular, in-demand Air Jordans in the series and continues to sell out every re-release.


Following the success of the III, Tinker Hatfield delivered one of the most comfortable, most-loved Air Jordans in the series, the Air Jordan IV.

The Jumpman logo made its second appearance on the tongue but with the word "Flight" added below it.

Like the sculpted midsole, the cut of the shoe was the same as the Air Jordan III. The visible Air unit and padded tongue and collar also carried over from the AJIII.

The nubuck material was introduced to the sneaker world on the upper of the Air Jordan IV. The AJ IV featured mesh for the first time, increasing breathability. Multiple areas of the IV featured plastic. Attached to the nubuck heel was a lean triangular plastic piece that was connected to a hard plastic lace holder. The lace holder at the forefoot provided added lockdown.

The heel tab that read "Nike Air" was plastic and similar to that of the Air Jordan III. Also on the upper was a plastic grid pattern that lay over the breathable mesh and behind the triangular piece.

To market the shoe, a new batch of Michael Jordan/Mars Blackmon commercials aired.

The Air Jordan IV is one of the most collected shoes in the series. Ten years after its original release, Nike retroed the AJ IV in 1999; it sold out immediately.

Wearing Air Jordan IV, MJ was voted to his fifth consecutive All-Star game and won the league scoring title for the third consecutive year. One of the most memorable Air Jordan IV moments was when Michael hit the series-clinching, hanging jumper over Craig Ehlo in the first round of the playoffs against Cleveland - better known as "The Shot."


In 1990, Designer Tinker Hatfield continued to push the envelope with the Air Jordan line. His creativity and innovative thinking continued on several levels with the design of the Air Jordan V. The shoe featured an asymmetrical collar and the cut of the shoe was higher than the previous two Air Jordans. The V still had the sculpted midsole, but included a new pattern inspired by a World War II fighter plane.

The visible air unit carried over from the III and IV, as did the use of mesh from the AJ IV. The outsole of the V was made of translucent rubber while very thin, clear rubber adorned the side panel of the upper and the lower part of the tongue.

Certain colorways of the AJ V used reflective 3M material on the tongue - a nice innovation to the Jordan line. On every Jordan V, an "AIR JORDAN" patch was stitched on the inside of the tongue.

Another first was the Grape Purple /Emerald colorway that had never been seen on a basketball shoe.

The heel of the AJ V was built with strong ankle support. The heel featured a stitched "NIKE AIR" logo with a Swoosh underneath. Lace locks were included with the Air Jordan V for added lockdown.

The V continued the great success of the Air Jordan line and came at a good time as Michael Jordan was hitting his stride in the NBA.

Jordan Brand has re-released the Air Jordan V in multiple colorways, including the original Grape, Fire Red and Black/Silver colorways as well as the White/Royal/Maze color inspired by Jordan's high school alma mater, Laney High.

While rocking the Air Jordan V in 1990, Michael Jordan made his sixth straight All-Star game appearance, won his fourth straight league scoring title and was named to the All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team. Although the Bulls lost to the Pistons in the 1990 Conference Finals, Jordan was on the verge of one of the NBA's greatest dynasties - and driving the footwear industry to new heights.


While Michael Jordan was hitting his stride on the court, designer Tinker Hatfield took to the drawing board once again to design the sixth shoe in the Air Jordan line.

The sculpted midsole, visible air and translucent outsole were carryovers from the Air Jordan V but were slightly altered. The upper of the Air Jordan VI is said to have been designed to abstractly depict the number 23. Three original AJ VIs were made of leather, while the Black/Infra Red colorway was made of rich suede.

The White/Carmine/Black Jordan VI featured a leather heel and upper with carmine red suede on the toe and underlay. Other traits included a clean toe cap, rubber tongue with finger loops, lace locks, a molded plastic heel tab and an inner booty sleeve.

The Air Jordan VI is one of the most loved shoes in the Air Jordan line. Originally released in 1991, the White/September blue version was seen on the feet of Jerry Seinfeld in the second season of his hit TV series.

Tinker Hatfield designed the Air Jordan VI-inspired Batman boots worn by Michael Keaton in the 1992 film Batman Returns. On the court, Ray Allen and Vin Baker wore White/Navy/Red editions of the Air Jordan VI at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

In 1991 while wearing the AJ VI, Michael averaged 31.5 points per game to win his fifth straight NBA scoring title. That year MJ was voted first team All-NBA, first team All-Defense and notched his seventh straight All-Star appearance while being named the 1991 league MVP. Most importantly Michael Jordan's skills and dedication culminated in the Bulls' first NBA Championship and was Jordan was named NBA Finals MVP.


In 1992, following the success of the Air Jordan VI and Michael Jordan's first NBA Championship, Tinker Hatfield continued his innovation in the Air Jordan line with the Air Jordan VII which was inspired partially by West African Tribal culture and partially by the Nike Huarache basketball shoe line. The AJVII had a more colorful, more minimal and more lightweight design than previous Air Jordans.

The Air Jordan 7 design said goodbye to visible Air, the translucent outsole and the prominent Nike Air logo (except on the insole). The upper was similar to the AJ VI with minor alterations; the toecap design was a carryover from the VI.

A stitched Jumpman appeared on the heel of the thin, unpadded leather upper. A triangular piece of the rubber outsole wrapped up to secure the midsole. The heel featured a hard plastic arrow-shaped piece with the number 23. The heel piece had a pull tab used to lock the foot into the inner sockliner.

The Air Jordan VII marked several changes in the Air Jordan series: There was minimal Nike branding both on the shoe and in the marketing campaigns. Ads shifted from MJ's teamup with Mars Blackmon to Michael and Bugs Bunny. One commercial featured the duo both wearing the AJ VII beating another team in a game of hoops.

Michael Jordan wore the Olympic-inspired version of the VII as he led the "Dream Team" to a Gold Medal at the 1992 summer games in Barcelona. That pair featured the number 9 on the heel, reflecting MJ's jersey number on Team USA. MJ won his sixth straight scoring title while wearing the AJ VII and was again named first team All-NBA, first team All-Defense and an All-Star for the seventh consecutive time. He was voted league MVP for the second straight year and won his second NBA Championship ring and Finals MVP with the Bulls.


The shoes on Michael Jordan's feet for the first Three-peat Championship were the Air Jordan VIII.

Unique to the upper of the Air Jordan VIII is a color splash on the heel/outsole and lockdown straps embossed with the number 23. The padded high-top cut returned to the Air Jordan line. The popular inner booty sock liner also made its return. A circular carpet-like Jumpman logo appeared on the tongue of the AJ VIII a nice touch to a well-crafted shoe.

Three colorways of the Jordan VIII were originally produced: White/Black/Red (leather), and two suede versions, Black/Red and Black/Aqua.

The Air Jordan VIII was the first shoe MJ wore after his international visibility in the 1992 Olympics, and the Bugs Bunny/ Michael Jordan ad campaigns returned for the VIII.

The Aqua colorway of the VIII that MJ wore in the 1993 NBA All-Star game is one of the most sought-after original Jordans. It was re-released in 2007 and sold out immediately.

Michael was again chosen as first team All-NBA, first team All-Defense and made his eighth consecutive All-Star game. In the Air Jordan VIII Michael scored 32.6 points per game to collect his seventh straight league scoring title. He was named NBA Finals MVP for the third straight year while collecting his third championship ring with the Bulls.


After leading the Chicago Bulls to three straight NBA Championships, Michael Jordan retired from pro basketball to pursue his dream of playing baseball. MJ signed a contract with minor league baseball's Birmingham Barons in February of 1994. He wore number 45 and played outfield for the White Sox affiliate.

Still, the Air Jordan basketball shoe line moved forward. Tinker Hatfield once again designed the AJ IX, with a graphic design assist by Mark Smith. And although MJ never wore the original Air Jordan IX on the basketball court, the shoes could be seen on the Michael Jordan statue outside the United Center in Chicago. (Jordan wore the Air Jordan IX baseball cleats during his brief minor league baseball stint in 1994.)

Although Michael Jordan never wore the original Air Jordan IX in an NBA game, Penny Hardaway, Kendall Gill, BJ Armstrong and Mitch Richmond each wore exclusive versions during the 1993-1994 NBA season. High-schooler LeBron James wore a white/green/gold St. Vincent St. Mary's version of the IX during his 2003 high school senior year.

The upper of the AJ IX was constructed of leather, nubuck and mesh. The nubuck area wrapped around the toe and contained reflective sparkles in three out of the four original color styles. The inner booty sock liner carried over from the previous two Air Jordans. A one-pull lacing system a new innovation at the time was introduced with the AJ IX.

A polyurethane midsole in a tooth-like design sat atop the rubber outsole. A molded plastic globe graphic with a Jumpman logo appeared on the back of the IX. The sole of the shoes featured words in different languages, symbolizing Michael Jordan going global.

MJ retired from baseball on March 10, 1995 and planned a return to the NBA. Air Jordan fans around the world couldn't wait to see the latest Air Jordan design.


Michael Jordan returned to the NBA on March 19, 1995, against the Indiana Pacers. He wore the "Chicago" colorway of the Air Jordan X.

The Air Jordan X's design was very simplistic. The original "steel" version was designed with a stitched toe piece. Michael didn't like the toe piece, so all subsequent colorways of the AJ X had a clean toe cap.

The X featured a padded collar, pull tab at the heel and an elastic band lacing system. The midsole of the X was constructed of lightweight Phylon connected to a rubber outsole. The outsole listed Jordan's career achievements on alternating stripes.

Eight original colorways of the AJX were released. The steel and powder blue uppers were made of full grain leather; the black/shadow version had a suede upper.

The other original colorways of the X were part of the city series that featured five color schemes of teams in the NBA: Chicago, Orlando, New York, Sacramento and Seattle. These have become some of the most sought-after Air Jordans the Chicago Xs, for example, have sold for thousands of dollars on auction sites.

Nine days after Jordan told the world "I'm back," he torched the Knicks for 55 points in his return to Madison Square Garden. Michael and the Bulls made it to the playoffs, but were eventually eliminated by the Orlando Magic, led by Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O'Neal.


Thanks to great performance coupled with an innovative design, the Air Jordan XI (particularly the Concord colorway) is one of the most-loved sneakers ever. Sole Collector magazine voted the XI the top shoe of all time.

Tinker Hatfield's design for the Jordan XI featured patent leather for the first time on a basketball shoe. The upper was constructed of a polymer?coated, thin nylon ballistic mesh material. The collar and tongue were padded for max ankle comfort. The translucent outsole lay atop a full-length carbon fiber shank plate which provided extra spring. The shoe also included a full-length Air-Sole unit for maximum cushioning.

Michael wore the black/varsity royal/white version in the movie Space Jam. Jordan also wore the same "Air Jordan XI Space Jam" shoe in the NBA playoffs. Many Brand Jordan athletes worn the AJ XI over the years; Ray Allen sported a white/green/gold version during the Celtic's 2008-09 season.

When the XI was made, MJ was quoted as saying someone would one day wear them with a tuxedo. Months later Boyz II Men appeared at an awards show wearing tuxes and AJ XIs.

While wearing the Air Jordan XI, Michael was elected an All-Star for the 10th time, the All-Star game MVP for the second time, scoring champion for the eighth time, and was again league MVP. The Bulls won the NBA title for the fourth time, and as he was for the previous three championships, Jordan was again the Finals MVP.


Tinker Hatfield and Michael Jordan collaborated to create the durable, stylish Air Jordan XII as a follow-up to the XI.

Inspired by a women's fashion shoe and the Japanese flag, the Air Jordan XII was clean and simple. The rich leather upper was stitched to resemble a rising sun, while the toe and accent overlays were made of faux reptile leather. The XII featured the slogan "TWO 3" down the tongue, metal lace loops with Jumpman logos and a pull tab that ran up the entire heel that read, "QUALITY INSPIRED BY THE GREATEST PLAYER EVER."

The XII had a full-length carbon fiber shank like the AJ XI. The XII introduced full-length Zoom Air cushioning to the Jordan line.

The Air Jordan XII was originally released in five colorways, including the black/red version that MJ wore during Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz. In that game, Michael was ill and his appearance was questionable, but he was able to play and put together an unbelievable performance in the Bulls win. The shoe he wore during that game is known among collectors as "Flu Game XII."

The other colors of the XII saw the floor during that season as well. Jordan wore the black/white shoe during 1997 playoff games. With the Air Jordan XII on his feet, MJ made his 11th All-Star game appearance, won his ninth NBA scoring title and was named first team All-NBA and first team All-Defense. He won his fifth NBA title and NBA Finals MVP while wearing the XII.

Beginning in 2003, the Air Jordan XII was re-released in several additional colors.


For the 1997-1998 season, designer Tinker Hatfield inspired by Michael's cat-like play drew up the AJ XIII. (He didn't realize Michael's friends had already nicknamed him "The Black Cat.")

The hologram on the upper resembled the eye of a panther and the outsole had a paw-like design. The XIII featured heel and forefoot Zoom Air, a Phylon midsole and podular tooling, making it one of the most comfortable Air Jordans in the series. A carbon fiber midfoot shank and asymmetrical collar were also featured on the XIII.

The Air Jordan XIII was originally released in five mid colorways and two low colors. Jordan wore the AJ XIII throughout the 1997-1998 season and into the playoffs (until he introduced the AJ XIV in the 1998 NBA Finals against the Jazz). Michael wore the white-based colorways of the XIII at home and the black-based versions on the road throughout the season.

The AJ XIII was brought back in 10 colorways in 2004 and 2005. The season MJ wore the AJ XIII, he was voted to his 12th All-Star game (he was again the MVP), won his record-setting 10th straight league scoring title and was named first team All-NBA and first team All-Defense. The Bulls beat the Jazz to win their third consecutive title, giving MJ his sixth NBA Championship and sixth NBA Finals MVP award.


Nike designers Tinker Hatfield and Mark Smith teamed up once again for the Air Jordan XIV worn by Michael during the 1998 Finals, it was the last shoe he wore as a Chicago Bull.

Jordan hit the infamous "last shot" against the Utah Jazz while wearing the Black-Red colorway. Seven years later, many Brand Jordan athletes wore the Retro version of the XIV on the court when shoes were hitting at retail. The idea for the XIV was modeled after Michael's love for cars, inspired specifically from a Ferrari. The Air Jordan XIV boasted a Ferrari-like shield featuring a Jumpman logo. In fact, the design of the AJ XIV included seven Jumpman logos on each shoe for a total of 14 per pair. The Jumpman logo can be seen on the side heel, outsole, insole, back heel, toe and on the metal lace tips.

The asymmetrical collar provided support, while mesh vents made for a breathable cooling system. Low-profile heel and forefoot Zoom Air made the Air Jordan XIV a comfortable ride, and many athletes consider the AJ XIV one of the best performance basketball shoes of all time.

The XIV was originally released in five mids and three low tops in 1998 and 1999. It was re-released in 2005 and 2006 in 10 total colorways. The popular "Last Shot" XIVs were brought back along with a variation of the White/Red colorway. One of the most sought-after AJ XIV models, the Indiglos, have yet to be re-released by Brand Jordan.


Michael Jordan announced his retirement after the 1998 season, and designer Tinker Hatfield was once again challenged to design a shoe that MJ would never wear on the court. Hatfield found inspiration in the X-15 fighter plane from the 1950s, which at the time set numerous speed records.

The AJ XV had an aggressive, sharp-edged and unusual shape. It was built with a woven Kevlar material, had a fully molded Pebax reinforced heel counter, incorporated a large mesh tongue that stuck out (almost mimicking Michael). The heel counter featured numbers which significant to MJ's career 23.6.15, representing Michael's jersey number, the number of titles he won, and the model of Air Jordan. The heel counter extended to the outsole and read 2.17 Jordan's birthday.

The XV featured a hidden speed lacing system, seamless dynamic-fit sleeve, rubber herringbone traction pods, an injected TPR external heel counter and a breathable leather pattern. The XV also featured a full Zoom Air-Sole for cushioning.

The Air Jordan XV was released in a total of four colorways in 1999-2000. The XV was also released in player exclusive colors including White/Green, White/Carolina Blue, White/Red and White/Purple. Several Team Jordan athletes sported the Air Jordan XV. Mike Bibby, Michael Finley, Ray Allen, Derek Anderson and Reggie Miller all wore variations of the X-15 inspired kicks.


Smith took inspiration from marching boots, high-performance automobiles and architecture. The upper of the Air Jordan XVI was built with lightweight mesh and included a full-length inner booty. The shoe had a patent leather toe rand. The full-grain leather and breathable mesh upper could be covered by a unique removable shroud that allowed the Air Jordan XVI to transition from an off-court shoe into a game shoe. The shroud featured a magnetic fastening cover for added lockdown.

The square toe box was very roomy compared to previous Air Jordans, and the patent leather toe of the XVI was taken from the AJ XI. The shoe featured a return to the visible Air-Sole cushioning and the translucent outsole that was featured on Air Jordans V, VI and XI. The Air Jordan XVI introduced blow-molded heel and forefoot Zoom Air to the line as the Air Jordan progressed toward performance basketball.

Four colorways of the Air Jordan XVI were released in 2001. The Black/Red and White/Navy versions featured patent leather toes and the wheat model had a rich suede upper. The Cherrywood color was constructed of full-grain leather. Two low versions were released as well: white/red and black/black.

The Air Jordan XVI could be seen on Michael Finley, Mike Bibby, Quentin Richardson, Darius Miles and Reggie Miller during the season. Considered to be one of the most stylish off-court Air Jordans, the XVI was worn by Michael in a suit back in 2001 Brand Jordan ads.


When Michael Jordan resigned as Washington Wizards president of basketball operations and returned to the court, he wore the Air Jordan XVII. Wilson Smith III again led the design of the Air Jordan XVII.

Smith had a couple of inspirations for this shoe. About the time sketching for the AJ XVII started, musician Michael Phillips was signed by Brand Jordan. Smith adopted the smooth lines and flow of a jazz solo as the theme of the AJ XVII. Smith also incorporated the fine details of an Aston Martin car and the outsole design was said to have come from a golf course Michael played.

The XVII featured a TPU heel stabilizer, heel and forefoot Tuned Air (a first for the Jordan line), a dynamic-fit sleeve, hidden quick lace system, lace-locks, a full-length composite shank plate and variable-width lacing for a more snug fit. Among Smith's innovations was the inclusion of a removable midfoot cover, which allowed the wearer to choose whether the laces would be visible. A CD-Rom and metal briefcase were also included to make the Air Jordan XVII the most expensive Air Jordan ever produced at the time, with a suggested retail price of $200.

The Air Jordan XVII had multiple versions. Three mid colors were released: white/blue, black/black and white/red. An Air Jordan XVII version featured metallic copper and faux alligator leather on the heel. Three low models were released, including a white/lightning All-Star version. To top off the AJ XVII run, three colorways of super low mule slip-ons were released.

In Jordan's first year back with the Wizards, he averaged nearly 23 points per game. In January 2002, he scored his 30,000th point against the Chicago Bulls while wearing the Air Jordan XVII. At his 13th All-Star Game, he wore the Air Jordan XVII Low in the white/lightning color.

During the 2001-2002 season, the XVII was worn by players including Kobe Bryant, Mike Bibby, Michael Finley and Eddie Jones.


Senior Footwear Designer Tate Kuerbis was named as the designer of the Air Jordan XVIII. Most of the inspiration for the XVIII design came from the high-end automobiles: sleek racing lines, F1 race cars and race car driving shoes. Fine Italian dress shoes also inspired the stitching on the Air Jordan XVIII outsole.

The AJ XVIII featured a one-piece leather upper, a carbon fiber comfort control plate incorporated into the insole, a hand-stitched outsole, dual-layer heel and forefoot Zoom Air cushioning. The Air Jordan XVII was released in a pull-out box with a cut-out "18" on the lid. It included a brush for the black suede colorway, a towel for cleaning and the Air Jordan XVIII Driver's Manual booklet. Jordan Brand did a "Love" campaign surrounding the release of the AJ XVIII, celebrating MJ's career and final year in the NBA.

Three colors of the Air Jordan XVIII were released in 2003. The Black/Royal model was made of suede, while the White/Royal and White/Red versions were made of leather. Two low versions were released in Black/Black and White/University blue. Along with the mids and lows, Brand Jordan released the Air Jordan 18.5 the primary difference in design was a perforated Jumpman logo on the side of the upper.

In 2002-2003, Michael Jordan was selected to his 14th and final NBA All-Star Game. During his final season, he wore the Air Jordan XVIII. Other NBA players wearing the shoe included Richard Hamilton, Scottie Pippen, Ray Allen, Mike Bibby, Michael Finley and Carmelo Anthony.

MJ's final NBA game was April 16, 2003, against the Philadelphia 76ers. He wore the White/Royal Air Jordan XVIII.


Senior Designer Tate Kuerbis headed the Air Jordan XIX design with support from Jason Mayden, Wilson Smith III, Josh Heard and Suzette Henri. Using the deadly black mamba as a design source, the AJ XIX featured lightweight, supportive Tech Flex material on the upper to create the lightest, most breathable Air Jordan to date. Tech Flex made the Air Jordan XIX flexible without sacrificing support or comfort.

The AJ XIX featured a carbon fiber shank plate, Phylon midsole, patent leather toe box, a Velcro heel strap and plastic lace-locks. A double-stacked heel and full-length Zoom Air ensured maximum cushioning.

The Air Jordan XIX's unique box opened from the middle and each shoe came in a netted bag. Five colors of the original Air Jordan XIX included the Black/Red, White/White/Grey, White/Black, White/Red and White/Navy. Four Air Jordan XIX SE colorways were released, as were four low-top models.

NBA players including Carmelo Anthony, Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, Michael Finley, Mike Bibby, Ray Allen and Richard Hamilton wore the Air Jordan XIX.


To commemorate 20 years of the Air Jordan, in 2005 legendary designer Tinker Hatfield returned to work on the Air Jordan XX. Hatfield drew inspiration from several sources in Jordan's life, including his love of motor sports.

The Air Jordan XX featured a breathable sphere lining, an integrated midfoot support strap, a floating ankle leash and an internalized impact distribution plate. The hidden lacing system and midfoot strap offered a lockdown performance fit. Independent Podular Suspension, a free-moving targeted cushioning technology, was introduced in the Air Jordan XX.

On the back heel of the Air Jordan XX the numbers 85 and 05, which signified the year the Air Jordan line was introduced and the year the XX released. The outsole of the Air Jordan XX displayed 20 herringbone pods that displayed the heritage of the Air Jordan franchise. Perhaps the most interesting highlight of the AJ XX was the laser-etched logo treatment on the strap of the XX. Created by Mark Smith, this design paid homage to Jordan's life.

The Air Jordan XX released in three original colorways: White/Red/Black, Black/Black/Red and White/Black/Red. Three regional colorways were also released: Chutney/White/Black, Red/White/Black and University Blue/White/Black. An Air Jordan XX low and a ¾ were also released in 2005.

Multiple NBA players wore the Air Jordan XX during the 2004-2005 season, including Ray Allen and Carmelo Anthony.


D'Wayne Edwards, the lead designer on the Air Jordan XX1, drew inspiration from a Bentley Continental GT coupe to combine style and substance in this version of the Air Jordan.

The XX1 featured a seamless diamond quilted bootie, super-clean upper and a lower foot air grille. The double-lasted Phylon midsole provided a low profile feel and a carbon fiber shank plate allowed for maximum midfoot and arch support. Possibly the most innovative component of the AJ XX1 was the evolution of the Independent Podular Suspension technology the wearer of the XX1 could choose between Zoom Air or encapsulated Air cushioning in the heel.

Two original colorways of the Air Jordan XX1 released in 2006. The White/Red model was made of full grain leather while the Red/Black was constructed of rich suede. Two low versions were also released in white and in black.

The commercial for the Air Jordan XX1 featured young athletes reenacting famous moments from Michael's career, including the shot on Craig Ehlo, recreations from the Slam Dunk contests, the "last shot," and the infamous "Michael shrug." The tagline of the commercial was "Let your game speak."


The super advanced F-22 Raptor fighter jet served as the inspiration for the D'Wayne Edwards as he set about designing the Air Jordan XX2. The sharp lines of the XX2's upper were patterned after the sharp maneuverability of the F-22, and the shoe's efficient sculpted design and a stable extended heel counter made it lightweight and supportive, similar to the fighter jet.

The Air Jordan XX2 featured a triangular quilted pattern on the collar and a seamless bootie that maximized comfort and breathability. The Air Jordan XX2 featured zigzag stitching inspired by the jet. The first titanium-coated shank plate was built into the XX2, as were titanium lace loops/lace locks. Invisible Independent Podular Suspension system, updated from the previous Air Jordan cushioning system, offered responsive double-stacked Zoom Air or shock-absorbing encapsulated Air. A fresh chevron pattern was introduced to the outsole to provide improved traction.

The Air Jordan XX2 was released during the 2007 All-Star weekend on Michael Jordan's 44th birthday, Feb. 17. Fifteen different colorways of the XX2 were issued, including a special edition made out of basketball leather. Colors representing Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Detroit and Seattle were also created.

Throughout the 2007-2008 season the Air Jordan XX2 was worn by Joe Johnson, Josh Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Richard Hamilton and Ray Allen. At the 2007 All-Star game in Las Vegas, Rip Hamilton and Ray Allen wore Player Exclusive Air Jordan XX2.


Michael Jordan made 23 one of the most famous numbers in sports history, and it made sense that the Air Jordan XX3 was the most anticipated sneaker in footwear history. Tinker Hatfield returned to lead the design, and his take included new technology and craftsmanship to deliver a timeless addition to the Air Jordan line.

The XX3 was the first basketball shoe to incorporate the Nike Considered construction system, which reduced waste and used environmentally friendly materials without affecting the performance of the shoe. MJ's initials are stitched on each colorway's upper. The XX3 features a hand-stitched upper, articulated chassis, full-length quilted bootie, carbon fiber shank plate and reinforced quarter panels.

The XX3 has the lowest profile midsole of any of the Air Jordans. Cushioning is supplied by Zoom Air and tuned IPS pillars. The tongues of each shoes feature two different logos: the left shoe has a Jumpman and the right shoe has the "23" logo. The outsole was modeled after MJ's thumbprint. The print is also seen on the inside of the tongue to represent the impact and identity of Michael Jordan. MJ's signature was also included on the toe box.

To create buzz around the Air Jordan XX3, 23 pairs of the Titanium model were released at the top 23 locations in the United States, retailing for $230. An All-Star colorway was released in February of 2008 and other colorways including the White/Red, Grey/White/Black/Gold and Stealth were released shortly after. A series of three more versions were produced to commemorate Jordan's three teams: Black/University Blue/White for UNC, Black/Red/White for the Bulls and Black/Royal/White for the Wizards. After the general releases, 23 pairs of a black/red XX3 were released at the top 23 locations just like the Titanium launch.

The XX3 could be seen on many NBA players throughout the season. Chris Paul, Ray Allen and Carmelo Anthony wore the Air Jordan XX3 in the NBA All-Star game. The Air Jordan XX3 was the last numbered Air Jordan shoe in the series. Future Air Jordans would be named for the year it was created.


Following the Air Jordan XX3, Brand Jordan continued the iconic Air series but transitioned away from the numbered system. After the XX3, the Air Jordan game shoe was named after the year it was released. Senior Footwear Designer Jason Mayden was given the task of designing the Air Jordan 2009. Focusing on MJ's defensive game, Mayden drew inspiration from the sport of fencing where skill, strategy and athleticism are key to success. The design is influenced by the Air Jordan I and the use of panache leather goes back to the style of the Air Jordan XI. The 2009 was the second Air Jordan created using the Nike Considered process, which focuses on utilizing low waste, water-based solvent materials that don't harm the environment.

The upper has a sleek pleated satin material for increased durability, greater ventilation and lockdown fit. The lightweight design contours the foot for maximum responsiveness and support.

The AJ 2009 has a Phylon midsole for impact absorption and forefoot Zoom Air to for cushioning. The TPU chassis (inspired by glass sculpture) is different on every shoe, making each pair unique. The carbon fiber arch plate assists midfoot support and performance.

As with the XX3, Articulated Propulsion Technology cushioning allows for quick lateral movement on the court. The herringbone outsole features grooves that naturally flex, making for excellent multi-directional traction.

The 2009 originally launched in two colorways, White/Black/Grey and Black/Varsity Red. It was then released in the Black/Metallic Gold S23 colorway, which was limited to 2,009 pairs. Later in 2009, the Black/Varsity Red/White/Metallic Gold Hall of Fame colorway was released to commemorate MJ's induction.

At the 2009 NBA All-Star game, Joe Johnson, Chris Paul and Ray Allen of Team Jordan wore the Air Jordan 2009 PE. Chris Paul wore the White/Red colorway while Johnson and Allen wore White/Navy versions.


In 2010, the Air Jordan line turned 25. Coming off the AJ 2009 designed by Jason Mayden, Jordan Brand taps into renowned designers Tinker Hatfield and Mark Smith to craft the 25th Air Jordan.

Continuing the unique style of the Air Jordan line, Hatfield and Smith went with a clear window on the side of the shoe meant to symbolize looking inside of Michael Jordan and his game. The midsole features a uniquely hidden quote from Michael. The asymmetrical collar makes a return to the Air Jordan line with a higher medial side of the collar and the lateral side dropping lower than normal.

The 2010 has a clean toe and features a forefoot that is independent from the rest of the shoe, with a six-row stitch to hold the toe piece together. It features clear TPU in only the essential areas on the shoe. The lightweight Phylon? midsole is carved out and contoured for the best on-court performance. A full-length Zoom Air? unit is bottom-loaded inside the outsole of the shoe to disperse shock. That feature is borrowed from running shoes and has never been seen on a basketball shoe until now.

The 2010 is a lightweight, great-fitting shoe that is low to the ground. It's built to feel broken-in on the first wear. It has a thinner Air bag that provides the player with a better ability to feel the floor. The sneaker caters to the modern basketball player who needs to get up and down the court faster and more often. It features a comfortable, glove-like fit assuring the shoe fits snugly against the foot. The protruding outrigger provides excellent lateral stability.

This 25th Air Jordan is another Considered product that avoids using harmful toxins and is constructed using fewer glues, less stitching, less energy, and less waste while utilizing environmentally friendly materials.

As Jordan Brand celebrates their Silver Anniversary, Dwyane Wade is now the face of the brand. The 2010 was launched with Michael Jordan and D-Wade unveiling the shoe to the world in November of '09. The first colorway released on 2/13/10.


For the Air Jordan 2011, the Jordan Brand turned to respected design veterans Tinker Hatfield and Tom Luedecke. By being closely involved with the process and having an extremely intelligent, innovative team in place, Michael Jordan has helped maintain the high standards that are expected when it comes to elite Jordan products like the Air Jordan 2011.

There are several unique elements of the Jordan 2011 that highlight the high-quality craftsmanship, such as the fade of color in the leather, which can be hand-buffed for a change in color. In addition, the Jordan 2011 features a distinctive perforated pattern on the upper, a dynamic fit system and two mesh windows for breathability. This attention to detail is what makes the 2011 such an extraordinary product. To top it off, the 2011 features a crazy lacing system - set up like "five little seatbelts" - and a brilliant insole/cushioning system.

There are two cushioning options that come with the Air Jordan 2011. The red insoles are for the explosive player, and feature soft Cushlon foam with a full-length air bag, creating a very responsive option for your feet. The blue insoles are made for the player looking for quickness. The blue alternative, which encompasses compression Phylon, Zoom Air technology in the heel and forefoot, is more about impact-protection. Designer Tom Luedecke said MJ gave the analogy of a warrior choosing his weapon before going into battle when referring to the player picking which insole to use.

Regardless of your style of play, the superiorly crafted Air Jordan 2011 looks good and gives you multiple options to customize your ride on the court.


Air Jordan 2011 design veterans Tinker Hatfield and Tom Luedecke joined creative forces once again to create the Air Jordan 2012. The pair drew inspiration from the dancing shoes of the 1920s and '30s, when jazz music was all the rage. The people who danced in these wingtip shoes were considered bold, confident and youthful, just like the AJ 2012.

The Air Jordan 2012 is designed around the idea of "One Shoe, Three Flights." This is a reference to the three different midsole cushioning options that allow ballers to control the game based on their individual playing styles. The "Fly Around" midsole is meant for quick perimeter players who rely on speed and agility to reach the basket. It features forefoot foam and a Zoom Air unit in the heel. The "Fly Over" midsole is for the player that relies on elevation and off-the-ground explosiveness to impact the game. This midsole has a Zoom Air unit in the forefoot and an encapsulated Air Sole unit in the heel for a soft landing. The power player looking to control the inside is offered the "Fly Through" sole, which has a full-length Air Sole unit for an ideal amount of impact protection.

Like the midsole options, the choice of which innersleeve to use depends on your style of play. The low-cut sleeve works well for the quick player seeking a greater range of motion. The high-cut sleeve enhances the overall ankle support, stability and foot protection.

Of course, the AJ 2012 couldn't be a high-performing sneaker without a well-constructed outer shell. Hatfield and Luedecke brought many new performance innovations to the table, which include the debut of a Jordan specific carbon-weave shank plate for superior midfoot stability. The wingtip on the toe-box has tight double stitching and perforations in the shape of an 'M' as a reference to the man, Jordan, himself. Thin lines throughout the midsole give the shoe some extra style while also serving as scratch marks that represent Jordan's "Black Cat" nickname.


The unveiling of the newest Air Jordan model always has been a big deal. But the AJ XX8 carried that sense of mystery around with it.

The latest installment in the legendary Jordan Brand lineup, designed by Tinker Hatfield and released in February 2013, featured all the cushioning and stability technologies one might expect from Jordan's flagship model. But it all lived behind a shroud, enabling the wearer to decide just how much to reveal.

Several AJs, from the AJ XVI on, featured a shroud or a lace cover of some type. The sock-like shroud of the AJ XX8, comprised of a high-end material from Schoeller textiles in Switzerland, featured a zipper front that folded down neatly to reveal a "2" on the medial (outside) of one shoe and a "3" on the medial of the other (denoting Michael Jordan's iconic jersey number). It offers a blank slate that Jordan Brand has promised to use for a variety of eye-catching colorways during the shoe's life cycle.

The AJ XX8 featured a number of technologies: Zoom Air unit for low-profile cushioning, all-new Jordan Flight Plate, dynamic Fit straps for flexible support, carbon fiber heel counter for support, mesh upper for flexibility and ventilation. The new Jordan Flight Plate that debuted in the midsole of the AJ XX8 was about two years in development. It consisted of a moderator plate, the Zoom Air unit, and rubber.

Designers started with a Nike Shox plate, added air bags, and knew they were getting close. It evolved to consist of a carbon fiber plate designed to deflect force and maximize the Zoom Air and its low-profile responsiveness. This enabled the separation of the forefoot and heel for the first time in the Air Jordan lineage.

For added stability, the AJ XX8 included a molded, carbon-fiber external heel counter that served as a natural extension of the Flight Plate.


Released in September 2014 to honor the Year of the Goat, the Air Jordan XX9 was the lightest ever created in the AJ line and mixed premium elements of aesthetics and technology.

The revolutionary upper consisted of a performance-woven single piece, designed to eliminate excessive layering. This finish allowed a wide-open design canvas, which debuted ? and continued in some colorways ? with an oversized Jumpman logo.

"It’s actually made in a special weaving machine," Hatfield said at the official unveiling on April 17, 2014. "Which does create a web of fibers, and it all comes together in one sort of seamless process."

Hatfield designed this upper to allow structure, support, interior comfort, and exterior abrasion resistance in a style inspired by an Italian label manufacturer. This upper alleviated an issue in previous versions, where the old practice of adding layers could create problem areas.

"In previous shoes, way back when," Hatfield added, "in order to make a shoe stronger, we would have to add another layer of something else and then that might create a hotspot, right? I mean, you could feel it."

The flexible, sock-like feel for which Hatfield aimed in the AJ XX9 came from Flight Web tunnels and strategic panels of stiffer and softer flex material. These were engineered to enhance natural motion, while webbed straps wrapped the foot and integrated with the laces at the midfoot to move with the foot.

A double-lasted heel helped to cushion impact, and articulated padding in the ankle collar added to the premium look as well as the feel.

"Being able to put that big logo on the shoe," Jordan said, "is actually saying that the innovation and the technology and everything about that product is Jordan approved."

The AJ XX9 features an updated Flight Plate, a Pebax thermoplastic elastomer engineered to harness the energy of each leap and step to enable an explosive liftoff. This is designed to maximize the responsiveness of the low-profile Nike Zoom Air units in the forefoot. The plate?s managed compression and deflection creates a larger sweet spot, according to the Jordan brand. The Air Jordan XX9 links the forefoot and heel with a tendril ? a small bridge of outsole ? aimed at smoothing out the heel-to-toe transition.