Air Jordan VI (1990)
Model: Nike Air Jordan VI | Style: White/Black/Carmine
One of the most iconic sneakers of the early ‘90s, the Air Jordan VI marks the beginning of a champion legacy, with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls winning the first Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) award and the first NBA Larry O’Brien championship trophy in the team’s history respectively, against Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers.
The model, designed by the legendary Tinker Hatfield, was, also, the first one to incorporate a molded heel cap for avoiding possible Achilles tendon injuries.
Air Jordan VII (1991)
Model: Nike Air Jordan VII | Style: White/Black/Cardinal/Bronze
Another one of MJ’s iconic sneakers, the Air Jordan VII; this time not only marking a repeat of a Finals MVP award and a NBA championship trophy in a row, against Clyde “The Glide” Drexler’s Portland Trail Blazers, but also the historic synthesis of the greatest legends of modern sports, the “Dream Team”.
Mike wore a USA inspired colorway of his signature shoes, during the effortless chase of an unbeatable group towards the gold medal in the 1992 Olympics, in Barcelona, Spain.
This shoe was, again, designed by Tinker Hatfield, and was featured in a Nike TV spot starring “His Airness” and the Looney Tunes favorite cartoon character, Bugs Bunny, who also wore his own shoes, the Hare Jordans, and together they teamed up against some bullies who harass Bugs on the court.
Air Jordan VIII (1992)
Model: Nike Air Jordan VIII | Style: White/Black/Grey/Varsity Red
This one, once again, designed by Tinker Hatfield, marks the third Finals MVP and NBA championship of Jordan and the Bulls against Charles “The Round Mound of Rebound” Barkley’s Phoenix Suns, and the first of the two three-peats of the team’s franchise record. It also marks the ending of an era, with Michael retiring in 1993 after three consecutive championship trophies, mvp awards and a gold medal.
The Air Jordan VII was too featured in a Nike TV spot, again starring Mike and Bugs against Marvin the Martian, who stole a bunch of Nike sneakers, and demanded Mike to hand over his own sneakers too.
Air Jordan IX (1993)
Model: Nike Air Jordan IX | Style: White/Black/Varsity Red
This model was released after Michael Jordan retired for the first time in 1993, after the first Chicago Bulls three-peat.
Jordan was already a global icon, cementing himself – with a statue built outside the newly structured United Center, home of the team – as the greatest basketball player of all time. Tinker Hatfield surely created a model emphasizing the scale of Michael Jordan’s worldwide impact, with the engravings of the outsole in multiple languages telling a “story” about MJ’s unique mentality.
The statue of Michael is wearing the same model as the one talked about.
The absence of Michael from the NBA, lead Nike to promote a series of ads starring the comedian Steve Martin as a journalist who investigates Michael’s life, with Jordan supposedly faking the fact he retired and adopting the persona of “Johnny Kilroy”, an imaginative player of different teams who inevitably bears a striking resemblance with MJ’s style of play.
His Airness, also, sported the shoes during the practice scene in the Looney Tunes movie, “Space Jam”.
Air Jordan X (1994)
Model: Nike Air Jordan X | Style: White/Black/Steel Grey
The model was released by the time Michael Jordan was playing Baseball in the Minor League Baseball (MLB) for the Birmingham Barons, and it was a special one.
The reason was the fact its outsole featured engravings of Jordan’s accomplishments from his Rookie year till his first retirement. Funny thing, though, on the last line of the engravings there was the word “Beyond”, as if Nike knew there was still a lot to come for Michael’s career, like a foreshadowing of his unexpected return at the NBA spotlight.
His teammate, Scottie Pippen, sported the specific model numerous times in classic Chicago Bulls colorways, as a sign of respect towards MJ’s legacy. Also, during his absence he was the one who briefly took the mantle of the team’s leader.
This pair of shoes was also the first one “His Airness” himself wore, when he returned to the NBA, in the “Double Nickel” regular season game against John Starks’ New York Knicks.
This pair also was released in a variant model with his brother’s, Larry Jordan, favorite number “45” stitched on it, the one Michael briefly had printed on his basketball jersey – and the one he had on his baseball jersey also – before switching to his good old number “23”.
Air Jordan XI (1995)
Model: Nike Air Jordan XI | Style: White/Black/Concord Blue
This one is arguably the most memorable basketball sneaker of the 90s and, perhaps, the most iconic sneaker of the modern sports history.
Tinker Hatfield brought the best out of himself in the design process, creating a pair of shoes that was a real piece of art! Who could possibly think, except for Nike, would be a good idea to incorporate luxurious patent leather in the body of an already sleek shoe mold?
A handful of players, including Michael Jordan’s teammate, Ron Harper, sported the famous sneakers, and celebrities from the art world like Will Smith and Busta Rhymes also showed a deep affection for the XIs.
Jordan briefly had “45” on these shoes too, but it was later replaced by “23”.
Let’s not forget to mention the fact that both iconic sneakers, the Air Jordan XI and the Nike Air More Uptempo, worn by Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen respectively, were connected with the historic 72-10 run of the Chicago Bulls, and the 4th NBA Championship the team won against Gary Payton’s and Shawn Kemp’s Seattle Supersonics in the 6th Game of the NBA Finals on Father’s Day, an emotional victory Michael dedicated to his late father, James.
The Air Jordan XIs were the ones MJ wore during the game between Tune Squad and Monstars, in the Epic Looney Tunes film, “Space Jam”. Nike, also, created a TV spot showing Michael Jordan, sporting the XIs and dunking to a 100ft hoop, and then hanging with no way getting down.
Air Jordan XII (1996)
Model: Nike Air Jordan XII | Style: White/Black/Varsity Red/Taxi Yellow
Tinker has a habit of crafting spectacular sneakers, and that’s the case with the XIIs mold inspired by the apparently feminine 19th century women’s boots called “Nisshoki”, and the overall stitching by the “Rising Sun” on the Japanese flag. Undoubtedly the Asian tone gave the shoes a finesse character.
It was the first Air Jordan to use Zoom Air technology instead of the traditional Air used in the past models.
Nike didn’t waste time creating memorable TV spots, one known as “Frozen Moment” where it shows Michael doing his thing in slo-mo, and another one known as “Doubt Me” where it shows Jordan asking the doubters to challenge about his level of play despite him being in his mid-30s.
The shoes gained more popularity with the infamous “Flu Game” against the Karl Malone and John Stockton’s Utah Jazz, when MJ gave one of the best performances of his career, with 38 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 block, within a span of 44’ playtime, under flu-like symptoms.
Air Jordan XIII (1997)
Model: Air Jordan XIII | Style: White/Black/Varsity Red
It’s the first model of the Air Jordan series by the newly founded Jordan Brand, a subsidiary of Nike. It was the first called simply Air Jordan, not Nike Air Jordan.
This time Tinker drew inspiration from the black panther’s deadly movement, signifying Michael’s killer instincts on the court. The shoe’s outsole resembles the paw, while the green translucent orb on the side heel – with a hologram of Jumpman logo and number 23 – resembles the eye.
It’s also the previous to last pair of sneakers Jordan wore before he retired for the second time; he wore the next model, the Air Jordan XIV, only once, in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals.
Nike’s TV spot showed Michael living a double life, as the CEO of Jordan Brand in the fictional Jordan Brand Building in Chicago performing various tasks like sneaker quality checks, and as the Chicago Bulls player in the starting lineup; Mike is in a rush to catch a game, and starts jumping from rooftops and bridges, only to arrive in the nick of time wearing loafers instead of sneakers, with his teammate Ron Harper wondering if he’s wearing new Js.
The XIIIs were also featured in the Spike Lee film, “He Got Game”, starring the Hollywood actor and Oscar winner Denzel Washington, and the legendary NBA player and Jordan Brand ambassador Ray Allen of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Jordan Jumpman Team (1997)
Model: Jordan Jumpman Team | Style: White/Black/Royal Blue
Jordan Brand launched a secondary series of Jordan sneakers, the Jumpman Team line. This model was worn by various Jordan Brand endorsed players (i.e. Ray Allen of the Milwaukee Bucks, Michael Finley of the Dallas Mavericks, etc.) and by numerous Michael Jordan’s teammates.
Jordan Jumpman Team Pro (1997)
Model: Jordan Jumpman Team Pro | Style: Black/White/Varsity Red
This one was a variant model of the original Jumpman Team line, the Pro model, was also spotted on players’ feet, like Eddie Jones of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Air Jordan XIV (1998)
Model: Air Jordan XIV | Style: Black/University Red/Ferrari Yellow
Michael Jordan made the “Last Shot” over Bryon Russell of the Utah Jazz in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals wearing this unreleased pair of sneaker, the XIVs.
Tinker and Michael used Mike’s Ferrari 350M as a source for design material of the shoes – hence the Ferrari-like emblem with the Jordan logo on the outer side of the shoes – crafting an aerodynamic model, ideal for a swift guard like MJ.
This model marks the end of an era, the closing chapter of Jordan and the Bulls dynasty in a 3-2 situation, with “His Airness” finishing the game in a dramatic fashion, and thereafter retiring again for a while.
It’s the second model from the primary series of Js by Jordan Brand.
Jordan Jumpman Team II (1998)
Model: Jordan Jumpman Team II | Style: White/Black/Gym Red
The second Jumpman Team model following the release of the Air Jordan XIV. This one was also a pair of shoes for the Jordan Brand endorsed players.
Jordan Jumpman Team Pro II (1998)
Model: Jordan Jumpman Team Pro II | Style: Black/White/Navy Blue
The second Jumpman Team Pro model, also a variant of the second Jumpman Team model.
Air Jordan XV (1999)
Model: Air Jordan XV | Style: Black/Steel Grey
Nike didn’t stop producing Air Jordans, despite the fact Michael was not in the league, though this time the result of the produced pair was a bit controversial; a few Air Jordan fans liked it, even though it was promoted as Ray Allen’s signature sneaker, but many expressed mediocre interest. As Tinker Hatfield himself admitted, this model was not one of his favorite creations; its obvious weird look of clogs made of wicker and the tongue – inspired by MJ’s actual tongue – sticking out didn’t really appeal to the public.