Nike Air versus the Jumpman. While it is rumored that the “Yeezy has jumped over the Jumpman”, Nike Air has always reigned supreme. When Michael Jordan came into the league in 1985 he was the 3rd pick in the draft. That means two teams passed on him for a reason (sorry Sam Bowie). But Nike chose not to overlook the potential in MJ and decided to target him to bring their basketball line to new heights. Once Jordan agreed to become the new face of Nike Basketball and create his own line, he would become the brands most popular attraction.
So big in fact, that in 1997, Jordan had to create his own subsidiary division of Nike known as Jordan Brand. This division has caused some disagreement over retro Jordan models, and in turn the customers who pay good money for shoes have been getting less than 100% accurate representations of original reproductions. Swapping out a logo may seem like a small detail, but any true sneakerhead knows, there is no replacing Nike Air. With multiple releases slated for 2013 to include the Nike Air logo (including the recently unveiled Nike Air Jordan 3 ’88) we proudly bring to you the Top 5 Air Jordans that need to be retro’ed in their intended form. Let us know in the comments section how you feel about the list and what changes, if any, you would make.
#5. Air Jordan 1 “Chicago” – 1985
The Air Jordan 1 is the one that started it all. With no Jumpmans to speak of (this wasn’t introduced until the 3) it legitimately looks weird to see a Jordan silhouette on many of the new retros. Luckily we were treated to the Air Jordan 1 “Banned” which featured Nike Air on the nylon tongue tag, but we have yet to see a general release of an original colorway for all of the masses to enjoy. The 2013 version is a high top at least, but it is not OG, hence we get the Jumpman on the tongue. This shoe is #5 on the list solely for the fact that the Nike Air implementation is less impactful than other shoes — it is only featured in small print on the tongue.
#4. Air Jordan 6 “September Blue” – 1991
There can be a case made that either “Infrared” models could have taken this spot on the list. But honestly, how many of you even remember this shoe? The majority of Air Jordan’s signature colorways feature some black and red in them, and the “September Blue” is a refreshing change of pace. Featuring a white base, the iconic blue runs across the midsole as well as accents the heel tab, tongue, and lace locks. With a black liner and tongue, the shoe receives a nice balance so it is really an all around great looking shoe. Nike Air on the heel is stitched in white which makes it more subtle, but also more noticeably absent when you replace it with a glaring Jumpman logo.
#3. Air Jordan 5 “Fire Red” – 1990
The Air Jordan 5 had some interesting colorways. The “Grapes” are a cult favorite, the “Metallic” black version was a favorite of MJ’s for road games, and we were treated to 2 different versions of “Fire Red’s”. This example features the black midsole which also does not feature the “23” logo stitched onto the lateral heel plate. With a 3M reflective tongue, red “teeth” on the midsole, and an icy outsole, this shoe was not lacking in character. The Fire Red 5 has seen it’s share of retro’s and even had Nike Air on the heel when it was first brought back in 2000, but the general public surely needs a fresh batch to re-up.
#2. Air Jordan 3 “Black Cement” – 1988
The announcement of the Air Jordan 3 88′ “Cement” has taken care of half of the necessary Nike Air retros for the 3 line (the fire red and true blue don’t stack up to cements). If you ask anyone who owns Jordan’s, many of them will say that this might be the best Jordan ever, and some will say the best sneaker ever. Back in 1988 after some missteps with pricing and design of the Air Jordan 2, Nike brought in legendary Tinker Hatfield to take over design direction for the 3. With Jordan and Tinker, a new era of sneakers was born. The classic silhouette, cement print, perforated leather, a visible Air unit — there was a lot to like about this shoe. Things just feel right in the world when Nike Air is on the back of these.
#1 Air Jordan 4 Black/Cement Grey – 1989
Fire Red. Military Blue. Cement. The 4 is just an all around classic. 1994 was the first year Nike experimented with retro Jordan’s by re-releasing the 1 and 2 models, and the world wasn’t quite ready. Come 1999, Nike decided to take another crack at this retro thing, and they needed a shoe to get them off the ground. They could have chosen any shoe at this point as Michael’s catalogue was already deep and there were plenty of colorways to choose from, but everything changed once the black and red Air Jordan 4 hit shelves again. It was a sight for sore eyes. People walking by in those unmistakable pairs — Nike hangtags, netting along the mid panels, that crazy sandwich of grey, red and black coming at you from the front. When someone wearing these made it past you there was a final piece of nostalgia to give you a fuzzy feeling inside withNike Air on the heel. Once they marched along it became immediately apparent that you had to drop whatever you were doing and head to the nearest Footlocker. The AJ3 and the AJ4 could easily be a 1A and 1B scenario, you really can’t go wrong with either. We chose the Air Jordan 4 because its the one that started the retro craze and it only looks complete when you have that familiar logo on the back (sorry 2012 owners).
Some photos courtesy of Sunshining7 via Niketalk