A Look Back Review: Nike Air Jordan III

Air Jordan III Retro True Blue

The shoe that saved Nike.

It may sound preposterous, but Michael Jordan was actually on the brink of terminating his endorsement deal with Nike due to the fact that the Air Jordan I and II fell far below his expectations, with the I even contributing to the foot injury that kept him out for most of his sophomore season.

Despite the near divorce, once Michael laid eyes on his third signature sneaker designed by Tinker Hatfield in 1988, things took a turn for the absolute best.  A quick scolding from his beloved father, the late James Jordan, also helped keep his Airness in check.

The dunk seen around the world.

The Nike Air Jordan III is widely considered as one of the best from MJ’s line and even said to be his personal favorite.  I mean, the man did throw the entire world into a frenzy when he took off from the free throw line and threw down one of the most legendary dunks of all time to oust Dominique Wilkins who was no slouch himself, in these kicks.  Michael also became the first player in NBA history to earn both Defensive Player of the Year honors and the league scoring title in the same season while wearing these sneakers.

The III set a landmark precedent for Nike as their first ever shoe to feature a visible air bag unit in the midsole, which is a visual characteristic that is now synonymous with many of the sportswear giant’s shoes.  This sneaker was also the very first to be tagged with MJ’s signature Jumpman logo, originally etched only on the tongue, but later stamped onto the heel counter as well, replacing the “NIKE AIR” logo.  But of course, the main highlight on these kicks has always been and will forever be the elephant skin print on the upper above the forefoot and heel ends of the polyurethane midsole, which keeps the III amongst the most unique in the Jordan line.

We also can’t forget the “Mars and Mike” marketing ploy that revolutionized the methods by which sportswear products were advertised.  The now timeless series of commercials during the late 80’s and early 90’s all began with the Air Jordan III and Mars was able to really take the shoe from the court to the streets, igniting a pop culture trend that has withstood the test of time ever since.

Pure genius.

While the 1994 Retro release of the Nike Air Jordan III was met with lackluster sales, subsequent Retro releases were definitely welcomed by occasional collectors and devoted aficionados.  Whether you want to rock these on the hardwood or out in the city, regardless of the colorway, you will hardly ever fail to steal passing glances.  Again, you can thank the elephant skin for that.

If you leave without watching the always entertaining “Mars and Michael” spot for the Air Jordan III, you will be doing yourself a great injustice!

[Original Release: 1988; Weight: 18.6 oz.; Price: $100-$300; Players: Michael Jordan]

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