The early 90s were times of great change in the NBA, and in the sneaker world as well.
The Chicago Bulls had just become the first team to win three consecutive titles since the Boston Celtics in the mid-1960s, and Michael Jordan had stunned the world by announcing his retirement from the game he had spent the past few years utterly dominating.
But do you think that slowed legendary sneaker designer Tinker Hatfield and the team at Nike down? Absolutely not.
Before the brand even knew Jordan was leaning towards retirement, Jumpman had started work on the next iteration of his signature model.
Dubbing it the “Air Jordan International” in development, the Air Jordan 9 was a shoe the brand acknowledges as having the deepest storytelling of the entire line.
Jordan had gone from Chicago star to worldwide icon, and Hatfield wanted to build that narrative into the design of the AJ 9.
Mark Smith was tapped to bring the story to life, with the outsole incorporating phrases from Michael’s life ethos in different languages to portray the way basketball had become a true global game.
Now, almost 30 years later, there’s absolutely no denying basketball’s international reach, and the release of the Air Jordan 9 later this month continues to tell that story.
The Air Jordan 9 Retro ‘University Gold’ comes looking like winter itself: heavy on the black and charcoal on fine nubuck leather, while bright hits of University Gold peek through on the branding, pull tab and sockliner like the sun through the clouds.