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The Seven Jordans Behind Michael Jordan's Three-Peats

Image via Medium

Michael Jordan is not only known for his star-studded basketball career but also his sneakers; the Air Jordan.

In 1984 when Michael Jordan entered the NBA Draft, he was selected by the Chicago Bulls as the third pick in the first round. Shortly after, he signed with David Falk and Donald Dell to ProServ sports management firm. As seen in episode five of The Last Dance 10-part Netflix docuseries, Falk Jordan's agent discussed what lead up to the Nike deal. At the time Converse was the official shoe of the NBA but already had big-name players Magic Johnson, Dr J, Larry Bird and Bernard King leaving no space for a rookie like MJ. Jordan wanted to sign with Adidas, but Adidas wasn't able to make him a shoe.

Then came an underdog; Nike. Who offered Jordan a five-year deal worth $500,000 annually with a shoe included. After Falk coined the name 'Air Jordan' for the sneaker, Nike's expectation by the end of year four was that they would sell $3 million worth of Air Jordans, but in year one they sold $126 million. Since signing his first deal in 1984, Michael Jordan has made over $1 billion from Nike, and still holds the title for the biggest shoe deal of any NBA player.

1991 NBA Finals - Air Jordan 6

The Air Jordan 6 'Black Infrared' was Jordan's chosen sneaker as he went up against Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers in his first trip to the NBA Finals. The Porsche 911 car Jordan owned inspired this colourway. It features a black nubuck upper, neon red accents and an icy outsole.

Designer: Tinker Hatfield

Releases: 1991, 2000, 2010, 2010, 2014 and 2019.

Images via Pinterest, Sneakerpedia and Nice Kicks

1992 NBA Finals - Air Jordan 7

In his second NBA Finals MJ donned the Air Jordan 7 'Raptors' as he faced the Portland Trail Blazers. Designed with the Toronto Raptors in mind the Air Jordan 7 Raptors has a black nubuck upper, with purple and red accents on the midsole and grey details on the tongue and heels.

Designer: Tinker Hatfield

Releases: 1992, 2002 and 2012.

Images via Pinterest, Sneaker News and The New York Times

1993 NBA Finals - Air Jordan 8

Facing off against the Phoenix Suns the Air Jordan 8 'Playoffs' were the shoes that completed Jordan's first three-peat. They were also the first Air Jordan not to feature the Nike logo. Black suede wraps around the upper with straps at the neck with red, black and white geometric lining. To bring everything together below a grey midsole blue, black, white and red accents appear on the outsole.

Designer: Tinker Hatfield

Releases: 1993 and 2007.

Images via Sole Collector and Sneaker News

1996 NBA Finals - Air Jordan 11

After going 72-10 in the regular season - only bested by the 15/16 Golden State Warriors - the Chicago Bulls went up against the Seattle SuperSonics. Michael Jordan once again laced up the Air Jordan 11 'Bred', his favourite silhouette out of all Air Jordan models. Black patent leather covers the Bred 11 upper which is complemented by a white midsole and translucent red rubber outsole. To this day, black and red; Bred is the most iconic Air Jordan colourway, but the Bred 11 marked Jordan's return to the NBA Finals and his first Championship after retirement.

Designer: Tinker Hatfield

Releases: 1996, 2001, 2008, 2012 and 2019.

Images via Nice Kicks, The Undefeated and Sole Collector

1997 NBA Finals - Air Jordan 12

In their fifth trip to the NBA Finals, the Chicago Bulls opponent was the Utah Jazz, in this series, Michael Jordan wore two Jordans 12s, for Games 1, 2 and 6 Jordan was dribbling across the court in the Air Jordan 12 'Playoff'. They featured a panelled black leather upper with a white mudguard and a white outsole with black and grey features.

Designer: Tinker Hatfield

Releases: 1997, 2004 and 2014.

In Games 3, 4 and 5 Jordan had swapped the Playoff 12 for a Bred colourway. Game 5 was the moment the Air Jordan 12 'Flu Game' was born. Jordan felt sick with the flu but put on his uniform and went out onto the court. It was clear Jordan was struggling yet somehow he ended up with 38 points. The Flu Game 12s are the ever-famous combination of black and red. A panelled black leather upper paired with a red mudguard and red outsole with black features.

Designer: Tinker Hatfield

Releases: 1997, 2003, 2009 and 2016.

Images via Getty / Dick Raphael, Bleacher Report and Sole Collector

1998 NBA Finals - Air Jordan 13 and Air Jordan 14

To conclude his second 3-peat and secure their sixth Championship, Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were up against the Utah Jazz for a second time. In this series similar to the 1997 Finals Jordan wore two colourways for the Air Jordan 13, for Game 1 he wore the Air Jordan 13 'Bred'. The black ballistic mesh upper features a red suede trim and a black tumbled leather toe. To balance out the red, black and white outsole 3m reflective panelling is visible on the upper.

Designer: Tinker Hatfield