A 19th Century women’s shoe called the Nisshoki and the Japanese flag were the inspiration behind the Air Jordan 12. The land of the rising sun and its flag at the time with sun rays scattering at different angles were mimicked beautifully on the upper of the Air Jordan 12. Still puzzled? Look at the stitching down the sides of the shoe. The high heel on the shoe of course came from the Nisshoki.
Michael had always been a man of different tastes. He had an eye for fashion and knew how to stand out. On the Jordan 12, he figured he wanted his beloved ’23’ to appear like this on the tongue – “Two 3” and that’s what he got. The Air Jordan 12 was also the first Air Jordan to have a Zoom Air unit. The Jordan 12’s also retained the carbon arch plate from the Air Jordan 11. The AJ12 had Scottie Pippen swooning and he even dumped his own max air system over these.
Yet another design from the legendary Tinker Hatfield, the Jordan 12 released in 1996 and the Black/Red colorway that MJ wore during Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz came to be known as “The Flu Game.” Michael had fallen ill in the middle of the night prior to that game, and his appearance was questionable as he lay on a table in the locker room right up until game time. But he dragged himself up and onto the court. Not only did he play, he created a performance for the ages as he led all scorers with 38 points, including a big 3-pointer that put Chicago up for good with 25 seconds to play. The shoe he wore during that game is known among collectors as “Flu Game XII.”
With the AJ XII on his feet, he made his 11th All-Star game in those, won his ninth NBA scoring title and was named first-team All-NBA and first-team All-Defense. He won his fifth NBA title and NBA Finals MVP while wearing the XII.