1987-88 was a ground breaking season for his airness – Michael Jordan. Even though the Air Jordan brand kicked things off in 1985, many say it’s the Air Jordan 3 that truly established the brand’s greatness. Designed by Tinker Hatfield, a legendary sneaker designer over at Nike, Jordan 3 was the first shoe to feature:
a) A visible Nike Air unit
b) The Jumpman Logo
c) The first Air Jordan designed by Tinker
d) An unmistakable mid-top silhouette
While the design was ahead of its time and defied certain traditional approaches, the shoe earned its pages in the history books due to what Michael Jordan went on to achieve in the ’87-88 season in that shoe. Even though MJ was unable to win the NBA Championship in the AJ3, he had every other remaining accolade to his name:
- NBA All-Star
- NBA All-Star Game MVP
- NBA Defensive Player of the Year
- NBA Most Valuable Player
- NBA Scoring Champion
- NBA Slam Dunk Contest Title
- NBA Steal Champion
Tinker was inspired by luxury handbags and decided to give the upper on the AJ3 a spin with materials similar to the Jordan 2. However, he also added elements like eye-stay, toe cap, and a heel accent featuring the infamous elephant print. The pattern has since been synonymous with the Air Jordan 3 and has been used on a variety of accessories.
After being dismissed from making any more Jordan kicks after the Air Jordan 2, designers Peter Moore and Bruce Kilgore parted ways with Nike. Both tried to convince MJ to leave Nike and follow the duo, an offer that he wisely refused. With their departure, Tinker had the playground to himself. Also notoriously famous for designing the Air Huarache and some other Nike shoes that were considered ahead of their time in terms of materials, comfort and looks, Tinker worked closely with MJ on a variety of ideas.
Nike’s marketing campaign made the AJ3 all the more special than it already was. Spike Lee and MJ did a number of funny ad commercials that made the shoe break into the mass market and stayed there for good. At the time of their release, the shoes retailed for $100.00. Just like the AJ2 and AJ2, when Nike increased the prices, the shoe sat on shelves only to come back a few years later at the OG retail price of $100.