Air Jordan III: Introducing The Jumpman…

Name: Air Jordan III

Release: 1988

Designer: Tinker Hatfield

To a lot of people out there the Air Jordan III is considered to be the favorite.  If there is any shoe that made a mark on the world it was this one…everything from the design to the way it was marketed made this shoe a MUST HAVE MONSTER to everyone that was into shoes!

Let’s start from the beginning and introduce the now iconic Jumpman logo.  This symbol has grown to be so much more then just a logo for a shoe…it represents a legacy that has grown with many of us to show how powerful if done right marketing can be.  Many people have made the mistake of thinking that the Jumpman symbol is of Michael Jordan performing a dunk, but it is just him jumping doing a ballet pose for a photo shoot and that photo actually came with the actually first Jordan shoe…I know…if you were like me you tried many times to do a dunk in that pose and twisted your ankle or hurt yourself in some manner…I know I am not the only one! It is said that Tinker Hatfield got a hold of the photo of Jordan and made an outline of it…and the Jumpman symbol was born!

It was at this point that Jordan was ready to pack up and leave Nike, but THIS shoe changed his mind. Tinker had designed a shoe like no other on the market with the input of Jordan himself. The shoe featured the unseen air bubble window and the heel of the shoe along with an elephant type print wrapped around both the heal and toe sections of the shoe. It was also the first shoe to sport the Jumpman logo on it as well. This shoe was THE ONE for most…it stood out amongst any on the NBA courts, shoe store, etc. In true Jordan fashion he dominated the league that season with being the MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, as well as Scoring Leader and the Dunk-Off Champion of 1988…now if you were like me you were saying “It has to be the SHOES!!!”

Enter Spike Lee as Mars Blackmon, a character created during the Nike campaign for the Air Jordan III.  Blackmon to most represented what we were saying on the streets. Michael Jordan was a hero to all of us that were playing basketball at the time…just imagine a 5 on 5 pick up basketball game with everyone running around with their tongue out and doing the Jumpman pose! Ahhhh memories! It was through the use of this character Nike was able to showcase a market that was for the most part not represented at all in popular culture on that level and who better to do it then Mr. “Do the Right Thing” himself Spike Lee who was unknown at the time. It was a match made in heaven and the rest is pretty much written in stone. Who can every forget Mars Blackmon sitting on the rim with Jordan dunking and him asking Jordan “Is it the shoes?”

Bottom Line:
There was no other shoe since the Converse All Star (Chuck Taylor) that had such an impact. This shoe and its campaign represented so much to so many different people. For me, it was the first time I saw a sports icon that I wanted to be like…had to be like…and the shoes was the closest thing to doing it. I knew I wasn’t the only one because everywhere you looked people were wearing these shoes whether it be the coolest guy in your neighborhood or your favorite rapper or singer it was a MUST HAVE. You would see anyone from Flava Flav and Chuck D of Public Enemy wearing them to Jordan Knight of New Kids on the Block wearing them…yes I said Jordan Knight! Don’t act like you didn’t know they existed then!

Special Moment:
In 1988 when Jordan was playing against Utah Jazz he dunked over John Stockton who was 6′ 1″. It is said that a fan in the stands heckled Jordan and said “Why don’t you dunk on somebody your own size?” So in the very next possession Jordan dunked again over their center Melvin Turpin who was 6’ 11”. He then turned to the fan and asked them, “Was he big enough?” …if that doesn’t seal the deal of you wanting “To be like Mike” I don’t know what will do it for you…

  • I.B. Da Force Masta

    One of the greatest shoes of all time! I have 3 pairs, the original ones, the black ones and the re-issued all white. I love those shoes! They hit a home run with that timeless design.

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Sole Theory is a sneaker lifestyle guide that explores the social impact of the sneaker culture. Users can expect to gain insight on recent trends, historic brands and signature styles that have heavily influenced the shoe industry. Content will be driven by articles, interviews and reviews that will uncover interesting facts and stories that have rarely been told.