Air Jordan XVII: His Airness Returns Again

Name: Air Jordan XVII

Release: 2002

Designer: Wilson Smith III


After putting out quite a decent sneaker in the Air Jordan XVI, Wilson Smith III was again given the task of creating another sneaker for the Air Jordan line. To add to the excitement of a new Air Jordan sneaker was the fact that JORDAN WAS BACK!!! In 2002, Michael resigned as the President of Basketball Operations for the Washington Wizards and was returning to the NBA to play once again.

When the Air Jordan XVII was released they were retailing for $200, which at the time was considered to be a ridiculous price for a sneaker.

For inspiration for the Air Jordan XVII, Smith used the smooth lines of jazz music. It is stated that right around the time when he began sketching together ideas for this sneaker the Jordan brand acquired jazz musician Michael Phillips. Like most of the other Air Jordan sneakers Smith incorporated the details of a vehicle like the stylish Aston Martin. The design of the out-sole of the shoe was said to have come from a golf course Michael played on as well as to commemorate his retirement.

One of the most obvious innovations that were visible on this sneaker was the removable mid-foot cover that covered the laces. This gave the sneaker two looks just like the previous Air Jordan. Another key feature of the Air Jordan XVII was the variable-width lacing for a more snug fit, lace locks (that had been used on previous sneakers in the line), a hidden quick lace system, a TPU heel stabilizer, a dynamic-fit sleeve and a full-length composite shank plate. For this sneaker Smith used some of the newer technology that Nike was currently working on called Tuned Air. It was placed in the heel and forefoot of the sneaker.

When the Air Jordan XVII was released they were retailing for $200, which at the time was considered to be a ridiculous price for a sneaker. Nonetheless, it sold out everywhere…mainly BECAUSE THEY WERE THE NEW AIR JORDANS!!! A key feature that made these sneakers very special was the fact that they came in an actually metal briefcase to symbolize Jordan’s transition from a basketball player to a business man. Within the briefcase there was a CD-ROM that contained an exclusive song called “The Greatest” that was performed by Team Jordan member Michael Philips. It is stated that the CD-ROM also contained behind the scene footage of the design and development process for the sneaker as well as an in-depth technical presentation of the Air Jordan XVII. BET television personality Big Tigger has also been stated to be featured in the CD-ROM as well. There has never been any confirmation, but there were many rumors that there had been many versions of the CD-ROM released making it hard to confirm anything other than the exclusive music track.

Special Moments:

HE’S BACK!!! Although it was very different to see his “Airness” in a uniform other than the Chicago Bulls Jordan returned to the game he loved to help out the Washington Wizards. The question on everyone’s mind…does he still have it? Answer…YES!!! Jordan returned to a team that needed the magic that only he could bring and set all kinds of records for this team in the process.

  • Most points scored in the first quarter (24) vs. Charlotte on December 29, 2001.
  • Most points in a half (34) vs. Charlotte on December 29, 2001.
  • Most points scored in the second quarter (19) vs. Chicago on January 4, 2002.
  • 45 Points, 10 Rebounds, 7 Assists and 3 Steals vs. New Jersey on December 31, 2001.
  • 30,000th career point against his old team the Chicago Bulls on January 4, 2002.

Jordan’s stats for that season were: 22.9 ppg, 5.7 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.4 steals…may not seem like much, but this is more then most average for their whole career in the NBA.

Another very interesting story about these sneakers is that it is stated that Michael spotted his newest member to the Team Jordan brand not wearing his sneakers. It is stated that when Jordan saw that Michael Philips was not wearing his sneakers he made him throw them out and made him wear something from the Jordan collection. Ummm…I don’t know about you, but if I am part of Team Jordan I would be decked out from HEAD TO TOE in the Jordan Brand…and I know I’m not the only one that feels this way!

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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.