If you’re a fan of sneakers, then you know how pivotal sneakers are in the NBA, especially during the NBA Playoffs and Finals. During this time we get some beautiful PE’s and Finals-edition colorways from the games’ brightest stars. Although, things weren’t always like this in the NBA. The trend started with Michael Jordan, who paved the way for the NBA stars we love today.
With the premier of ESPN’s 10 part documentary “The Last Dance” we see sides to Michael we’ve never seen before. Including his love for sneakers and the respect he has for Nike. Nike was then a young fledgling company, but thanks to His Airness. The brand now endorses the NBA’s biggest stars, stars like the late Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Durant. All of whom have also made several Finals appearances sporting the Swoosh. So it’s only logical that Nike would offer new styles and bolder color ways while their players perform on the NBA’s biggest stage. Some athletes even receive redesigned iterations of their signature sneakers for playoffs, i.e. the “Elite Series” sneakers released by Nike for LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
It’s a business model that works well for sneaker brands, these fresh colors and models help drive sales during the postseason. Brands overtime have grown but during Michael’s era. It was rare to see a player with multiple game shoes. Even the GOAT played in the same shoe all regular season and only switching things up for his epic playoff runs.
Michael Jordan and his Air Jordan line are synonymous with sneaker culture. His brand Jordan Brand, a subsidiary of Nike is responsible for the sneaker hype we have today. His fanciful “postseason” performances have forever cemented his legacy and the popularity of the shoes he wore while winning them. Today we will look at every Air Jordan sneaker Michael Jordan wore winning a championship.
Many people don’t know this, but during the regular season, Michael Jordan wore white-based colorways of his signature sneakers. But during the postseason Jordan would switch up the style a little and sport black colorways for the NBA Playoffs. This was tradition for Michael and his Bulls team. Let’s be honest, the Bred colorways are the primo colorways for Air Jordan sneakers. They’re usually the most popular and are often as iconic as the player who wore them. We’ll cover why they’re meaningful and when he wore them. Here are all the sneakers Michael Jordan won championships wearing.
1991 – Air Jordan VI
If you’re a Michael Jordan fan, then you know how much he struggled against the Detroit Pistons’ “Bad Boys”, Michael Jordan bulked up in 1991. The games greatest player at the time didn’t want to lose again. He put on 15 pounds of muscle jumping from a meager 200 lbs to 215 lbs. The Chicago Bulls beat the pistons that year in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1991.
They met Magic’s Los Angeles Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals where Chicago took the series 4-1. Michael would win his first Championship, wearing the ‘Black/Infrared’ colorway of the Air Jordan VI. Arguably one of the best colorways to release for that sneaker.
1992 – Air Jordan VII
Michael had finally made it to the apex of Mt. Olympus. He now had to stay there. In his second straight Finals appearance, as the defending champs. Jordan faced another premier shooting guard in Clyde “The Glide” Drexler. But this was prime MJ, and he wasn’t taking an L to the Portland Trail Blazers. The 1992 NBA Final’s would lead to Michaels second title, as the Bulls bested the Trail Blazers in six games with a series score of 4-2. During the 1992 NBA season, Michael Jordan wore the Air Jordan VII.
Fun fact, the Air Jordan VII, was the first Air Jordan sneaker to not feature Nike branding on the entire shoe. Michael Jordan wearing the Jordan 7 continued to boost Nike’s image as a leader in the basketball sneaker category. The Air Jordan VII also used Nike Huarache technology, which innovated the typical design elements for a basketball sneaker with comfort in mind. For the 1992 Playoffs, Jordan wore the ‘Black/True Red’ colorway of the Air Jordan 7.
1994 – Air Jordan VIII
The 1993 NBA Season would be the season that separated Michael Jordan from the likes of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. As both players were exceptional in their own rights. None of them achieved the glorious three-peat that only two other teams before the Bulls had. This put Michael’s name into the conversation of the greatest of all time.
The Bulls met the Phoenix Suns, led by the charismatic Charles Barkley in 1994 NBA Finals, Michael strapped up the Air Jordan VIII in ‘Black/True Red’. Fun fact, these sneakers would eventually inherit the nickname “Playoffs” colorway because the ’94 Playoffs were the only time Jordan wore them on the hardwood.
1996 – Air Jordan XI
Michael Jordan retired during the 1993-1994 and returned only to lose during the postseason in the first round to the Orlando Magic. After playing baseball for so long, Michael wasn’t in the proper shape to make a run for the NBA Championship. Jordan returned the following year to lead the Bulls back to the NBA Finals in 1996 while also achieving a historic 72-10 season.
The greatest player in the game returned with possibly the greatest Air Jordan sneaker of all time. The Tinker Hatfield designed patent leathered, Air Jordan XI. That same year we got the Air Jordan XI “Concord”, The Air Jordan XI “Space Jam” and during the 1996 NBA Finals against the Seattle Supersonics. Michael wore the beloved ‘Black/True Red’ colorway, known simply as the “Breds”.
1997 – Air Jordan XII
The 1997 NBA Finals was something special to watch. The Bulls led by Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman were once again defending champions and to keep the title they’d have to go up against the Karl Malone and John Stockton driven Utah Jazz. Let’s face it, the Air Jordan XI is a hard act to follow, and somehow Nike pulled it off with the Air Jordan XII which featured bold color blocking and an excellent pebbled leather construction.
During ’97 Playoffs and Finals, Michael wore both the ‘Black/White’ and ‘Black/Varsity Red’ colorways. But it’s the latter we swoon over as sneaker fans. As Jordan would score 38 points in Game 5 of that series wearing these beauties. Dubbed the “Flu Game” because Jordan was severely sick with the flu and during the entire game played with extreme fatigue. There’s even an iconic picture where Scottie Pippen is seen helping an exhausted Jordan off the court. The Bulls would best the Utah Jazz to win their fifth championship with a series score of 4-2.
The 1998 NBA Season had a certain allure. Many knew this would be Jordan’s last time gracing us with his one of a kind talent. The Chicago Bulls came face to face with the Utah Jazz for the second straight year in the ’98 Finals. For this series, Michael switched between two different shoes. The first being the Jordan XIII, he had worn that shoe all season but would introduce the Ferrari-inspired XIV in Game 3 of the 1998 Finals.
Michael would wear the Air Jordan XIV again in Game 4. He then switched back to the Air Jordan XIII’s for Game 5. But it was in the Air Jordan XIV where Michael Jordan would take his game-winning last shot as a Chicago Bull. Securing his sixth NBA Championship, putting away the Utah Jazz once again with a series score of 4-2. Fun fact, in the six NBA Finals Michael Jordan’s played in. He’s never been to a game 7, and that concludes our list of all the sneakers Jordan won championships wearing.
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