No player has a more photogenic history than Michael Jordan. Since his college days as a North Carolina Tarheel, we’ve seen Michael Jordan gracefully soar through the air time after time defining a generation.
He defined what cool was. He defined what we wanted to be. He defined what was cool. He defined the brands that were cool. He defined what people were cool by who he associated with. His baggy oversized suits may not be in style today but that saying, “There will never be another” will never be more true than when said about Michael Jeffrey Jordan.
In 1985 Michael made us all want to be able to dribble between our legs and knock down a stepback jumper in
Larry Bird’s our neighbor’s face. In 1988, he made us wish we could fly the way he did from the free throw line at the Slam Dunk Contest against Dominique Wilkins our younger brother. In 1991, we were switching from right hand handed dunk to a left handed layup against Magic Johnson the girl we had a crush on.
By 1994, we had seen Michael Jordan do so much on the court that baseball seemed like a completely feasible change of direction for the greatest player to ever play the game of basketball. That’s how good he was. It wasn’t a matter of if he could play, it was just a matter of him getting used to the game, making it to the big leagues, and winning there, too.
After the short detour, he returned to basketball and captured three more consecutive NBA titles. In all honesty, in the late 90s, if Michael Jordan said he ate nothing but dirt-filled burritos, most of the world — myself included — would have started the diet that same day. Athletes and average dudes wanted to wear his shoes, rappers wanted to be him and women wanted to be on him. The term “swag” may not have been popular back then but as Jay-Z said it so eloquently on The Black Album in 2003, “Check out my swag yo, I walk like a ballplayer,” the entire world at the time was trying to have swag like Mike.
As MJ turns 53, we decided that words weren’t really enough to explain his importance (that will come in a book down the road). He’s the reason sneaker sites exist and the reason most of us even care about “sneaker history” at all. So rather than ramble more than I already have, take a look at 53 of our favorite photos of Michael Jordan wearing the sneakers he made famous. Happy birthday, Mr. Jordan.