Written by Todd Krevanchi

As we approach the halfway point of the 30th anniversary of Michael Jordan’s rookie season in the NBA and release of the Air Jordan 1, we continue to come across other milestone moments which commemorate his playing career and his spot on the sneaker game’s Mount Rushmore.

Over the last 30 years, there have been 29 signature Air Jordans in a myriad of colorways both at original release and at retro or re-retro or re-re-retro or, well, you get the picture. But what about the non-signatures that MJ wore on the court? Most recently, Marvin Barias (@MJO23DAN) of Sole Collector chronicled the history of the NBA and its “Banned” colorway along with the Air Ship, the much-documented shoe Jordan began his career in.

Michael Jordan wearing the NBA’s “Banned” red and black colorway of the Air Ship. — Photo Uncredited

In addition to the Air Ship, another non-signature/non-Jordan Brand shoe which got a lot of exposure at the time MJ wore it was the Air Flight 1. Dave Whitehead (@SneakerDave) told us the story of the gentleman’s agreement between Jordan and Penny which lead to this occurrence.

Michael Jordan wears the Air Flight One. — Photo via Barry Gossage of Getty Images

During the 1987-88 season, we found him often wearing the low-cut of the Air Jordan II, and rumors of his desire to leave the Swoosh had people thinking he was upset with the final product that Bruce Kilgore and Peter Moore put out.

On January 30, 1988, Jordan decided to toss aside his signature for another shoe in the Nike stable: The Air Alpha Force.

Nike Air Alpha Force Lineup. — Photo via Nike Basketball Product Catalog
Jordan wears the Nike Air Alpha Force January 30, 1988 and drops 28 vs. the Knicks. — Photo via COMPLEX

It was the Air Alpha Force which played the role of the bridge between the Peter Moore/Bruce Kilgore designed low-cut Air Jordan II and the Tinker Hatfield designed Air Jordan III, which MJ would debut just a week later in the Dunk Contest and All-Star Game in Chicago. MJ, of course, set Chicago on fire that weekend winning both the Dunk Contest and All-Star Game MVP honors. Michael’s relationship with Tinker for the Air Jordan line is well documented.

At the time of the game, the Air Revolution was Nike’s premiere technological basketball shoe… and also a Hatfield design. Even though it had no “real” accompanying low-cut silhouette (although it could be debated that the Air Ace 88 is its counterpart), the design of the Air Alpha Force is drenched with Hatfield’s Air Revolution features. This leads us to believe that his fingerprint was partially or completely in the design of the Air Alpha Force. I guess it could be speculated that it was Hatfield’s impact on the Air Alpha Force which began the process of MJ deciding to stay with Nike… or maybe MJ’s feet just needed more or less forefoot support that game.

The reason behind Jordan wearing the Air Alpha Force on that night, and only once, may never be known, but it certainly ranks up there with him wearing the Air Flight 1, while having a signature shoe.

Care to watch MJ stunt in the Air Alpha Force and drop a cool 28? Be our guest…


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