Considering the long history that Michael Jordan has had with Nike and the great success that the Jordan Brand has experienced over the decades, it’s hard to believe that a scenario existed where Michael Jordan didn’t want to stay with Nike. However, one pair of Air Jordan sneakers almost ended the partnership between the NBA star and Nike forever. That sneaker would go on to be known as “the Nike Air Jordan sneaker that Michael Jordan hated”.
To understand more about the Nike Air Jordan sneaker that Michael Jordan hated, let’s travel back to the year before when the sneaker was designed.
The year was 1985, and Michael Jordan had recently endured a vexing injury early in the season. Seized by a sense of urgency, Nike, recognizing the imperative to maintain the momentum of anticipation, found themselves compelled to expedite the release of the second generation of Air Jordan sneakers. However, this meant that the hallowed halls of the sneaker empire were graced with only a fleeting moment to materialize their visionary designs. In their pursuit of this endeavour, they summoned the artistic prowess of Peter Moore, the ingenious mastermind behind the Dunk and the Air Jordan 1, alongside the unparalleled creative expertise of Bruce Kilgore, the illustrious creator of the Air Force 1.
Meticulously observing Michael Jordan’s flamboyant lifestyle, replete with extravagant garments and resplendent gold chains, Moore and Kilgore endeavoured to conceive a footwear masterpiece that would befit such opulence. It was time to fashion a sneaker exuding an aura of luxury. These sneakers were painstakingly crafted to accommodate MJ’s discerning tastes, allowing him to effortlessly transition from the basketball court to the refined domains of tailored suits and neckties, or even the unforgiving pavements of the urban jungle. Alas, this lofty ambition came at a price: the pursuit of performance and comfort took a backseat to the paramount consideration of style, ultimately leaving those areas somewhat lacking.
The Air Jordan 2 materialized as a testament to opulence, boasting an assemblage of sumptuous premium leather and even an artful imitation of the exotic iguana skin. Manufactured with meticulous care in the fabled land of Italy, these sneakers transcended the boundaries of their predecessors in terms of cost, ascending to unprecedented heights of extravagance. The architecture of the shoe’s structure unveiled a resolute sole, its visual allure conjuring an illusionary semblance of formal dress shoes. Moreover, the upper lace stays were meticulously tailored to replicate the aesthetic grandeur of their sartorial counterparts, the epitome of refined footwear craftsmanship.
Although Michael Jordan went on to have a successful season in the Air Jordan 2, he hated them so much that he considered leaving Nike because of them. MJ said the sneakers were too heavy to feel functional and even called them ugly. He specifically pinpointed the thick Italian leather upper and the midsole, saying that they weren’t practical and that he couldn’t feel the court as much as he could with the Air Jordan 1. This was something he really disliked.
This immediately caused tension between His Airness and Nike, to the point where he was considering leaving his partnership with the company. Luckily, Tinker Hatfield saved the day with the Air Jordan 3 and rescued the fraying relationship.
Of course, Michael Jordan wasn’t the only one who didn’t like the sneakers because they weren’t as welcomed into the sneakerhead community as Nike had hoped they would be. Fans were also shocked by the price of these premium sneakers because of the Italian leather and manufacturing.
The Air Jordan 2 sneaker was released in 1986 in two colourways: Home and Away. To this day, they are known as “the Nike Air Jordan sneaker that Michael Jordan hated.