The Swoon King.
The most important reason Air Jordan sales were so successful for most of the past 25 years is not among the blatantly obvious. Sure, Michael Jordan’s talents, achievements, and personality spotted the Swoosh every point in a game to 10 before its footwear competition even got out of bed. Sure, Wieden+Kennedy and Spike Lee helped retroactively delete the line between sports and pop culture, putting AJ’s on the feet of kids young and old who’d just as soon ask where the end zone is on the basketball court than ever knock down a jumper. No, the reason Air Jordans kept points-of-sale busy all those years is Michael Jordan.
The man simply made shoes look good, a talent he displayed in basketball games yet had nothing to do with basketball. MJ could make Crocs swoon worthy. How many times did you dislike an Air Jordan model or colorway in a picture but craved it after seeing MJ wear it in a game, live or taped? Now think about your reaction to seeing him wear Jordans you already loved like, say, Concord XI’s. Fever pitch, gotta have it, Mom-can-you-loan-me-the-money panic. That’s Michael Jordan’s true gift to Nike. The gift that kids from one to 92 believe they can take home a box of that unique style, lace it up, and be every bit of the cool they saw on TV.
That sentiment was true in 1985, 1989, 1992, 1996, 2001 and every year in between and after. And although Michael Jordan isn’t going baseline for the flush or juking defenders like a pinball machine for a fadeaway, that sentiment is true today and lives on in the shoes themselves. When the 2011 Air Jordan 11 Retro “Concords” release December 23, 2011, don’t be incredulous at the wide eyed part of you that’s taking a number in line outside a Nike Store or rapidly entering your Visa card information at a big box sneaker retailer online. You just want to be like Mike.
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