Air Jordans Mean a Lot to My Generation

I’m an eighties baby. And I can’t think of one cultural icon that defined the era in which I grew up more than Michael Jordan. As a kid, you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t going to be the next MJ. I always had a pretty good jump shot and decent ball-handling skills, but the next MJ I was not (I wasn’t even close to being the next any NBA player). But if I couldn’t play like Mike, at least I could look like him.


All of us kids wanted his Air Jordan sneakers after the first pair debuted in 1985. And by the time I reached high school in the mid-nineties, his sneaker, which he pretty much released one new edition per year, had a more anticipated release date than any movie, album, video game, or anything else that often causes people to get into lines in front of stores hours (if not days) before they open. Many of my friends would even cut school to go get the shoe, then triumphantly return by lunchtime with the crispy new 23s.


Yesterday, the 23rd edition of Air Jordans—Air Jordan XXIII—came out in limited release. Only 23 pairs were sold in 23 stores around the country, for $230. That’s only 529 pairs of sneakers for an entire nation of Jordan fans. There will be two more rounds of this special limited release next month before concluding with the national launch, at which time the shoes will sell for $185.


Jordan, as most of you know, is part-owner and managing member of basketball operations for the Charlotte Bobcats. I’m not sure if his local relevance will help any of us Charlotteans score the coveted sneaker, but here’s an idea. If the Bobcats want to increase ticket sales, which they are always trying to do, why not throw in a pair of Air Jordans for season-ticket buyers or suite holders.


And finally, this is rumored to be the final edition of the Air Jordan sneaker. The speculation is surrounded by the special significance of this being the 23rd edition, which is endorsed by the most famous athlete to ever wear jersey number 23, and it is 23 years after the debut of the first pair. I could go on and on about what Michael Jordan (and his sneakers) means to my childhood, but here’s a great article by ESPN columnist Todd Boyd that eloquently sums it up. Click here.