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Why Everyone Wants To Be Like Mike

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Why Everyone Wants To Be Like Mike

It’s 1984 – not the creepy Orwellian kind, but the nostalgic, settle in for a trip down memory lane kind – and the Chicago Bulls are in the early phases of a rebuild that centres around the arrival of promising first round draft pick, Michael Jordan. He actually went third in the overall picks that year, coming in hot on the heels of Akeem Olajuwon and Sam Bowie, respectively. The latter, picked up by the Portland Trail Blazers, is mostly remembered as the biggest blunder in NBA Draft History. How could they have taken Bowie over Jordan?

It was Michael’s world then, and we’re still living in it.

To quote MJ’s highly acclaimed and very meme-able 10-piece Netflix documentary, ‘The Last Dance’, he took that personally, and went on to change basketball and the sneaker game forever. Where tunnel fits and multi-million dollar endorsement deals are part and parcel of today’s game, Nike and Michael Jordan are the architects of that reality. It was Michael’s world then, and we’re still living in it.

Before signing his unprecedented deal with Nike, there were offers on the table from the industry’s two undisputed heavyweights, Converse and Adidas. In its aptly titled All Star, Converse had the official shoe of the NBA; Adidas, meanwhile, was synonymous with youth and street culture, thanks in no small part to the rise of rap music where the brand’s Superstars and tracksuits were music video mainstays. Nike wasn’t even close. Nike went all in. Designing a signature sneaker for an athlete, never mind a signature series, was simply not how the industry operated. Two brands had previously slapped the name of prominent players on existing silhouettes in the form of Converse Chuck Taylors and Puma Clydes, but this was an entirely different scenario. Michael was different. And all before he’d even set foot on an NBA court.

When he was on the court, he was elegant, fearless and relentless. He was confidence personified. Nike channelled that energy in developing the original Air Jordan, a shoe that was dressed in Chicago Bulls’ black and red, and blatantly went against NBA uniform regulations which required footwear to be at least 51% white. When the NBA promptly and predictably banned the shoe, Nike happily picked up MJ’s $5000 per-game fine. It was a statement of intent, and a show of faith that mirrored their Michael Jordan-like confidence in the brand and legacy they were building. In his debut season, Michael hustled, danced and dazzled his way to the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, and helped Chicago return to the playoffs way ahead of their rebuild schedule.

Fans knew they were looking at a future hall of famer, potentially the best ever. They could see it in the way he played and the way he carried himself: he made impossible things look easy and handled high-pressure situations like child’s play. Between 1985 and 1986, MJ rocked what we now know as the Air Jordan 1 in some of its most iconic colourways.

When we talk about the OGs, we’re talking serious sneaker royalty in Chicagos, Breds, Black Toes, Royals, UNCs, and Shadows. MJ was making history, and just like Mike flew through the air, his shoes flew off the shelves. Off the court, not much has changed in that sense. As fashion’s revolving door continues to turn, and trends burn bright and fast, Jordan 1s are always relevant. Everywhere. Peter Moore, who also designed the Nike Dunk, couldn’t really have given MJ a better blank canvas. The shoe itself is timeless; Michael made it so much more.

In his third season as a pro, MJ debuted a sequel to his OG Air Jordan. Sometimes referred to as the ‘middle child’ of Jordans because the 1 and 3 are such titans of the sneaker game, we’re taking a page out of the parenting book (possibly the first page) and letting you know we love them all, especially the Jordan 2. Bold in an entirely different way to the Jordan 1, the Jordan 2 was the first to ditch Nike’s signature swoosh, is the only Jordan ever made in Italy, and introduced the brand’s first design references to luxury cars.


What Michael Jordan and Nike had was the first ever luxury basketball shoe. A perfect fit: Michael Jordan was a Rolls-Royce of a player, even at that early age. In his first outing of the 86-87 season, MJ put up 50 points against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Typical. Jordan’s star was still rising, but that year he started posting the numbers that cemented his status as not just one of the guys, but the guy in the league. He was 6’’6’ soaring through the air to dunk on guys that don’t get dunked on, he saw passes that no one else could, and had a jump shot that was smooth as velvet. He had it all.

The Bulls however, didn’t yet have the players around MJ to go all the way as a team, but it wasn’t long until he scooped up his first NBA MVP award, along with a host of other individual accolades. In the 1987-88 season, Michael took MVP, the Defensive Player of the Year and won his second straight Dunk Contest. Like Spike Lee told them, ‘Nobody in the world can cover my main man, Michael Jordan. Nobody, nobody, nobody.’ In the golden era of sneaker advertising, those Michael Jordan and Spike Lee commercials stand out. Tinker Hatfield’s Jordan 3 is undeniably one of the greatest sneakers of all time, but that’s not why an icon like Spike Lee got involved. The product was always Michael. Before six rings, two retirements, a lot of oversized suits and cigars, a ‘Space Jam’ movie, and countless more MJ moments, he brought meaning to the shoes. The demand for new Jordan models, reissues and retros hasn’t flinched in the years since. MJ wasn’t just great, he’s the guy they compare you to when you’re great at something.

Now available at Australia’s Luxury Department Store, Harrolds is your destination for Nike and Jordan. Discover the latest footwear releases online and in-store, alongside a curated selection of new-season apparel and accessories. Better yet, never miss another drop when you sign up for our newsletter and follow Harrolds on Instagram. All that’s left is to work on that jump shot.

People who are exceptional at what they do get called the Michael Jordan of… It’s no wonder everyone wants to be like Mike. 

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