In 1993, still reeling from the murder of his father, Michael Jordan did something he had been contemplating for almost a year. He retired from basketball. At the top of his game, having won three championships, the greatest basketball player of all time walked off the floor. Astonishingly, MJ walked onto a baseball diamond. Nike, in tribute to Number 23, released the original shoe that is now being reintroduced as the Air Jordan 10 Retro.
Celebrated Nike designer Tinker Hatfield had teamed with Michael in the design iterations three through nine of the trademark kick. However, MJ had no hand in the concept for number ten. The shoe did, though, bear the quality of design and materials that had become hallmarks of the brand.
The first run featured a leather bar running the width of the toe of the shoe. Number 23 preferred his kicks unencumbered but did wear this version for a time upon his return to the game. This was not the only change that occurred during his brief tenure in the minor league of baseball.
The Chicago Bulls retired the jersey of their iconic shooting guard upon his retirement. Thus, when His Airness returned to basketball less than eighteen months later, his number was not available. He played for a time wearing number 45, his baseball identifier. Some of the original Hatfield designs have 45 stitched into the leather.
Other features of the shoe paid homage to a star Nike thought had left the court forever. Several of his key accomplishments were documented on the soles of the shoes. The initial 1994 run included versions carrying the colors of five NBA teams including the Bulls. A model with cleats was also released at that time. The stunning popularity of the model induced Nike to bring it back in 2005 as the Air Jordan 10 Retro.
Without a doubt, the commemorative value of the kicks played into the tremendous demand for them. However, their sleek style and the availability of numerous color combinations also made them popular. The manufacturer recognized this and enlarged the audience even farther with the 2005 reintroduction. The second coming of the shoes featured seven models, four more than the original styling. Two ladies versions were debuted. Building on the fan base of the first production line, the 2005 throwback also proved phenomenally alluring.
Rumors circulated for years that a third release of the shoes was planned. Many people expected 2008 to be the year when they would reappear in stores. Every year, though, fans were left disappointed. Finally, Nike announced that the shoe would be available for sale on January 21, 2012. Produced in the Chicago red white black color scheme, it immediately became an item every collector had to have.
Few sports stars have the ability to drive sales years after they have retired from the game. However, the brand created by MJ and Nike continues its stronghold on the imagination of the public. Each new model gets scooped off of store shelves. New production runs of the older versions, like the Air Jordan 10 Retro, reinforce the ongoing star power of His Airness.