“LET’S MAKE SURE THIS THING PERFORMS”, Jordan directed. “We’ve got a lot of bells and whistles on it, but let’s make sure it performs.” Designer Tate Kuerbis worked with the basketball legend more closely on this release than any previous game shoe, and while the recent Air Jordan 31 and 32 releases were heavily drafted from previous drops, this time Nike wanted to “move forward”, introducing the laceless Air Jordan 33.

From the onset, the design centred on the notion of “Flight Utility”, cementing the brand’s recent focus on flight and the MJ era of air in the NBA. The shoe represents the debut of Air Jordan’s new “FastFit” technology in basketball. A band over the foot is pulled in one motion, setting off a sophisticated pulley system that auto-laces and tightens the rest of the shoe for the wearer.

The Air Jordan 33 shares the bold architectural lines of the Tinker Hatfield-designed Air Jordan 3, and the colourway also celebrates the original, famously worn by the Bulls superstar during his free-throw line leap at the 1988 dunk contest. But this is no nostalgic release. Overall, the shoe feels directional, modern.

While the man for whom the shoes were originally made is long retired from playing, Michael Jordan still requests an early sample in his size 13 from the design team for his final approval. The latest annual release will be priced at $175 and hits shelves on October 18 — a day of significant meaning for the brand, marking the anniversary of when Jordan first wore his eventually “banned” black and red Nikes as a rookie.

THIS ARTICLE APPEARED ORIGINALLY IN THE OCTOBER EDITION OF ICON MAGAZINE. 

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