Air Jordan III // The GOAT's GOAT?
On the 30th anniversary of the Air Jordan III, we reminisce on a true athlete collaboration and discuss its place on the all-time list of Air Jordans.
Birth Of An Icon.
It was 1988 when “They gave him a 50!” became one of the most iconic playcalls in All Star history. Michael Jordan wowed the home crowd in the old Chicago Stadium. MJ jumping from the free throw line gave birth to a historic image of flight that best represented what would be an immortal logo: the Jumpman. The debut of the Air Jordan III embodied a partnership between a brand and a talent never seen before, or since. Few shoes characterized the game and the culture around it like the Air Jordan III; and it arrived with Jordan’s achievements during one of the greatest individual seasons in basketball history.
The shoe was made by the Greatest, for the Greatest. The legend of Tinker Hatfield and how he cemented an athlete’s personality into his shoes would come alive in the III: a signature shoe that goes past just having a name on it; a product of tech and style that naturally ingrained itself into heritage and culture. A piece of art, science and sport that would eventually become one of the most influential sneakers of all-time.
Those are only parts of the story. And when it comes to this shoe, there are many to tell, and many qualified to tell them.
The OGs.The most admired personalities in the sneaker culture constantly mention the moment when Jordan planted his left foot on the stripe and launched himself to the rim, a metaphor to his flight towards being the greatest of all time. Whether it’s the gravity-defying Free Throw Line dunk or many a kid’s first fresh-out-the-box experience with tumbled leather and elephant print, stories were built around 1988 to this day. In line with the launch of Air Jordan III ‘Black/Cement’ for 2018 All-Star Weekend, we took the chance to connect with some of the most knowledgeable, most authentic personalities in the game, to discuss their unique Jordan III stories and where they rank the shoe all-time.
Jacques Slade // Kustoo
Jacques “Kustoo” Slade is one of the most influential voices in the sneaker world. From YouTube unboxings to his own ‘TV Show’ on Instagram stories, Jacques is the epitome of innovation, creativity and authority when it comes to kicks, tech and pop culture.
Martin David // Sole Movement
A champion of the local scene, Sole Movement provides the latest sneaker releases, product features, and an inside look at events, brands, and the industry’s game changers. Behind it is Martin, a guiding light that illuminates the path from classic tastes to modern heat.
Big Boy Cheng // Secret Fresh Art Gallery
One of the country’s top art influencers, Big Boy Cheng is the founder of Secret Fresh Art Gallery at Ronac Art Center, San Juan. Bigs is also without question one of the country’s foremost collectors. If it’s worth having, Big Boy has it. Because he can, because he does.
Jojo Munsayac // King Crux
Jojo “King Crux” Munsayac is a NikeTalk.com Moderator and has been in the game before you even knew there was a game. His opinion weighs heavy and his words echo loudly. Crux is the most famous, most authoritative sneakerhead you’ve never heard of.
// WHAT IS YOUR AIR JORDAN III STORY?
Jacques Slade: I remember the Air Jordan III because of the older guys in my neighborhood. As a kid, my parents couldn't afford to buy the Air Jordan III. The first time I saw them was on the feet of one of the older kids that played basketball in high school. Back then, all I wanted to do was be like the older kids because they seemed to be so good at basketball. With that, I also wanted to wear what they wore and play like they played. When I saw the one kid in the Air Jordan III, I knew it was a shoe I had to get. Of course, I didn't get the shoe until I was older, but I will always remember seeing it on the court in real life.
Martin David: Growing up, I was able to watch MJ back in 3rd grade and was fascinated on how he was able to “fly”. I was pretty intrigued as to why he was called “Air Jordan”. Eventually, I found out that his shoe was called the Air Jordan and started to notice what he was wearing. I noticed that the Air Jordan III was far different to what basketball shoes looked like, from the mid cut construction, to the Elephant print, to the visible Air bubble. As my love for Jordan grew, so did my fascination with sneakers and the Air Jordan III.
Big Boy Cheng: The Air Jordan III, my personal favorite. May Black Cement ako years ago, binili ko sa Hong Kong. In time, matagal kong hindi sinuot so pagsuot ko ulit, nagcrack ‘yung sa may heel na part. Sumama loob ko kasi favorite pair ko talaga ‘yun. So I never pass on every chance of getting a pair of Black Cement III’s. Hinanap ko talaga siya. I’m just happy na binalik na rin nila in true OG form. Solid din ‘yung Jordan III ni Justin Timberlake. Perfect timing for the comeback, both him and the Jordan III. Maganda ‘yung nakikipag-collab sila sa mga artists pati sa ibang sports nakikita mo na rin siya. Kaya lahat ng Jordan III ni Federer meron din ako.”
Jojo Munsayac: I was a 10-year old boy when I first heard of the Air Jordan shoe. I remember back then I was allowed to have one pair of shoes per year so when I saw a poster of Michael Jordan wearing the Air Jordan III Black Cement, I knew I just had to have them. Not aware of when they originally dropped, I wrote to my grandparents in California to ask for a pair for my birthday. Months later I got the package; and it was the wrong pair of shoes. But that became the start of my obsession with sneakers. When NikeTalk started to grow, a collector from LA decided to unload his Black Cement III’s and sell them to me. After 15 plus years, my quest to find and secure my holy grail was finally over. Here we are in 2018 and I am still hyped as ever.
// IS THE AIR JORDAN III THE GREATEST AIR JORDAN?
JS: Whether or not the Air Jordan III is the greatest Air Jordan ever is a very tough question. I am without a doubt a big fan of the shoe, but I still have a soft spot for the Air Jordan 1. Both shoes are iconic in their own right, but the Air Jordan 1 gets the bump to number one in my opinion because you can wear it with almost anything. The Air Jordan 1 is like the Chuck Taylor, a shoe that everyone recognizes and has become more than just a shoe. From pop culture to sports, the Jordan 1 will have to be the number one Jordan in my book.
MD: I have four favorite Air Jordan silhouettes: the I, III, IV, and XI. As much as the 1’s are quite wearable, I would put the III right up there because the Black/Cement combination works well with anything, the shoe has withstood the test of time and is still considered as a very fashionable piece, and it’s a shoe that Tinker Hatfield designed which changed the game.
BB: Yes, no doubt. Sa lahat ng Jordan, all-time favorite ko ‘yung III. ‘Yung una kong pair ng III is yung White. Ang sarap gamitin, sarap pambasketball. ‘Yung design kasi niya very simple and versatile. Itong Black Cement na colorway ‘yung the best kasi ‘yung style niya is very modern to this day. Advanced na ‘yung style nito 30 years ago.
JM: Greatest Air Jordan ever? You bet. Why? Because more often than not, our history with a shoe is far greater and memorable than the influence behind them.
Always Cross The Line.
Our own stories connect us to Jordan, to the shoe, and to everything it stood for. For countless sneaker lovers, the Air Jordan III will go down as the sneaker that started it all. A cross between luxury and performance that presented a breakthrough combination of style and tech that remains stamped in the hearts of hoop heads, sneaker geeks, fashion mavens and everyday Joes through the generations.
Everyone has their Air Jordan III memory. From Mike and that weekend in ’88, to Jacques and Jojo and Bigs and Martin seeing it on TV. Everyone remembers first seeing it on His Airness, or on the neighborhood court’s flossiest. Many of us spot it from miles away, on your officemate during casual Friday, on JT during the half.
Is it the best sneaker ever? Maybe. Arguably. Not everyone will say yes, but absolutely no one can say it’s not in the conversation. It’s in the stories we tell, in the stories we’re told. The shoe lives on, thirty years later, a timeless masterpiece ahead of its time, ahead of ours still. Just like MJ flying from the line. Just like all of us still wondering how he did it.