12 Things You Didn’t Know About the Air Jordan 12

  • Air Jordan 12 Taxi

    1. Many of MJ’s teammates wore them too

    Former members of Michael Jordan’s Bulls teams have pretty much universally agreed that Jordan’s sheer will to win was the fuel that kept that team going at points of the season where it would have been easy to lose focus. His hypercompetitive nature permeated the entire locker room, and was undoubtedly the key force behind the team’s second three-peat. MJ’s influence was everywhere, even manifesting itself on his teammates’ feet. Over the course of that 1996-97 season, Scottie Pippen, Bill Wennington, and Luc Longley all rocked XIIs, and Pippen even incorporated their Zoom Air cushioning into his own signature sneaker.

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  • Air Jordan 12

    Jordan Brand

    2. The design is based in part on a women’s boot

    When you think of Air Jordans, fashion boots is probably not the first thing that jumps to mind. However, when Tinker Hatfield sat down to create the Air Jordan XII, he took inspiration from a women’s dress boot dating back to the 19th century. The result was a leather upper that has been lauded as perhaps the most durable of any Jordan ever made. However, the success of the XII did not do much in terms of reviving the market for 19th century women’s footwear. (The inspiration also came from the Nisshoki, a Japanese flag.)

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  • Air Jordan 12 Playoffs

    3. MJ wore them when he recorded the first triple-double in All-Star Game history

    Yes, the Flu Game is the most famous performance in the history of the Air Jordan XII; there’s really no point arguing otherwise. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty of other times where MJ absolutely balled out in his signature sneakers. He made history in them at All-Star Weekend in ’97, putting up 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists for the first triple-double in the game’s history. In what would be a common theme that season, however, MJ’s outstanding performance wasn’t enough to win him the MVP award; he lost out to Glen Rice, who scored 26 points off the bench to lead the East to a 132-120 win.

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  • Jordan Keyser

    4. The XII was the first Air Jordan with full-length Zoom Air cushioning

    Debuting in 1995 as part of the Nike Air Go LWP, Nike’s Zoom Air technology was a game-changer in basketball shoes that eventually made its way into the entire Nike line. The XIIs were the first Air Jordan to capitalize on this technology by using full-length Zoom Air cushioning, the ideal choice considering its mix of durability and responsiveness. Combined with the leather upper, the Zoom Air design tweak made the XII a perfect mix of durability, flexibility, and comfort.

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  • Air Jordan 12

    5. MJ wanted something different than the previous 11 models, so he spelled out “Two 3” on the tongue

    There is probably no single number in sports more closely linked to a player than Michael Jordan’s 23. Not only was it seen on the gear of pretty much any basketball fan who grew up watching His Airness, but it also was a major part of the first 11 installments in the Air Jordan line. But like all the greats, MJ recognized it was time to switch things up a bit; for the XII, he had his number etched in the tongue “Two 3,” one of the most unique aspects of the shoe compared with its predecessors.

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  • Air Jordan 12 Nubuck

    6. The “Nubuck” XII retro release in 2003 involved Nike actually mailing a URL and a tape measure to “Team Jordan” members

    Back in the early days of the Internet, getting this retro release was not nearly as simple as it can be today. In order to cop the XII “Nubuck” on Black Friday in 2003, you had to be a member of the Jumpman23 club, receive a URL in the mail, go to the website at the right time, then drop $200 for the sneakers, a hat, and a hoody. And perhaps even more strange is the fact that Nike also sent a tape measure with the URL just so you could measure your head and figure out your hat size.

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  • Jumpman

    Jordan Brand

    7. The XII was the first sneaker released under the Jordan Brand

    While the iconic Jumpman logo has been around for almost three decades since it debuted on the Air Jordan III, the actual Jordan brand is much younger. Nearly 10 years after the Jumpman logo made its debut, Nike launched the Jordan Brand in September, 1997. The first signature sneaker under this new banner? The Air Jordan XII.

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  • Blake Griffin best big man basketball sneakers

    8. Blake Griffin waited in line to get the XIIs when he was a kid

    While it’s no secret that many of today’s NBA players have been huge sneakerheads for their entire lives, it’s easy to forget that for many years growing up they were just like everybody else who had to wait in line for a hot new release. Growing up in Oklahoma, a young Blake Griffin braved the lines to cop a pair of “Taxi” XIIs, although by his own admission the lines were not nearly as crazy as ones you might find in other places. As a Jordan Brand athlete today, it’s safe to say that Blake’s days of waiting in line for Jordans are over.

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  • Air Jordan 12 Doernbecher

    Jordan Brand

    9. One pair of the exclusive “DB Dozen” XIIs sold for over $14,000

    The Jordan Brand’s partnership with OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon, is one of the most unique partnerships in the sneaker game. Using the “designs that reflect the inspirations and aspirations of six young patient-designers,” Nike drops a new Air Jordan DB collab every year. 2015 was the year of the XIIs, and a pair of the exclusive “DB Dozen” sold for over $14,000 on eBay. With all proceeds going to the hospital, this partnership has raised over $11 million to date since it launched 12 years ago.

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  • Air Jordan 12

    10. The original “Flu Game” XIIs were sold at auction for $104,000 by a former Utah Jazz ball boy

    Yes, $104,000 may be a quiet night on the blackjack table for Michael Jordan, but for most of us mere mortals that is a lot of money. So it’s no wonder the now-grown Jazz ball boy who snagged the XIIs MJ wore during the famous Flu Game decided to auction them off. How did he come into owning such famous shoes, you may ask? Because he remembered that MJ loved to eat graham crackers and apple sauce before games, and ingratiated himself to His Airness when he had the snacks waiting for MJ in his locker whenever he’d visit Utah. That, plus another favor the night of the actual game, earned the ball boy one of the most incredible pieces of basketball memorabilia ever sold.

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  • Air Jordan 12 Melo

    11. Michael Jordan wasn’t the only one to wear the XIIs; they’ve been the choice of stars like Carmelo Anthony, Ray Allen, and Kobe Bryant too

    One of the best-known aspects of the Air Jordan XII is its absolute wealth of available colorways. But to be honest, MJ probably didn’t even get the hottest ones. Carmelo Anthony had some absolutely amazing white and powder blue XIIs that were his preferred sneaker before he got his own signature sneaker. Ray Allen wore multiple versions in Boston. Dwyane Wade has had a few of his own. Even Kobe Bryant rocked the French Blues during his career. With so many amazing color combos available now, it’s a shame His Airness didn’t have more to choose from.

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  • Air Jordan 12

    Jordan Brand

    12. There was no Swoosh anywhere on the shoe, not even the insole

    One of, if not the most ubiquitous symbol in advertising is the Nike Swoosh. They’ll put it on everything, and with good reason; people associate Nike with sports and star athletes. There’s been no greater sports star than Michael Jordan, so naturally Nike made sure their logo was somewhere on pretty much all Air Jordan releases. (The II made waves when it went another route.) However, the XII changed the game. As part of the launch of the Jordan Brand, Nike also removed all traces of their signature logo from the shoe. They took a (very) slight gamble that people would remember that, even though it said “Jordan,” it was still a Nike product. It’s safe to say they had that one right.

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  • Air Jordan 12 Taxi
  • Air Jordan 12
  • Air Jordan 12 Playoffs
  • Air Jordan 12
  • Air Jordan 12 Nubuck
  • Jumpman
  • Blake Griffin best big man basketball sneakers
  • Air Jordan 12 Doernbecher
  • Air Jordan 12
  • Air Jordan 12 Melo
  • Air Jordan 12

It’s not easy following a legend. You come into existence in the shadow of a tremendous legacy, and forging your own identity is a long and arduous road. So when it came to following the Air Jordan XI, the next sneaker had quite the impressive act to follow.

And yet, despite the challenges it faced, the Air Jordan XII more than lived up to expectations.

[RELATED: History of the Air Jordan 12]

Most famously linked with Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals–known more commonly as “The Flu Game”–the XII was a part of several iconic Michael Jordan on-court performances, despite the fact that in 1997 voters collectively decided they were sick of giving MJ the MVP award every year and handed it to Jazz forward Karl Malone instead. Jordan got his revenge in the Finals, and for the XII its place in history was no less secure.

Originally released in five colorways, the XII has enjoyed a long second life as a retro release, with many new colorways added to make it a fit in every situation. Unlike most sneakers from that era, you’ll even still see it on an NBA court from time to time; over the years, players like Rip Hamilton, Ray Allen, and Carmelo Anthony have all put up big games with the XIIs on their feet.

[RELATED: Best Air Jordan 12 colorways ever]

A shoe revered for its comfort and design as well as its basketball functionality, the Air Jordan XII is one of the Jordan Brand‘s most iconic models. And with the release of the “French Blue” XIIs coming up this Saturday at Champs Sports, there are clearly still many new chapters to write in this story.

As you get ready for this latest version of the XII to drop, let’s take a look at 12 Things You Didn’t Know About the Air Jordan 12.

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image via Jordan Brand