Sneaker Theater: Space Jam

  • Air Jordan 11
    Air Jordan XI "Space Jam"

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    I mean, even the most uneducated sneakerhead probably knows this one, right? This particular colorway was worn by Jordan throughout the game to save it all at the end of the flick. As mentioned, it might be the most hyped version of the most hyped Air Jordan ever made.

    Jordan first debuted this sneaker during the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Orlando Magic, rocking this particular colorway during Games 4-6 after the NBA fined him for a uniform violation because of the Concord Jordan XI colorway he busted out in the first two games. Jordan never again wore these shoes in the NBA.

    That summer, Jordan spent months in Los Angeles filming Space Jam and the film’s most famous footwear developed its reputation almost exclusively through this flick.

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  • Air Jordan 9
    Air Jordan IX

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    During one of the movie’s opening segments, Jordan strikes out on a slider while rocking some all-black Air Jordan IX cleats. It was a cleat that Jordan often wore during his days in the Minor Leagues.

    Speaking of the Jordan IX, just a few scenes later, Mike busted out the basketball version during a practice with his new Looney Tunes squad. The original white version of the IX is perennially overlooked because Jordan never used these sneakers in the NBA. But that’s okay, considering he used them for his first real “comeback” in Space Jam.

    The first time Jordan enters the Looney Tunes gym, he’s rocking these kicks while Seal‘s “Fly Like An Eagle” serenades the court. Jordan, forever the showman, says, “Let’s see if I remember how to do this.”

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  • Air Jordan 2
    Air Jordan II

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    Shoutout to Bill Murray for bringing the old school heat to the movie’s biggest game. He might not have much game, but he certainly has taste, choosing one of the more unique Air Jordan models ever made. The II was not only designed in Italy, it also featured premium materials like faux lizard skin along the panels, giving the sneaker a completely different look and feel from the first Air Jordan.

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  • Air Jordan 10 Shadow
    Air Jordan X

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    The X was the first sneaker Mike rocked on his return to the court in 1995, but the only face time it got during Space Jam was during a scene where Bugs and Daffy Duck go to Mike’s house to search for his game shoes and uniform. The “Shadow” X, the same pair Jordan wore during the 1995 Eastern Conference First Round against Charlotte, flashes across the scene during a super quick cut of Mike’s trophy room. Blink and you’ll miss it.

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  • Nike Air Max CB34
    Nike Air Max CB34

    Nike’s signature line for Charles Barkley will forever be one of my favorites. No, they are almost impossible to play in now because they are SO heavy, but the mixture of comfort and style is second to none. And the colors! The original Air Max2 CB 94 in black, purple, and white, the one that laced up like a straitjacket, is probably one of my favorites kicks of all time.

    In Space Jam, Sir Charles is rocking the Air Max CB34 just before the Monstars steal all of his talent.

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  • Nike Air Way Up

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    It’s still a little amazing to think that Shawn Bradley landed a part in this movie, considering most only remember him as an awkward giant who got dunked on a lot–basically the blue dude from the Monstars that stole his talent.

    However, he was actually a decent center at one point, and in this movie his sneaker game was on point. He wore this wannabe Penny I sneaker throughout.

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  • Reebok Swingman Mid
    Reebok Swingman Mid

    I’m surprised MJ let Muggsy Bogues rock Reebok throughout the movie. The lil’ man had a couple of memorable speaking lines and also looked positively ’90s while rolling in the Swingman from Reebok. A sneaker made famous by Sam Cassell (sort of), it showed up in full force in multiple scenes toward the end of Space Jam.

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  • Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star sneakers in creed
    Converse Chuck Taylor All Star

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    I’m not sure if this was done as some sort of nod to Jordan’s time at North Carolina when they wore Converse, but either way it makes sense considering the setting.

    In the movie’s opening scene, we get a glimpse of a young MJ out in his backyard practicing his jumper until early in the morning. Before the clip dips into the greatest movie intro EVER (still), we get a quick look at the Chuck Taylors the lil’ man is rocking. Considering this was supposed to be set in North Carolina in the 1970s, it’s a nice nod to the style back then. Of course, we now know MJ grew up wearing adidas so it’s not that accurate.

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  • Air Jordan 11 "Space Jam"
  • Air Jordan 9
  • Air Jordan 2
  • Air Jordan 10 Shadow
  • Nike Air Max CB34
  • Reebok Swingman Mid
  • Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star sneakers in creed

Ask someone from my generation about Space Jam and their eyes will light up. It’s a definitive movie for every warm-blooded sports fan born in the 1980s. The premise behind it was simple enough that everyone could love it: Bring together two icons from different worlds and let them save the basketball universe. And for the Michael Jordan fans, especially the young ones? It was iconic.

The November 15, 1996 original release of the movie nearly coincided with the start of that year’s NBA season, and Jordan and his Chicago Bulls were coming off one of the greatest seasons ever submitted in team sports. Space Jam became a victory lap, the final climax for a period that saw Mike set the world afire by coming back from baseball before ultimately reclaiming his place atop the basketball hierarchy. It also cemented the relationship between the Jordan Brand and Warner Bros., between MJ and Bugs Bunny. It catered to basketball fans of all ages, and it helped take Jordan from the basketball-playing god of his first go-around–pre-first retirement–to a worldwide icon capable of connecting with anyone.

Space Jam is a big moment in the history of sneaker culture. So within the first edition of Sneaker Theater, we’re naturally taking a look at one of the most memorable flicks ever, at least for sneakerheads. And all of that starts with the Air Jordan XI, probably the most memorable sneaker Michael Jordan, Tinker Hatfield, and Nike ever made. This movie helped create a shoe phenomenon that resulted in one of the most hyped silhouettes ever.

If you’re going to talk sneakers in movies, Space Jam is a great place to start. See why.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney

image via Warner Bros./Getty Images

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