The Most Iconic Off-Court Moments in Air Jordan History

  • Mars Blackmon

    For a moment, Spike Lee’s Nike campaign for Michael Jordan couldn’t be stopped. They were simple yet effective black and white ads had Lee, acting as Mars Blackmon as a street dude that would ask if it was really the shoes that had Michael playing at the level he was playing. While it probably wasn’t, it sure had consumers wondering if they could duplicate Michael’s game.

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  • Martin Episode #66 - Lockin Boots

    When it comes to footwear, Martin Lawrence really was the king of kicks. Wearing models ranging from Converse to Huaraches, Martin seemed to always have on the latest releases. In this particular episode, he found out that Gina spent some of their savings on jewelry, so he decided to splurge on a brand new pair of Steel Jordan 10s. Sadly, he’d have to return them for Air Wacks, but he was fresh for a good 10 hours.

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  • Martin Episode #102 - Homeo & Juliet

    In 1995, Martin flips the classic Shakespearean tale in favor of something a little bit more thugged out. In which case he was adorned in a clean pair of Concord Jordan 11s while he ensured that Gina’s hopes of starring in a play came true. Chivalry at its finest.

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  • NaS - "Street Dreams"

    “Growing up, project stuck, not giving a [redacted], I thought Jordans and a gold chain was living it up.”

    In rap, there are oft heard lyrics about sneakers. This has been the case since its inception. Nas sums it up with a quick bar. For some, the peak of their outfit is their Js. Live it up.

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  • He Got Game

    When Jake Shuttlesworth (Denzel Washington) went into the shoe spot and had the rep put that crispy pair of 13s in his hand … man, listen. I think every person that was into shoes drooled at the same time.

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  • Space Jam

    Probably the blueprint for many under-30 Michael Jordan fans. It brought MJ to a new level of fame as kids who may not usually watch hoops could see him interacting with the likes of their favorite Warner Bros. characters. The movie featured a bevy of kicks, including the 9 and of course, his shoes, the black and white Jordan 11, which would ultimately take the name of the movie they became famous for.

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  • "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" final episode

    In the season finale of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Will Smith is standing in the middle of what was once the living room and main set of the series. He’s got on the crispiest pair of Columbia 11s one could find, and there’s no sound. The shoes almost steal the scene, to be honest. You know what? We’ll go ahead and say they do.

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  • Will Smith
    "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" first episode

    In 1990, Will Smith was testing his acting chops out on NBC’s “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” a show that was an extension of himself. Smith was seen wearing a unlaced pair of black AND grape Jordan 5s that would set the tone for the copious amounts of dope shoes Will would wear throughout the series.

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  • Jay Z
    Jay Z and Barclays Center

    The opening of Barclays Center in Brooklyn was a monumental moment for not only the NBA, but also hip-hop and pop culture, confirming Jigga as a certified legend, going from nothin’ to somethin’ and taking his hood with him.

    Throw in the fact that he rocked the Infrared 6 in this iconic image — also the shoe MJ wore when he vaulted from great player to certified legend — and you have a picture that says it all.

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  • Do The Right Thing

    In what is probably the best product placement a brand could have, neighborhood character “Buggin Out” in Spike Lee’s 1989 classic Do The Right Thing shows his displeasure when a passerby wearing a Larry Bird jersey steps on his brand new Air Jordan 4s that cost $108 with tax. Luckily for the gentleman, Buggin’ Out had a kind and loving heart.

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  • Mars Blackmon
  • Martin Lawrence
  • Nas
  • Denzel Washington
  • Michael Jordan
  • Will Smith
  • Jay Z
  • Buggin Out

We all know what a pair of Air Jordans mean to pop culture. When people think of a “pair of Js,” they think about status, iconic streetwear, and to some, they’re a way to make money. (Oh yeah, they probably think about Michael Jordan, too.) It’s been that way since the first Air Jordan dropped in 1985 for $65, at the time an obnoxious amount of money for a sneaker that, in the end, helped sell it. Even before it had released to the public, the sneaker’s ban by David Stern and that aforementioned luxury price had already created a market for it.

While most folks in the sneaker community have their set of grails — “once I get these I’m done” pairs — we tend to overlook how the shoes became so popular. In 2014, we not only have athletes receiving shoe endorsement deals, or if you’re Kevin Durant, life-changing-ungodly-amounts-of-money shoe deals, but now rappers like Drake, Pharrell, Kanye, and Macklemore are putting out kicks under the umbrellas of various footwear brands. But for every major move there were even smaller ones made, some more visible than others, but moves nonetheless. Television, film, and music helped take Jordan Brand to the next level.

With the Air Jordan 14 “Black Toe” releasing tomorrow at Champs Sports, the first time since it’s original release around 15 years ago that the OG is coming back — 2006 doesn’t count because of those dang upper ribs — we’re taking a look at the signature line’s place in pop culture. Here are The Most Iconic Off-Court Moments in Air Jordan History.

Follow Tommie on Twitter at @boneystarks