10 Things You Don’t Know About the Air Jordan 2

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    1. The original mold for the II was allegedly either lost or stolen

    Could it be that one of the reasons we haven’t seen as many retro Air Jordan IIs is because it’s simply too difficult to recreate? It’s certainly possible. For pretty much every retro sneaker release, the mold from the original version is used to help make the new ones; not so with the Air Jordan II. After the shoe’s creation in 1986, the original mold either disappeared or was stolen. This meant that when the first retro was created in 1995, Nike had to take apart a pair of the originals just to remember how they built them.

    image via Pascal/Pinterest

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    2. The II featured a soft heel-to-toe cushion to protect MJ’s broken foot

    Extremely durable throughout his Bulls career, Michael Jordan played fewer than 78 games in a season for the Bulls only twice: once when he came back from retirement in the middle of the 1994-95 season, and when he broke his foot during the 1985-86 season. Since it was designed first and foremost for His Airness, the II incorporated a first-of-its-kind soft heel-to-toe cushion to provide extra cushioning for the entire foot. Considering Jordan played in all 82 games during 1986-87, it’s fair to say that worked out pretty well.

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    3. The II was the first retro Jordan made into PEs available for the public to buy (2004’s ‘Melo IIs)

    While the PE colorway is nothing new to sneaker collectors these days, that was not always the case. In 2004, in fact, no PE had ever been made available for sale to the general public. The Air Jordan II changed all that, and the ‘Melo II worn by Denver Nuggets superstar Carmelo Anthony became the first ever PE that could be purchased and worn by collectors around the world, opening the floodgates on what has become a huge part of the sneaker industry today.

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  • 4. They’re the only Air Jordan sneaker ever made in Europe

    The Air Jordan II cost $105, a huge amount at the time and a $40 jump from the Air Jordan I. The reason? Italian craftsmanship. The II was made in Italy, the only Jordans to be made on the European continent. The Italian leather used for the upper and the famous Italian craftsmanship meant that, while high-quality, the II was bound to carry a hefty price tag.

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    5. The II was the first Nike shoe ever to not have a Swoosh anywhere on the upper

    As you could probably guess, Nike really likes to put their logo on things. But notice what is missing from the entire upper of the Air Jordan II? A Swoosh. One of the biggest sticking points in Kilgore’s design of the sneaker was the complete absence of Nike’s signature sign, something that the company’s marketing department was almost certainly horrified to discover. After what was probably a lengthy battle with his bosses, Kilgore won out and set a Swoosh-less standard many futures silhouettes tried to emulate.

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  • 6. The original prototype was a hybrid with the Jordan I

    Sneakers often go through many stages before they arrive as a finished product, and an early version of the Air Jordan II certainly looked much different. A long way from the all-white, Italian leather-bound edition that ended up on MJ’s feet, the prototype instead was a spiffed-up version of the Air Jordan I upper sitting on top of the same ultra-cushioned midsole of the Air Jordan II. It was given to MJ to test out the new cushioning system. This hybrid sneaker has since been retro released in numerous colorways as the Air Jordan 1.5.

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    7. They are the only Air Jordan during Jordan’s playing career to not originally release in a primarily black colorway

    No one has ever explained why this is so. Perhaps Nike simply wanted to go in the complete opposite direction of the Jordan I? It’s a unique distinction no matter what.

    Jordan did what he could, though, with the limited options. There was the low-top colorway, and during the 1987 All-Star Weekend Jordan wore two different original colorways for the Slam Dunk Contest (White/Black/Red) and the All-Star Game (White/Red).

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  • 8. The “Wings” box they came in is often more sought-after than the shoes

    One of the many unique features of the Air Jordan line is the box the sneakers come in. Until the Air Jordan XIV, every Jordan edition had its own unique box design, and of those most sought-after today is the Air Jordan II. Featuring side tabs designed to mirror the “wings” of the original Air Jordan logo, an original box now sells for $150-plus. When the box is selling for over $100, you know your sneakers are certifiably hot.

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    9. Eminem’s $110 retro II (313 pairs, made in 2008) now sell for over $3,000

    Eminem loves Air Jordans, releasing numerous collabs over the last decade-plus. In 2008, he dropped his own special edition of the Air Jordan II to coincide with the release of his book The Way I Am, and the response was predictably huge. With only 313 pairs made (coinciding with Detroit’s area code), the sneaker was extremely limited and as you might expect…sold out instantly. If you want to cop a pair today you certainly can, but it will cost you; the most recent pair made available on eBay came in at over $6,000.

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    10. They featured prominently in The Cosby Show spinoff, A Different World

    Remember on Kanye West’s Graduation album in “The Glory,” when he says “In two years Dwayne Wayne became Dwyane Wade?” That guy Dwayne Wayne? He was a character on The Cosby Show spinoff, A Different World, and while he might not have had the skills or legendary status of Flash, the two did share one thing in common: a love of the Jordan Brand. Wayne could be seen in the early season donning the Air Jordan II in numerous episodes, helping to cement his status in pop culture at the time as a style innovator.

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After the complete and utter game-changer that was the Air Jordan I, Nike designer Bruce Kilgore was tabbed with the unenviable job of coming up with an equally successful sequel. This time, the emphasis would be on quality and fashion rather than just purely basketball, and the result was a sneaker that took its inspiration from Italian dress boots and straddled the line between high fashion and basketball functionality.

The result was the Air Jordan II. Although it debuted in 1986-87, the II has seen a limited run in the sneaker world since its first retro in 1995. It has nevertheless been visible in both the NBA and popular culture, being worn by everyone from Carmelo Anthony with the Nuggets to Bill Murray with the Toon Squad in Space Jam. Even now, NBA stars like DeMarcus Cousins routinely take the floor sporting the sneaker that redefined quality in the Air Jordan line.

There have been several interesting Air Jordan II releases in recent years, and tomorrow there will be another as the Air Jordan II “Radio Raheem” will drop at Champs Sports. This latest release pays tribute to the famous character from Spike Lee’s iconic Do the Right Thing, a movie that contains one of the most famous sneaker scenes in cinematic history. The “Radio Raheem” is one of several Jordan releases centered around the film that are expected to drop in 2016, but while you wait to cop this first release, here’s a look at 10 Things You Don’t Know About the Air Jordan 2.

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image via Jordan Brand