What's the most important Air Jordan sneaker ever made?
Is it the Air Jordan I? A groundbreaking offering that shifted the landscape of footwear. How about the Air Jordan III? A sneaker which introduced Michael to Tinker Hatfield and helped save his relationship with Nike.
Sneakerheads will debate this question using logistics and reason, all while pivoting from one classic to another. However, there's a strong, Georgetown Law School case to be made for the Air Jordan VI.
Making its debut in 1991, the 6 is generally remembered for being the shoe Michael wore when he captured his first NBA title.
According to Sole Collector's Steve Jaconetta, the sneaker was released in five original colorways that first calendar year, ranging from two distinct Chicago Bulls styles to the timeless "Sport Blue" and "Maroon" cuts.
Jordan was graceful on the hardwood and ruinous to opposing defenses while wearing the 6. He suited up for 82 regular-season games and averaged 31.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists, winning his fifth straight scoring title.
During the postseason, the Bulls rolled through the NBA's ocean of contenders, losing just one game in the first three rounds. Jordan would put a layer of icing on his dominant run, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals, 4-1, after losing the opening game of the series.
MJ displayed acrobatic antics in the 6. He scored with ease and lit the crowd on fire when he switched hands from a would-be dunk to a stunning layup against the Purple and Gold from Tinseltown.
"It wasn't even one of my best creative shots," MJ mentioned afterward.
For his efforts, Jordan was named Finals MVP for the first time in the 6—another landmark moment for his signature line.
The Air Jordan 6 was fierce yet exotic in its design, taking inspiration from Jordan's Porsche 911, according to Complex's Brandon Edler. Hatfield focused on improving the Air Jordan V and even let MJ himself in on the creative process, as this Nike promotional video showcases:
Jordan wanted a "clear toe," asking for extra layers of material on the shoe to be removed. This created a device leaner and sleeker than its predecessor. The 6 was less Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and more Viper Room.
Together, Hatfield and MJ helped turn the shoe into a chalice of production. An immaculate accessory to the world's best player.
Monumental moments often carry a shoe to new heights. We've seen the Air Jordan 6 push through a championship run to having its own series of retros 26 years later.
The sneaker still carries a uniqueness that distinguishes it from the rest of the Jordan line, which has helped the aging process mightily. Despite being served up time and time again, it doesn't feel as overdone as the Air Jordan I.
December 16 marks the day Jordan Brand will be releasing another special version of the Air Jordan 6, adding to its already glimmering legacy.
The "Like Mike" colorway was devised from the famous Gatorade commercial, which was a true "OK, he's arrived" moment for No. 23—culturally speaking.
With its base design modeled after the "Carmine" Air Jordan 6, the "Like Mike" rendition instead uses orange and green color-blocking to dye the white leather canvas. This provides the Gatorade-inspired overtones—something that sets it apart from any previous Air Jordan 6 release.
The attention to detail is where the "Like Mike" 6 makes its name. Take the lace-lock cap, for example. On this shoe, a miniaturized Gatorade squeeze bottle was used to tie the theme together, rather than a plastic Jumpman mechanism. Or the classic orange lightning bolt that is synonymous with the Gatorade brand that can be found on the insoles.
It's details like this that breathe new life into the line.
Taking a legacy shoe like the 6 and blessing it with another cultural accent is the right way to keep Jordan Brand on track. This isn't some random retro colorway or a made-up event to capitalize on the past. It's a tangible, meaningful release intertwined with a historical, credible moment when Jordan leaped from superstar to hyperspace in this very sneaker.
Because of that, we have a greater appreciation for the "Like Mike" Air Jordan 6.
All production news and information provided by Nike News unless otherwise noted.