The Biggest Surprises in Sneaker History

Tinker Hatfield goes patent.

Year: 1995
Sneaker: Air Jordan XI

It was the sneaker that wasn't supposed to happen. Michael Jordan was (presumably) happily retired, swinging for the fences, and Tinker Hatfield was supposed to have moved on to other things. Even Nike's higher-ups thought Jordan was done with basketball. But Hatfield believed, and he continued working on what would become the Air Jordan XI even as Jordan himself rode buses through the South. The design was epic-no one had ever used such a mix of materials, from patent leather to ballistic mesh to carbon fiber-on a basketball shoe before, but nothing was more appropriate for the shoe that should not be.

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