The Jordan/Converse pack that released this week is not perfect. The Converse Fastbreaks are in a colorway Jordan himself never actually wore on-court, and the date referenced on the back of the Air Jordan II PEs is the date of a different game entirely. To a purist like myself, this is almost unforgivable. But we’re a dying breed, and honestly? Maybe it’s for the best.
Other than the date on the back (6/28/87 as opposed to 9/8/86), the Air Jordan IIs in this pack are the best Air Jordan IIs to drop in a long while. The single Carolina blue accent on the heel counter really pops off the otherwise standard white, red and black colorway—it was one of the oddest PEs of all time, and for Jordan it was his first. And, other than the date, they’re reproduced faithfully. The date was just an added bonus, one they apparently got "wrong" on purpose in order to recognize both alumni games at once. Jordan actually wore a pair of white and Carolina II Low PEs in the 6/28/87 game when UNC alumni faced off against UCLA alumni. Hopefully that pair comes back, too.
While historical accuracy regarding sneakers is important to obsessives and, you know, historians, it’s something that doesn’t matter nearly as much to the world at large.
As for the Fastbreak, a Bobbito Garcia favorite and one of Converse’s first lightweight performance basketball shoes, Jordan wore those for Team USA, not the University of North Carolina. A faithful “Jordan” Fastbreak would be in white and navy, like the ones he was wearing on one of his earliest Sports Illustrated covers. But that somehow wouldn’t seem as Jordan as the white/Carolina pair in this pack. The ball and wings logo on the Lunarlon sockliner ties them perfectly to the IIs. The truly historically accurate “Carolina” Jordan Converse would be Pro Leathers, which have already been retroed several times, or Pro Stars in either high or low. Like the UNC Jordan II PEs, maybe those are in future plans. And maybe this too was a way to honor two Jordan moments—the 1982 NCAA title and the 1984 Olympic gold medal—with one shoe.
While historical accuracy regarding sneakers is important to obsessives and, you know, historians, it’s something that doesn’t matter nearly as much to the world at large. Look at upcoming Air Jordan retro releases for the summer, and there are far more never-weres and almost-weres than there are faithful replicas of colorways Michael Jordan wore on the court. Those, which used to be the high points of the Jordan retro line are becoming rarities, supplanted by upscale luxury makeups and high-fashion collabs. Which only makes sense as those of us who watched Jordan live during his earlier Bulls days age out of the market.
Even at the outset of Air Jordan, people from superagent David Falk to Phil Knight to Jordan himself knew that for “Air Jordan” to be a self-sustaining brand it would have eventually transcend even Michael Jordan himself. Nearly 15 years after Jordan’s final retirement from the NBA, that’s happening. And while tributes to the past like the “2 That Started it All” pack are still appreciated, it’s time to accept that exacting historical accuracy is, well, just history.