The first Air Jordan to break the $200 barrier, the Air Jordan 17 (Air Jordan XVII) came with a silver briefcase, but not the handcuff to lock it to your wrist. The laces were still covered, but rather than a full shroud, the Air Jordan 17 relied on a snap-on cover that only covered the lace portion of the upper. And as the first new model introduced with Jordan playing for the Washington Wizards, it was the first Air Jordan not to be introduced in red, black and white—blue, black and white was the colorway of choice.
As for inspiration, it was a bit more esoteric than for Jordans past — jazz music. Musical notes appeared on the upper, and the idea was to pay tribute to improvisation. Which is a good trick with something like a shoe, that obviously is planned out to the very tips of the laces.
The Air Jordan 17 (XVII) was a luxurious shoe to begin with, featuring hidden seams and a plush liner, but there was more to come. Before the Air Jordan 18, Jordan released a special version of the Air Jordan 17 that did away with the lace covers and added copper trim and faux crocodile to the upper. The $200 price tag remained the same, only the remix came in a regular Jordan box rather than the Get Smart briefcase. There were also the inevitable lowtops, which featured gaiter-type liners rather than a conventional tongue and ankle collar.
It helped that Michael was once again in uniform to put the shoe before the public, but you didn’t need to see the Wizards logo to realize this wasn’t the same Michael Jordan
who decimated the NBA
as a Chicago Bull. His most iconic moment in the Air Jordan 17s was in the “Lightning” lows during the All-Star Game where he soared in for a dunk… and missed.