Enter flashiness. The Air Jordan 5 (Air Jordan V) was inspired by a World War II fighter plane and was equally comfortable in attack mode. Tinker Hatfield
reworked the upper with a sleeker update of the Air Jordan 4's (Air Jordan IV) mesh panels, as well as an all-new asymmetrical ankle collar designed to provide support only where it was needed most. Again, multiple lacing options were offered. And at this point it was clear that the Swoosh wasn’t coming back.
This was an aggressive shoe. The “teeth” on the forefoot midsole were directly influenced by the Flying Tiger P-51 Mustang fighter plane, and the Jumpman-embroidered tongue was done up in fully reflective material, all the better to reflect the ever-increasing camera flashes. The outsole featured panels of clear, sticky rubber, under which another Jumpman could be seen. As Mars Blackmon feverishly asked, was it the shoes?
The second drop — the now-traditional reworked Bulls
edition and a more “lifestyle” oriented colorway of “Grape Ice” and “New Emerald” did away with the reflective tongues, but the Bulls pair featured embroidered “23” numerals on the outer heels, a feature that up to that point was only available to Michael Jordan
himself. And all the colorways included Jordan-branded lacelocks, an Air Jordan first. In time, these extras would become expected.
On the court, Jordan’s playoff struggles with the Detroit Pistons continued, but he did it in an ever-increasing collection of player-only makeups. Consumers got the one shoe with the “23” embroidered on the heels; MJ himself received that detail on multiple versions, both home and away. He also mixed things up himself, at one point lacing his black shoes with white laces, a detail that would eventually re-emerge thanks to a hyper-observant fan and the “Bin 23” program. The shoes were almost getting as much attention as the man himself, which was saying a lot.