The year is 1998, and Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls are going head-to-head with the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals for the second consecutive year. It’s the ultimate rematch: a chance for the Bulls further prove their dominance over the entire league and an opportunity for the Jazz to seek vengeance from the previous year’s loss. Despite losing both regular-season games to the Jazz, the Bulls entered Game Six with a 3-2 lead. Late in the fourth quarter, the Delta Center erupted as the Jazz took possession of the ball with a 86-85 lead. It looked like there would be a Game Seven in Chicago. But in storybook fashion, Michael Jordan stole the ball, dribbled up the court and delivered what would become the most recognizable crossover and jump shot in basketball history.
Jordan’s shot over Bryon Russell gave the Bulls an 87-86 win and their sixth NBA title. With 45 points in what was believed to be his last NBA appearance, a sixth Finals MVP award, and a second three-peat in the Finals, Jordan’s legacy became etched in stone. And the then-unreleased Air Jordan XIV, the shoes he had on his feet at the time, went from being just the last “Playoff” Air Jordans to the “Last Shots.”
Designed by Tinker Hatfield, the Air Jordan XIV featured a more futuristic and sleek design than previous models. They got their inspiration from Jordan’s Ferrari 550 Maranello, the silhouette embodying speed, agility, and elegance, which were also key elements to Jordan’s playing style. The motorsports theme was carried throughout the entire sneaker, with the Jumpman logo modeled after the Ferrari logo, breathable side ventilation ports representing the car’s hood scoop, and a treaded rubber heel mimicking high-performance tires.
But an amazing in-game performance and solid design execution aren’t the only things that make this sneaker special. The Air Jordan XIV is easily one of the most polarizing silhouettes from Jordan Brand simply because of where it lands in the lineage of Air Jordans. Debuting in October of 1998 and continuing to rollout throughout 1999, it was the first sneaker to be released after Jordan’s retirement from the NBA, but it was also the last sneaker that could be directly linked to his performances on the court as a Chicago Bull. It truly marked the end of era in basketball and sneakers. With exception to the poorly received Air Jordan XV, the XIV was the last great Air Jordan designed by Tinker Hatfield.
Since its original debut in 1998, Jordan Brand has released many different XIVs, but several of the original colorways never saw a retro. Fast-forward to present day. Nearly two decades later, the “Indiglo” XIV is getting its first Remastered retro, this time being called the “Vivid Green.” But semantics aside, this is the end of an era. This is the last sneaker model that Jordan ever played in as a Chicago Bull, and this is the last colorway of the shoe to be retroed (not including low-tops).
So do what Jordan would do: pop a bottle a champagne, light up a cigar, or just peel off in your Ferrari to pick up the sneakers this weekend.
The Air Jordan XIV “Vivid Green” releases for $190 on Saturday, August 13 at 10 a.m. EST on Nike Store and other select retailers.