Episode 5 of "The Last Dance," which many of us watched last night, begins with a fun little piece of Air Jordan sneaker history: the night Michael Jordan laced up the Air Jordan 1—not in 1985, but 1998.
The night was March 8, 1998 in a cold and rainy New York City. It wasn't just any Bulls versus Knicks regular season game that evening, as it was understood that this could be Michael Jordan's last game at Madison Square Garden before retiring. Being that it was Jordan's personal favorite arena to play in, he decided to do something extra special. He took it back to where his career began in 1985 by lacing up an original pair of the Air Jordan 1, in none other than the iconic "Chicago" colorway.
Rare footage in "The Last Dance" shows Michael in the locker room lacing up the still-crispy pair of "Chicago" 1s that he had stashed away for all those years. After putting them on, he then walks up to some other Bulls players in the locker room, including Toni Kukoc who, referencing a pair he had as a kid says, "Sweet. Played in those." Jordan questions whether Kukoc is old enough to have had a pair, and fellow old-man-baller Bill Wennington says Toni would have "been in diapers." But the math checks out: he was born in 1968, which means he would have been 17 when the Jordan 1 released. Jordan then points to a pair of the then-new Air Jordan 13 on the table and remarks how far sneaker technology had progressed.
Reminiscing during the modern interview for the documentary, Jordan states "By halftime, my feet are bleeding, but I'm having a good game. I don't want to take them off." It was worth it. Jordan pours in 42 points for yet another memorable game at the Garden, made even better by the shoes on his feet. "When I took my shoes off, my socks were soaked in blood." His feet might have regretted the move to wear the vintage sneakers, but we were all blessed with one of the Air Jordan 1s most historic moments.