Twenty-two years after Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls capped off their second three peat of NBA Championships in seven years, “The Last Dance” docu-series is here to provide an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look into the inner workings of the team’s final season together in ‘97-98.
Functioning as a career retrospective, “The Last Dance” is underscored by a running dialogue that traces the steps leading up to the closing chapter of the Bulls’ dynasty. And all of the most essential Air Jordans—some of which are easily distinguishable on-screen, others not so much—are featured prominently along the way. We chronicled them all. These are the Air Jordans (and a few other sneakers) that appeared in the first episode of “The Last Dance.”
We will be providing updates following each new episode of “The Last Dance.”
Before it became known as Air Jordan 13 “He Got Game,” it was the launch colorway of the shoe in 1997. The look appears early and often in “The Last Dance” as Jordan, his sons, and Ron Harper make them look as good as Denzel Washington did.
An early scene in “The Last Dance” finds Jordan pulling a pair of “Black Toe” Air Jordan 1s out of his gym bag next to another early favorite of his: the Nike Air Ship.
It was actually the Nike Air Ship that Jordan wore during the early stretches of his NBA rookie season. The sleek high-top makes several appearances in “The Last Dance,” usually alongside that oh-so-good script Bulls team uniform.
A special shoe was needed to pull off a win over Magic Johnson’s Showtime Los Angeles Lakers in ‘91 and that’s exactly what we got in the Air Jordan 6 “Infrared.”
Jordan’s famous shrug gesture after hitting yet another three-pointer, this time in Cliff Robinson’s grill, brings us to the next Air Jordan to appear in “The Last Dance,” the Jordan 7 “Raptor.”
The Bulls overtook Charles Barkley’s Phoenix Suns to cap their first three peat in ‘93. The Air Jordan 8 “Playoffs” was Mike’s shoe of choice that year and has since gone on to become one of the most classic black and red Jordans ever.
A return to glory in 1996 finds the Air Jordan 11 “Bred” right in the thick of things. Jordan wore the stealthy colorway, as well as several other variations of the Jordan 11, during matchups with the Miami Heat, New York Knicks, and Orlando Magic.
While the “Flu Game” gets a majority of the love, and rightfully so, the Air Jordan 12 “Playoffs” is equally as great. Jordan decided to go with this design in Game 6 of the ‘97 NBA Finals when the Bulls defeated the Utah Jazz at home in the United Center.
Another favorite of Jordan’s and nearly every sneaker fan and/or collector, the Air Jordan 11 “Concord” was a mainstay in Jordan’s mid-90s on court rotation.
It wasn’t always check over stripes for Mike. Fleeting footage of an early UNC basketball practice finds our basketball hero dripped out in a pair of adidas Pro Models. How things have changed…
The Converse Pro Leather and Fastbreak were the shoes of choice for Michael Jordan for a majority of his time at the University of North Carolina, including when he sunk the game-winning jumper against the Georgetown Hoyas in ‘82.
A candid look into Jordan’s early days as a professional basketball player finds him lacing up a pair of Air Jordan 2 Lows in a shot of him vacuuming the floor. He also wore the Jordan 2 Low for a number of games in 1987.
Sporting two gold chains, a close cropped haircut, and the “Bred” Air Jordan 1s, Michael Jordan dazzled in the ‘85 NBA Slam Dunk contest against all-time high flyers like Julius Erving, Clyde Drexler, and Dominique Wilkins. The latter won the contest, but MJ had the best shoes.
A great overhead shot early in the second episode of “The Last Dance” captures Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan talking strategy on the Chicago Bulls bench. In the still, Jordan can be seen wearing the Air Jordan 13 “Chicago.”
The preceding clip focuses on Pippen helping Jordan up off the floor of the old Boston Garden during the ‘89-90 NBA season. Jordan is wearing one of the greatest shoes of all time: the Air Jordan 5 “Fire Red.”
How legendary was the 1988 NBA Slam Dunk contest? Many purists still recall the finals showdown between Dominique Wilkins and Jordan as the greatest display of athleticism on an NBA court. Jordan wore the Air Jordan 3 “White/Cement” for the occasion.
Jordan wore many colorways and versions of the Air Jordan 1 during his first two seasons in the NBA, yet there was just something about the way the “Chicago” design looked on his feet as he soared to heights not many could attain.
The third episode of “The Last Dance” focuses on Dennis Rodman’s contributions as an opponent and member of the Chicago Bulls. As you would expect, there’s many memorable sneaker appearances, as well. Here is every new Air Jordan (and a bonus sneaker) spotted in Ep. 3 of “The Last Dance.”
As we’ve seen, “The Last Dance” isn’t all about Air Jordans. Leave it to Dennis Rodman to shake things up by wearing a pair of all-red Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars during a fleeting stroll through the hallways of Indianapolis’s Market Square Arena.
Seemingly at the height of their powers at the time, both Larry Bird and Magic Johnson conceded that Michael Jordan was their superior during the late ‘80s. Was it the shoes? The Air Jordan 4 “White/Cement” may have had something to do with it.
For all its accolades and noteriatery in the history of sneaker culture, you’d be surprised to learn that Michael Jordan wore the Air Jordan 3 “Black/Cement” exactly once during an NBA game: the ‘88 NBA All-Star Game. The tradition of the Chicago Bulls to switch to black shoes for the Playoffs didn't begin until the following season, when you could see Jordan in the next shoe...
“Shot on Ehlo… GOOD! THE BULLS WIN!” Chicago Bulls commentator Johnny Kerr’s emphatic call of Michael Jordan’s game winning shot is just as legendary as the Air Jordan 4 “Bred” Mike wore on that unforgettable afternoon.
Though Michael Jordan chose to wear the Air Jordan 7 “Bordeaux” just once during an “official” NBA Game, which was the 1992 All-Star Game, he did lace up the shoe during several Chicago Bulls practices as we see during “The Last Dance.”
Michael Jordan upped his scoring output to 32.3 points per game during the ‘98 NBA Playoffs and he also added a new colorway to his on court sneaker rotation that spring: the Air Jordan 13 “Playoffs.”
The catchy phrase “I Want to Be Like Mike” became as popular as any across playgrounds all around the world in the ‘90s. Gatorade’s charming commercial starring Michael Jordan highlights the superstar’s flashy moves and his Air Jordan 6 “Carmine.”
The controversial “Jordan Rules” book by Sam Smith lifts the curtain on the early ‘90s Chicago Bulls with several eye-raising accounts of what it was like to be Jordan’s teammate. Jordan wears the Air Jordan 5 “Black/Metallic” on the book’s cover.
Lovingly referred to as the Air Jordan 8 “Bugs Bunny” after the shoe made an appearance in a comical television commercial starring Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes star, the clean design was a favorite of Mike’s during the ‘92-93 NBA season.
Different from the Air Jordan 13 “Playoffs” that Michael Jordan would go on to wear during the latter stages of the '97-98 NBA campaign, the “Bred” colorway features a fiery red suede mudguard with black midsole pods.
The first time Michael Jordan wore the Air Jordan 9 wasn’t on the hardwood, but rather the baseball diamond. In Episode 7 of “The Last Dance,” we see Jordan taking his cuts in the batting cage with a cleated version of the Air Jordan 9.
Not only did Scottie Pippen rock the Air Jordan 10 “Chicago” or “Double Nickel,” Michael Jordan also laced up the shoe for an epic 55 scoring outburst against the New York Knicks late in the ‘95 NBA season.
Jordan wore a slightly different version of the Air Jordan 10 “Shadow” than the design that originally released at retail in 1994. His player exclusive variation featured his then jersey number #45 stitched onto the ankle.
It was believed to be a sign of the times when Nick Anderson picked Jordan’s pocket during the waning seconds of Game 1 of the ‘95 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals. Adding insult to injury, Anderson wore the Air Jordan 10 “Orlando” while doing so.
We don’t need to tell you that the Air Jordan 11 “Space Jam” is one of the most iconic sneakers in history, but you may be unfamiliar with its origins. Contrary to belief, the classy design was originally debuted by Jordan during the ‘95 NBA Playoffs.
Looking to fill the void left behind by Horace Grant’s defection to the Orlando Magic, the Bulls extended an olive branch to Dennis Rodman of all people. He wore the Nike Air Shake NDESTRUKT during a memorable run with the Bulls in ‘1995-1996.
Footwear and street fashion of the mid-90s were all about over the top branding and brash styling. And no sneaker had more to offer than Scottie Pippen’s signature Nike Air More Uptempo.
It's been twenty-two years since Michael Jordan broke out an exclusive sample pair of Air Jordan 13 Lows during the ‘98 Eastern Conference Finals and Jordan Brand has yet to give the shoe a proper retail release. The design seen here comes close, with the main difference being the red inner lining instead of the black lining on MJ's PE.
Byron Russell was described as an effervescent youngster in “The Last Dance.” But even Russell, nor a bad case of food poisoning from a late-night pizza pie, could stop Mike from scoring 38 points in Game 5 of the ‘97 NBA Finals.
Jordan’s final act in ‘98 feels as if it happened yesterday. Surveying the floor, Michael drove to the basket, left Russell in his dust, and calmly sunk his last two points in a Bulls uniform to end an era. He was wearing the Air Jordan 14 “Last Shot.”