I still remember the exact moment I knew I had to have these sneakers. It was in November 1986 when the newest Sports Illustrated arrived at my door with Michael Jordan on the cover. It was a shot of him going to the rim against the San Antonio Spurs while wearing the white and red version of the Air Jordan II. There was also an article in the magazine about the shoes itself, the synthetic iguana skin, Italian craftsmanship and subsequent price tag.
The Air Jordan II came out of nowhere in 1986. To put it into some context, you have to first understand that almost every basketball sneaker on the market at the time had very similar shapes and color blocking. For nike to come out with this Air Jordan that was an Italian-made, lizard skin, all-white, no-Nike-logo basketball sneaker was completely insane, but seem to make complete sense considering the athlete it was created for. I was only nine years old at the time but I woke up to watch the Michael “Air” Jordan highlights on Sportscenter every morning. To see Jordan come into his own as a young kid was just amazing.
Nike was on a verge of a revolution in 1987 thanks to the introduction of the Air Max and Visible Air technology, the Air Jordan II, Air Trainer I and my favorite Nike commercial of all-time featuring the Beatles’ Revolution soundtrack over Jordan, McEnroe, and a host of amateur athletes turning every kid in America into a lifetime Nike lover.
Michael Jordan had missed the Slam Dunk Contest in 1986 with an injury and it allowed five-foot-seven Spud Webb to take the title. In 1987 I sat on my grandparents floor in front of the television with the Nerf hoop to the side waiting for the 1987 Slam Dunk Competition to begin. Mike was back and performed a series of insane baseline and free-throw dunks to win his first of back-to-back slam dunk titles while wearing the Air Jordan II and cementing this shoe’s legacy forever.