Michael Jordan’s 1987-1988 campaign will go down as one of the best individual NBA seasons in league history. Though his first championship ring was three seasons away, Michael launched a statistical assault on the rest of the league, separating himself from his peers in the process. Jordan laid claim to virtually every accolade possible during the season, including League MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, All-Star Game MVP, Scoring Champion, Steals Leader, 1st Team All-NBA and 1st Team All-Defense.
The way Michael was redefining the way we looked at basketball as a sport, he was doing the same with basketball footwear. Along with perhaps the greatest sneaker designer of all time, Tinker Hatfield, Jordan and Nike launched the Air Jordan III during the same season. The shoe featured revolutionary concepts, like Visible Air, elephant print and the first public appearance of the Jumpman logo. To help market the Air Jordan III to the public, Nike called on Michael’s good friend and film director Spike Lee, who reprised his She’s Gotta Have It role as Mars Blackmon for the advertisement campaign.
The most well-known Jordan memory created while wearing the Air Jordan III is also one of the defining moments of his career. Looking to repeat as the NBA Slam Dunk Champion, Michael took the floor against dunk nemesis Dominique Wilkins at the Old Chicago Stadium during All-Star Weekend in 1988. The two athletic juggernauts squared off, matching each other dunk for dunk until they eliminated the “competition.” In the finals, Dominique took a lead after two dunks, setting the stage for a final dunk showdown between the two.
With Michael needing to post a big score, he reached into his bag of tricks for a dunk he attempted in the previous year’s contest – the free-throw-line dunk. Though he had done the dunk before, Michael felt he could add enough flair to put it over the top, and that’s exactly what he did. On his second attempt, Michael ran down the court, took off from the free throw line, cocked the ball back in mid air and kicked his legs out, completing the best-looking free throw dunk the world had seen at that time. With Wilkins’ final dunk only scoring a 45, Michael was able to seal the deal on a second-straight Slam Dunk Title.
The shoes Jordan wore for the ’88 Dunk Contest were the “Cement” Air Jordan IIIs, which will make a return to retail a week from tomorrow for the first time since 2003. Perhaps the single most iconic sneaker in the entire Jordan line, the shoe features tumbled white leather, signature cement grey elephant print, a black midsole, and red detailing on the tongue and inner liner. This year’s version will come almost exactly the same way the Air Jordan III came in 1988 – with cement-printed box and paper, orange hang-tag and tech booklet.
To celebrate the return of the Air Jordan III, Sole Shots has captured some of the best “Cement” Air Jordan III photography from members of the Sole Collector Forum and beyond. Be sure to leave a comment and let the photographers know how you feel about their work below.
Pat Lauder aka quickster, Gilroy, California
Andre Aranez aka FINESSE, Southern California
Jerek Hollender aka jmh97213, Oregon
joegon103, Northern Miami
JHONNYC410, Queens, New York
If you’re interested in submitting your photos for Sole Shots, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and location with your submissions. You also have the option of providing us with a link to your online photo album or website to link back to when we post your work. You do not have to be a registered member of Sole Collector to participate.