Summer is here, and it’s lit: pick-up basketball games, barbecues, late nights with friends, and tons of sneaker heat wherever you look. Eastbay has always been the source for the hottest summertime releases, especially when it comes to Jordan Brand. Back in the day, it was no different – Eastbay had you covered no matter what season you were in. Summer was not the time of year that Jordan and Nike were known to drop brand new releases; however, they were known to drop new colorways and a few new shoes that are worth taking a look at. With that, here’s a few gems from some of the best Eastbay catalogs from the late ’90s and early ’00s.
It’s hard to believe, but heading into the summer of ’97, there were still sizes available for the Air Jordan XII black/red (aka the “Flu Game”) and white/red/black (aka the “Cherry”). Jordan wore both colorways during that ’96-’97 season and won his fifth championship rocking the black/reds. This was also the time that Jordan Brand was breaking away from Nike to become its own brand and introduced new spin-off models like the Nike Air Jumpman Pro Mid. The Jumpman Pro Mid had a similar design to the Air Jordan XII and also came in similar colors. It was an opportunity for Jordan Brand to capitalize on a market that was hungry for as many Jordan sneakers as possible, and there were plenty more to come.
The Jordan Brand was on fire heading into the summer of ‘98 after MJ won his sixth and final championship with the Bulls. The Eastbay pages reflected this, as there wasn’t much to choose from that summer since anything Jordan wore sold out quickly. There were some more notable spin-off models, including the Jumpman Pro Quick (made for Lakers star Eddie Jones), the Pro Strong (for the Sonics’ Vin Baker), and the Team Jordan (for several college and pro athletes). All these models were inspired by the Air Jordan XII and XIII and featured similar cushioning technologies.
1999 was the year Jordan Brand really started expanding with all types of new silhouettes. With Michael Jordan retired, everyone figured he was done for good. With that in mind, Jordan Brand continued to honor MJ’s legacy with spin-off models like the Jumpman VINdicate (for Vin Baker), the Jumpman Quick 6 (for Eddie Jones), the Jordan Lite, and the Jordan Team II. There was also a women’s Jordan inspired by the AJ XIII. The Air Jordan XIV continued to release in new and exciting colorways, including black/white/indigo and white/black/green models. There was also a low-cut version in royal/black/white. Jordan Brand expanded beyond basketball models by introducing the 3 Percent (inspired by Jordan’s body fat percentage), and the Jordan Trunner (for boxer Roy Jones Jr.).
The main highlight of the controversial Air Jordan XV was that the tongue stuck out, just like Jordan’s. This curious design was also featured on spin-off models like the Jumpman Select and Jumpman Swift 6. The Air Jordan XV was available in plenty of sizes and colors that summer, mainly because not many people were buying them. The design proved to be a bit too extreme, even though performance-wise, the XV was an excellent model. There was even a Jordan Moc inspired by the XV. Additionally that summer, the Air Jordan V returned in a clean white/silver/black colorway, which was perfect for summertime fits.
The Air Jordan XVI was a revolutionary sneaker in many ways: it featured low pressure visible Zoom Air and a removable gaiter that could be flipped inside out for all kinds of customizable looks. That summer of 2001, the whisper/cherrywood/graphite colorway released and was relatively unpopular. Over the years, however, sneakerheads have been begging for a retro of this specific colorway. Jordan Brand has yet to acknowledge the rising demand, but hopefully this one will get a proper retro in the coming years.
Besides the Air Jordan XVIII mid and low, some pretty important retros released during the summer of ’03. The Air Jordan VIII came out in the OG white/black/red colorway, plus a new black/chrome version (worn by Kobe Bryant during his sneaker free-agency season). The Air Jordan XI low in the OG white/cobalt/grey and black/red/charcoal colors both returned and sold out quickly. Jordan Brand added some more spin-offs, including the Jumpman Team FBI, which was notably worn briefly by Michael Jordan during his time with the Wizards.
Click through for more old Eastbay catalog pages featuring Jordans . . .