In the fall of 1988, I was a junior at Long Island’s Smithtown High School East trying out for the school’s volleyball team. I was already six feet tall, and could jump a little. Making the team didn’t seem like a formality or anything, but I thought I had a good a shot as anyone. I just had one concern, which I brought up with the coach in his office before tryouts had even ended—would I be allowed to wear Air Jordan IIIs during games? This seemed important. I’d never owned a pair of Air Jordans before, and these were definitely going to be my first.
As it turned out, my concerns were unfounded. I didn’t make the team, and I didn’t get the Air Jordans either. Instead I wound up getting a pair of Air Jordan IIs that were being cleared out for $70—the IIIs would have to wait.
Fortunately, I wouldn’t have to wait long. In 1994 and 1995, Nike famously re-issued Air Jordans 1 through III, essentially kicking off the concept of retro sneakers. I, a broke recent college grad at the time, made some tough decisions and bought one of each style—black/red IIIs, II highs, and black/cement IIIs—as soon as they became available. A few months later, some were still available for as little as $20. I didn’t care. I had mine.
It would take a consistent moneymaker out of the lineup, but it would also make people rethink an incredible sneaker design that’s come to be taken for granted.
Last night at an event introducing the “remastered” Air Jordan Retros for Spring ‘15, much was discussed, mostly about a return to a classic method of sneaker making that was almost lost in an era where most basketball sneakers aren’t even made from leather anymore. But Jordan Brand VP of Footwear David Schecter made another announcement towards the end that nearly overshadowed everything else—the Air Jordan III would be going back in the vault, with no imminent return on the horizon. And seeing that the brand plans as much as two years out, it could be the shoe’s 30th anniversary (2018) before we see it again.
On some level, this is incredibly disappointing. The III has long been a favorite of nearly every Jordan aficionado, and, as Tinker Hatfield’s first Air Jordan, its significance to the entire line can’t be understated. A fresh pair of Air Jordan IIIs is key to nearly every sneaker rotation. And long-awaited drops like a black/cement ‘88 or mocha re-up will have to be awaited for a bit longer. But in reality, this is probably something that needs to happen.