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Air Jordan At 25: It Must Still Be The Shoes (And Michael Jordan)

Michael Jordan (L) and Dwayne Wade show off the new Air Jordan 2010, which also is the 25th anniversry shoe.November 12, 2009: It's a quarter century and counting for Jordan Brand, which has unveiled its 25th anniversary Air Jordan 2010 shoe. The product will hit retail Feb. 13, 2010, during NBA All-Star Weekend (MSRP $170). Marketing will trumpet the event, including print, Internet and a party in Dallas prior to the All-Star Game featuring Michael Jordan. Lead agency is Wieden + Kennedy, New York.

Jordan Brand also said that NBA all-star Dwyane Wade from the Miami Heat will be the first player to debut the Air Jordan 2010 on-court, which Wade said on his Twitter page would happen during All-Star Weekend. Wade spent the first six years of his NBA career with Converse, then made the switch to sibling Nike division Jordan Brand in July. Jordan Brand endorsers also include Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Jeter.

Jordan has spent much of the year in the public eye, including inductions into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September and the Olympic Hall of Fame in August as a member of the 1992 gold medal Dream Team. Gatorade honored Jordan with a limited-edition SKU with labels that highlighted his career, and ESPN put out a special-edition magazine featuring Jordan cover-to-cover. He also gets airplay in TV spots for Hanes, and is the head of basketball operations for the Charlotte Bobcats.

Jordan Brand last month launched the 2009 version of its "Become Legendary" campaign featuring Wade, Anthony, Paul and Jeter.

Jordan's youngest son, Marcus, made news this month when he wore Air Jordan's as a freshman guard for the University of Central Florida. That created a rift between UCF and adidas, which had an exclusive contract with the team. The younger Jordan said he wore the basketball shoes "because they hold special meaning to [my] family." The situation harkened back to 1984, when then-NBA rookie Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls refused to take off his red and white Air Jordans, which had not been sanctioned by the league. Nike paid the $5,000-per-game fine levied on Jordan, and the rest is basketball shoe history.

Gatorade honored Jordan's induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame in a limited-edition SKU with labels that highlighted his career.“The celebration of the Air Jordan 2010 and our 25th anniversary are the pinnacle of a year full of milestones for me,” Jordan said in a statement. “With each shoe, consumers have pushed me to take the next Air Jordan beyond their wildest imagination. The Air Jordan 2010 marks the future of Jordan Brand and proves there are no limits to what this Brand is capable of creating.”

Jordan Brand had been using Super Bowl-style Roman numerals to signify the annual release of new Air Jordans from I through XXIII, but stopped at 23 to honor the number Jordan wore in the NBA. Subsequent styles are now named after the year in which they are released.

Acclaimed shoe designers Tinker Hatfield, vp-special projects/design for Nike, and Mark Smith, creative director for Jordan Brand, collaborated with Michael Jordan on the Air Jordan 2010. Air Jordan 2009 and now the Air Jordan 2010 utilize a green technology under Nike’s "considered design" ethos of combining sustainability with performance and innovation. The Air Jordan 2010 also is the first basketball shoe with a layered toe construction that has an independent forefoot support cover. According to Jordan Brand, this allows the shoe to "mimic an actual foot’s flexibility and movement without being restricted by the shoe’s structures, assisting in a player’s ability to be more agile in the game."

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