The Last Dance: San Antonio Spurs players list their favorite Air Jordan sneakers
By Dylan Carter
To celebrate the final episodes of The Last Dance, we’re looking at some San Antonio Spurs players’ favorite Air Jordan shoes, according to the team’s IG.
All eyes have been on ‘The Last Dance’ documentary series with the NBA season suspended. Without new games to soak up our attention, the basketball world has clung onto these famed stories of the past, illuminating younger fans to the greatness that Michael Jordan boasted. This restored interest in Jordan’s legacy has sprung up in the San Antonio Spurs as well.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen Spurs players from various ages speaking about Jordan’s legacy, his impact on the game, and on their individual growth. One area we haven’t heard all that much about is his otherworldly presence in the sneaker game.
For basketball players, shoes are much more than just a piece of apparel—kicks are an expression of self. One Spurs player in particular, seven-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, frequently wears Air Jordan shoes and is even endorsed by Jordan Brand. You can catch LMA sporting various editions of the classic shoe on and off the court at just about any Spurs basketball game.
Recently, the Spurs social media team reached out to some of the players to discuss their favorite Jordan sneakers. They published this for the fans to take note of on the team’s Instagram page with art designs of various editions of the shoes to accompany their quotes.
As we celebrate Jordan’s legacy and his impact on basketball culture, let’s take a look at what some fan favorites think of these kicks and which are most impactful to them. To start off, we’re going to look at two colorways of the most iconic shoe ever.
Next: Air Jordan 1
San Antonio Spurs Favorite Jordans: Air Jordan 1, Chicago & Bred (Trey Lyles and Marco Belinelli)
First released in 1985, the Air Jordan 1 is the definitive basketball shoe for any hoops fanatic or sneakerhead. If you’re a shoe collector and a basketball fan, there’s almost no chance you haven’t owned a pair of these shoes in any variety of colorways at some point in your life.
Over the years there have been countless reimaginations of the classic shoe, but the one that started it all was the Air Jordan 1 “Bred,” which has been re-released as a retro shoe multiple times since it’s inception. Designed by Nike shoe designer and savant Peter Moore, the Bred colorway was meant to fit with the Chicago Bulls’ away uniform so that Michael could put these on while the team wore their red or alternative black uniforms.
The Air Jordan 1 “Bred” was selected by first-year Spur Trey Lyles as his favorite shoe, noting it’s classic nature as a major reason for the pick. Veteran sharpshooter Marco Belinelli noted more distinctive reasoning for his pick.
Belinelli’s favorite Air Jordan shoe is the Air Jordan 1 “Chicago” because it’s the shoe he sported during his tear against the Boston Celtics in the 1986 NBA Playoffs. In Game One, Jordan exploded for 49 points before following that up with an NBA-record 63 points in the next game against the Larry Bird-led Celtics. This is remembered by many as the moment when the basketball world, including Larry Legend himself, knew that an all-time great had arrived.
Jordan didn’t win his first championship until five seasons and multiple iterations of his shoe later, but that iconic moment is etched in NBA history forever; as is that colorway.
Next: Air Jordan 5
San Antonio Spurs favorite Jordans: Air Jordan 5, Fire Red (DeMar DeRozan)
Originally released in five different colorways in 1990, the Air Jordan 5 is a historically great shoe that’s as versatile as it is comfortable. The most memorable of the group was the “Fire Red” colorway, which has been utilized on various Jordan shoes to date by contrasting the blistering warmth of the red outlines with the clean white base.
This was noted as Spurs star DeMar DeRozan’s favorite Air Jordan shoe, although he seems to be a big an of them all. DeRozan is known for having excellent shoe game and has worn Air Jordans on the court various times throughout his playing career. This is especially fitting considering that DeRozan’s biggest influence is Kobe Bryant, whose biggest influence was Michael Jordan.
Just a few weeks ago, DeRozan told a story about one of his run-ins with Kobe during his days as the face of the Toronto Raptors.
DeMar’s Kobe story is perfect ?
?: IG/@nicekicks pic.twitter.com/3K1exp9Ei4
— Yahoo Sports Canada (@YahooCASports) March 26, 2020
There’s an unwritten code in the NBA that says a player shouldn’t wear the shoes of the player that he’s playing against. DeRozan had spent the whole season wearing Bryant’s shoes but when he visited Los Angeles to face the Lakers, he decided to pivot and wear a pair of Air Jordan 10s. Bryant didn’t take kindly to that, as you can see in the clip above.
Since they were first released, the Air Jordan 5s have been re-released as “Retros” more than 40 times because of their sustained popularity. Nike and Jordan continue pumping out new editions of the classic shoe and every time, they get run off the rack as quickly as they arrived. DeRozan’s taste is distinguished, which shines through in his Air Jordan selection.
Next: Air Jordan 11
San Antonio Spurs favorite Jordans: Air Jordan 11, Concord & Bred (LaMarcus Aldridge and Derrick White)
Though the first six shoes tend to have a cult following unlike the others, the Air Jordan 11 is the exception to that rule. It’s regarded as one of the sleekest, most comfortable and reliable pairs of basketball kicks that you could ask for. It’s also versatile in that is has come in both high-top and low-top versions since a year after the original was released in 1995.
These are amongst the greatest creations of Nike genius and world-renowned sneaker designer Tinker Hatfield. The simple black and white colorway of this shoe is called the “Concord” colorway, partially because of the slight purplish hue along the black patent leather and white material. It’s in the running for the most popular Jordan shoe, which is why it makes sense that this classic is Aldridge’s go-to.
However, the “Bred” colorway that we discussed previously prevailed with the Jordan 11s for its sleek design, contrasting the black patent leather and materials with red soles and a red Jordan logo. The slight touch of fiery red makes it one of the coolest shoes you could ask for, which is why it’s combo guard Derrick White’s favorite iteration of the shoe.
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Amongst the popular colorways for this shoe is the “Space Jam” colorway as it’s the shoe that was debuted in Michael Jordan’s notorious crossover with the Looney Toons. These are one of the most sought-after pairs of Air Jordans ever because of the sleek design and historical significance.
His Airness debuted the Air Jordan 11s in a game against the Orlando Magic in 1995 despite warnings from Hatfield that the shoe wasn’t ready for the market. Still, who’s going to tell Michael Jordan that he can’t wear his own shoe? They were said to be one of his personal favorites of all of the hundreds of unique designs that Jordans come in and for that, they’re wildly popular.
What we’ve learned from The Last Dance and decades of hysteria surrounding Jordan shoes is that people aren’t just interested in the man, but the greatness that he emanates. Instead of being looked down upon, Jordan made basketball shoes something for people to crave and respect. People wear Jordans to school, work, basketball games, weddings, proms, funerals and just about any momentous life event you can think of!
Yes, it has a lot to do with the design of the shoe, but like these Spurs favorites alluded to, it’s also about the memories and overall respect attached to them.