In terms of stardom, it’s safe to say that Michael Jordan’s international presence is nothing short of iconic. Throughout his basketball career, and the years that followed, this unmatched influence allowed him to travel the world, spreading his love and talent for the game to the masses. In 1996, following his 72-10 championship season, Jordan and fellow NBA all-stars Charles Barkley, Jason Kidd, and Michael Finley made their way to Japan for the first ever, Nike-sponsored Hoop Heroes Tour. This was the first time that Jordan had played in Japan, and, although there was no actual game played, 32,000 Japanese fans filled the Yokohama Arena to catch a glimpse of the GOAT in action. They played various 1-on-1’s, 4-on-4’s, held three-point shooting contests, and even a 3-on-3 pitting Barkley, Kidd and Finley against American-born sumo wrestlers Akebono, Musashimaru and Konishiki, as Jordan acted as the referee.
This visit to Japan ultimately solidified Michael Jordan’s relationship to Japanese basketball. In fact, in May of 2004, on yet another promotional tour, Jordan opened his own “Jordan Court” in the center of Tokyo’s Shibuya district, in hopes of inspiring young, Japanese basketball dreamers to train hard and potentially make it to the NBA someday. Nowadays, MJ’s influence and Jordan Brand are just as present in Japanese culture and society as they are in the States, making Japan an honorary contributor to Jordan’s global success.
By acknowledging Michael Jordan’s evident and personal connection to Japan, it is no surprise that Jordan Brand has chosen the classic Jordan 12 silhouette as the third drop for their Fall “International Flight” pack. Featuring elements inspired by the Rising Sun Flag of Japan, the shoe is meant to pay homage to the country and the influence that the Jordan/Japan relationship has contributed to the game of basketball. With what may be the most-detailed version in the history of the silhouette, the shoe is dressed in a College Navy, Sail, and University Red upper, with a debossed, kimono print covering the upper and inner lining, as White, koi fish scale-textured mudguards provide contrast. The one-of-a-kind shoe is then finished off with University Red accents along the insole, undersole and heel, while kanji characters on the heel loop translate to “Jordan”, tying together the Japanese theme and completing the look.
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