Michael Jordan Turns 51: Where Have You Gone, Air Jordan XX9?

Who knew that 2014 was going to be such a transformative year for Michael Jordan? He just turned 51 today, he recently became the father of twin daughters, his Charlotte Bobcats are going to have one thing suck less when they become the Charlotte Hornets later this year and the Air Jordan XX9 just launched this past weeke… wait, what?
Michael Jordan holding up to the Air Jordan XX8 last year. Image: Getty Images
Michael Jordan holding up to the Air Jordan XX8 last year. Image: Getty Images
For the first time in a long time, the latest Air Jordan will not debut on retail shelves in February. Instead we got the final Air Jordan XX8 proper in the “Bamboo” colorway and the latest edition of the Air Jordan XX8 SE that will serve as a placeholder until the XX9 is revealed. If you have been reading the sneaker internets over the past few weeks, you might have seen a quote or two from Jordan Brand talking about taking their time with the XX9 and positioning it as more of a Fall shoe to coincide with the start of the new basketball season. The logic is pretty sound and from a business perspective, maybe they felt like distancing themselves from the highly divisive XX8 (a performance marvel that was shunned by sneakerheads). But there was a definitely a gaping hole around All-Star Weekend that used to be filled by Michael Jordan holding up that latest model during the Jordan Brand party.
Think about how much the latest Air Jordan used to be a big part of the February showcase event. From the Air Jordan 7 “Bordeaux” that was unlike any other Jordan Mike had worn on the court up to that point to the Air Jordan 11 “Columbia” that was the highlight of arguably the greatest collection of kicks in one place in 1996 to his swan song in the Air Jordan 18, this was the time of year when we saw the print ads and the slick commercials that we replayed in our minds over and over again. Hell, there’s probably a click-bait list post out there (which we are totally guilty of doing) detailing the 51 greatest Jordan commercials ever trending at this very moment. Much like everything with the Jordan mythos, his timing was always impeccable. And now we’re seeing the breaking of that cycle.
Then again, maybe the time is now to shake things up. The internet loves to hate on everything new that Jordan Brand does and all they ever go for these days are retros (which they also complain about because whatever). The delay could be Jordan Brand taking on the personality of their namesake and turning into hyper-competitive, borderline-insane Jordan Brand that won’t let up until they have a design that will not only impress the basketball player looking for the bleeding edge in performance, but also the sneakerhead that can’t dribble a basketball between their legs but owns every retro (and still complaining about them because whatever).
Jordan Brand has to “reclaim” the brand for themselves once more; it has to irk them to no end that there is a segment of the population out there that thinks they peaked with the Air Jordan 1-14 and that everything else that has come out has been inferior. While the voices who say that are very small in terms of actual numbers, they are very loud and kind of annoying. And we all know how Mike feels about people who doubt him.
On September 15, 1984, the Air Jordan was created (it released on April 1 of the following year) and the world was never the same. When you turn 30, you long for the things that shaped your youth and spend an inordinate amount of effort trying to relive those days. At the same time you should be looking forward to the future and the possibilities out there that are both scary and exciting. You’ll never grow and move on if you just live in the past. I’d like to think Jordan Brand understands that better than most.
But who cares about that stuff, right? The Air Jordan 6 just dropped in 2 colorways! It’s 1990 all over again, whoooo….

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