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Today in Performance Sneaker History: Michael Jordan Sets Bulls Record in AJ2

Before iconic models like the Air Jordan 3 and 11, there was the AJ2. The 1987 model was designed by Bruce Kilgore and has since become a symbolic piece of retro basketball footwear. The original model featured luxurious leathers, boasted a “Made in Italy” tag, and would end up being the sneakers Mike laced up for his very first Dunk Contest win.

During the ’86-87 NBA season, Jordan was beginning to build his legacy. He had closed 1986 in strong fashion, putting up 40+ points in nine straight games through November and December. But on February 25, 1987, Michael outscored everyone with 58 points, including every player in the league that season as well as every player in Chicago Bulls history. Jordan shot an impressive 16-for-25 from the field, as well as an near-perfect 26-for-27 from the free throw line. Although Michael himself had dropped 63 points on Boston during the previous season’s Playoffs, his 58 points were the highest in Chicago regular season history.

With a cutting-edge design (no Nike Swoosh or lateral branding of any sort), the Air Jordan II can be considered something of a cult success. Unlike so many of the retro AJ models, the 2 never seemed to fully catch on with collegiate and professional players. This may be due in part to its somewhat awkward and bulky build, which, despite an encapsulated Air unit for cushioning, gives off a high-profile, boot-like feel. Unfortunately, the low top version, which is decidedly more court-ready, hasn’t been released since 1994.

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