In sneaker lure and for that matter in sports lure…there is no moment that perhaps stands above 3:51 pm CT on February 6th, 1988. That moment was when Michael Jordan; on his final attempt determined to defend his Slam Dunk Contest Championship from the year prior…Jordan took off from the foul line after running nearly the entire length of the floor. In that moment, the world seemingly stood still. The dunk was over just as fast as Jordan took off…but the flight path appeared to be in slow motion as Jordan palmed the ball in his right hand; a moment Tinker Hatfield drew inspiration from for the Air Jordan XXX. From that moment, Hatfield equated Jordan to having the world in the palm of his hand in that instance. Hence, the globe on the tongue of the signature. And for all intents-and-purposes, Tinker was correct.
In that moment of flight where Jordan seemed suspended in the air, one moment was frozen in time…and for those with a keen attention to detail 3:51 finds itself tucked away on the clock in the background. Ever the slightest of touches, the image was captured in a moment where thousands of flashbulbs popped and that specific moment in time, those 3 numbers separated by a colon solidified Jordan’s immortality in the history of not only sneakers…not only sports…but the world.
Not to be overlooked the 24-year old His Airness put on a dazzling display that seemingly defied the laws of nature. Only to have the capstone be his gravity defying dunk that made the world stand still on its axis. Flying through the air with grace and finishing his slams with thunderous authority that made you wonder if Jordan was human. Understated is the performance of Dominique Wilkins who subsequently pushed MJ to the brink, and forced a his hand to go where no man had gone before.
Jordan much like a specific moment in history of his youth, Jordan dared to defy the laws of gravity, the laws of motion, the laws of impossibility. With bated breath and palpable anticipation Jordan sized up his trajectory. Symbolically, Jordan’s moment draws the parallel to the waning moments before the launch of Apollo 11…the mission that put man on the moon. A moment in history where all eyes are transfixed on one singular entity, one group, one strand in the timeline of life where your imagination meets the reality in which we all live. As Jordan retreated to the deepest regions of the hardwood in the old Chicago Stadium…his distance traveled was a hair over 94-feet, as Jordan began his stride…the anticipation grew with the realization of each person in the arena and each person watching was you are witnessing a feat not once conceived in the minds of the masses.
In one moment, his stride turned into a planting and pushing off of the left foot. And where time appeared to stand still, Jordan soared like the proverbial eagle to the sea…and with the touch of the rim and tickling of the nylon, man was once again…on the moon. Debunking the limits of the human body, showcasing a stern defiance to the very gravity and inertia that bounds us all to the ground and to the earth that brought the Madhouse on Madison to its collective feet.
It is moments that are the soul of the sneaker culture, the very essence of why we collect. To be relive, to be amazed all over again…to rekindle and recapture that raw emotion that made you drop your jaw in awe. And while time may press onward, it shall never dim the memory…you never forget where you were when you first saw a moment, a feat that made you question what you just saw. And the best part of all this is…on February 6th, this 30th anniversary of that jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring feat makes you remember why we love this game. And it serves as a reminder…that the free throw lines of sport and life, are just mere obstacles to be jumped over.