In Defense of The Sequel
The only pair of Air Jordan IIs the author owns.
Sequels usually suck. The odds of another man-eating shark stalking a quaint seaside town are slim to none and the world didn’t need to see Sandra Bullock (props to Keanu for skipping it) go from stopping a speeding bus to taming a reckless cruise ship. Jay-Z and R. Kelly should’ve kept their worlds apart and left business unfinished. No one needed to follow 82 games of a 1998-99 Bulls team stripped of MJ, Scottie and Rodman to know that another title wouldn’t come in June. Another four years of George W. Bush in ’04…let’s not even get started on that.
But for every Jaws 2 or Speed 2, there’s a classic like Godfather II and Terminator 2 that one-ups the original. The Low End Theory proved that sometimes the second go-around is better than the first (anyone remember Tribe's People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm?). The Bulls’ drop-off in ’99 only opened the door for the Knicks to make a Finals run—albeit right into a Spurs wall. And we did just welcome in four more years of Obama yesterday. There’s hope for the sequel after all.
The Air Jordan II came on the heels of the original (full disclosure: the AJ1 is one of my personal favorites) and was the first game-changer in the line. While the Air Jordan1 benefited from being born first, it was—and no disrespect to Peter Moore and anyone that worked on the shoe—just a chromosome off from the Dunk. It garnered much press for being “banned” from the League and set the table for the modern athlete signature shoe endorsement, but strictly as a shoe, it was nothing groundbreaking (full disclosure II: of all my Jordans, the I is the one I have the most of) outside of the introduction of the Air Jordan wings logo.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
On a performance note, the Air Jordan II delivered, at least for Jordan himself (the only person that matters, it’s his shoe after all). In 1986-87, Jordan put up his highest single season scoring average (37.1), became the only dude not named Wilt to top 3,000 points in a season, secured a spot on the All-NBA First Team and won his first Slam Dunk Contest crown with the Air Jordan II laced on his feet.
Did I like them when they first dropped? No. But the same can be said of most Air Jordan releases for me. They’re usually so ahead of their time in design that it takes me some time to properly digest and appreciate. Many folks—collectors and casual wearers—still treat the II as the ugly stepchild of the family. It hasn’t been given the same retro love as other AJ models and certainly not the III, IV, V and XI that sit atop most people’s Air Jordan Pantheon. PE versions of the Air Jordan II did well, but as a whole, the II is largely ignored.
Many folks cite the Air Jordan III as the shoe that was the genesis of the Air Jordan lineage, but only because the III was an admittedly better-looking shoe, a commercial success from the jump, saw the debut of the now iconic Jumpman logo and the godfather of shoe design, Tinker Hatfield, brought it to life. All of that should be commended, certainly, but don’t forget the predecessor that paved its way.
With Jordan Brand soon to drop the “Nike Air” Air Jordan III, I hope that a faithful retro of the Air Jordan II is in the works, down to the “Made in Italy” designation, the “winged” box and $105 retail price (OK, at least keep it under a flight to Italy). I’m too old, married and a father to be camping for shoes, but I’ll definitely try my hand at a Twitter reservation if they ever give the Air Jordan sequel the proper respect it deserves.