A Brief History of the Air Jordan 14
Modelled on Michael Jordan’s beloved Ferrari 550, the Air Jordan 14 went from zero to a 100 in mere seconds. Debuting during the 1998 NBA Finals, the AJ14 first hit the hardwood after industry godfather Tinker Hatfield showed MJ an early prototype of the model, and His Airness simply couldn’t resist taking them for a test drive. Despite Tinker imploring him not to wear the sneakers, Mike famously laced the AJ14 en-route to his sixth and final NBA Championship.
Immortalised by the generation-defining ‘Last Shot’ against the Utah Jazz, the Air Jordan 14 is still ringing in our heads all these years later, the signature model recently refuelled by high-end collaborations with the likes of Edison Chen’s CLOT and Jumpman Queen Aleali May.
In light of the recent Air Jordan 14 ‘Red Lipstick’ release, we thought we’d stick Michael Jordan’s Ferrari 550 in reverse, and take a look back at what made the supersonic silhouette so special.
Vroom Vroom: The Engine
Every single design element was considered by Tinker and Mark Smith to evoke the feeling of extreme speed. Supercar tyres inspired the rubber heel panels, deluxe quilted uppers referenced Ferrari’s Italian leather interiors, and Jumpman shields echoed the prancing horse fender badge. Each pair sported no less than 14 different logos! MJ’s second retirement was announced shortly afterwards, so the AJ14 went down in history as the last shoe that MJ laced up as a Bull.
Low-cut, aerodynamic, and built for speed, the Air Jordan 14 came fastened with dual zoom units and breathable mesh vents on the outsole. Heralded for its technological innovation, the AJ14 is also lauded as one of the most comfortable Jordan models.
Still, Jordan’s 14th signature model was not without its flaws. Sneakerheads and ballers reported issues with the toe box area becoming unglued over time, and the signature ‘teeth’ on the Phylon midsoles were also known to crease easily.
Despite these issues, the Air Jordan 14’s engine was regarded as one of the best of the era!
An impressive eight colourways were originally released for Air Jordan 14 – three of them low-tops. In something of a rare occurrence for the Jordan Brand, all colourways were considered triple A, headlined by the inimitable Black/Varsity Red.
We had to wait five long years for the first Air Jordan 14 retro, the flurry of releases between September 2005 and March 2006 emblazoned by ‘The Last Shot’ colourway. In 2008, the Collezione ‘Countdown’ Package arrived, a brand new colourway paying homage to the luxe black Bulls pinstripe jersey.
In 2011, the Air Jordan 14 surfaced yet again, this time releasing ‘The Last Shot’ retro for a second time – followed shortly by the OG red and white colourway. In 2015, we even saw the first Air Jordan 14 Low since 2006! But the heat didn’t stop there!
The Defining Moments Pack (2017), ‘Rip Hamilton’ (2019), and the ‘Reverse Ferrari’ (2019) all hit the market at an incredible velocity, and who can forget the link-up with streetwear soothsayers, Supreme!
Hitting Top Speed
More recently, the Air Jordan 14 has been refuelled by some supersonic collaborations, with both Edison Chen’s CLOT and Jumpman queen Aleali May riding shotgun.
CLOT’s weaponised Air Jordan 14 was a sequel to the coveted CLOT x Air Jordan 13 (2018), the design again taking cues from Terracotta Warrior armour plates. Originally teased in September 2020, CLOT also incorporated a traditional knot-and-coin design on the heel, the eye-catching insignia representing prosperity and happiness.
Aleali May also peeled back our eyelids in this year, the 29-year-old model and designer only the second woman ever to collaborate with the Jumpman. Similar to her other collaborations, Aleali heavily referenced her heritage, looking to Jade jewellery and motorbike culture for inspiration.
Jordan Brand have also been fuelling the silhouette with plenty of in-line heat in 2021, with the ‘Red Lipstick’ colourway flying off shelves in September.
With this kind of momentum in 2021, expect the model to burn plenty more rubber in 2022 and beyond!