Championship Kicks: All of Michael Jordan's NBA Finals Sneakers

It’s mid-June and that means only one thing for fans of basketball: the NBA Finals! For sneaker fans, that means special Finals edition colorways for each team’s biggest stars.

But this wasn’t always the case. Only in recent years have we come to expect special edition sneakers for the Finals. With the combination of the rise in popularity of sneakers and the NBA’s biggest superstars like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Kevin Durant all making Finals appearances, it only makes sense that the footwear brands will create even more PE colorways for their players on the sport’s brightest stage. Going even further than just special colorways, some signature athletes have even gotten redesigned versions of their signature shoes specifically for the playoffs, like the “Elite Series” models by Nike Basketball for LeBron and Durant.

All of these playoff editions and special colorways certainly help sell more sneakers, but whether or not they are actually necessary is very debatable. After all, the greatest player of all time wore the same shoe he played in all regular season for his playoff runs to his six NBA chmpionships. We’re talking about Michael Jordan, of course. Since MJ’s signature Air Jordan line is largely responsible for the entire world of sneaker collecting—which eventually leads to why the “postseason” and finals PE sneakers mentioned earlier are created—I thought we would take a look at the shoes Michael Jordan wore during each of his six legendary Finals appearances.

After wearing white-based colorways of his signature shoes during the regular season, Jordan would always switch to black colorways come Playoffs time, as was the tradition for him and his Bulls teams throughout the years. Since the black-based colorway for each of his shoes is usually the most popular for today’s casual-minded Air Jordan fan, some of his most memorable shoes happened to be on his feet for his most meaningful games.

01
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1991- Air Jordan VI

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After having trouble getting past the Detroit Pistons “Bad Boys” in the Playoffs in previous years, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls made it to their first NBA Finals in 1991 where they met the Los Angeles Lakers led by Magic Johnson. MJ’s first Finals appearance would lead to his first Championship, as the Bulls convincingly defeated the Lakers in five games. On Michael’s feet: the ‘Black/Infrared’ colorway of the Air Jordan VI.

02
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1992 - Air Jordan VII

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Michael’s second Finals appearance one year later in 1992 would also lead to his second title, as the Bulls defeated the Portland Trailblazers in six games. This season he was wearing the Air Jordan VII. The VII, which was the first Air Jordan to have no Nike branding anywhere on the shoe, featured a sleek and fairly simple build with Huarache technology. For the Playoffs, MJ laced up the iconic ‘Black/True Red’ colorway.

03
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1994 – Air Jordan VIII

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Completing his first three-peat with the Bulls after defeating the Charles Barkley led Phoenix Suns in 1994, Michael wore the strapped-up Air Jordan VIII in ‘Black/True Red’. This version would actually become nicknamed the “Playoffs” colorway due to the fact that the ’94 Playoffs were the only time he wore them on court.
04
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1996 - Air Jordan XI

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After a shocking, but fortunately for us all brief retirement following the 1993-94 season, Michael eventually led the Bulls back to the Finals in 1996 after a record-setting 72-win season. It just so happened the greatest player led the greatest team while wearing his arguably greatest shoe that year; the patent leather clad Air Jordan XI. For the ’96 Finals against the Seattle Supersonics, Michael wore the always-popular ‘Black/True Red’ colorway, also known as simply the “Breds”.
05
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1997 – Air Jordan XII

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In ’97 the Bulls led by MJ, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman were back in the Finals again, this time facing the Utah Jazz. The iconic Air Jordan XI was a hard act to follow, but Nike did so quite nicely with the boldly blocked, pebbled leather constructed Air Jordan XII. Throughout the ’97 Playoffs and Finals, Michael wore both the ‘Black/White’ and ‘Black/Varsity Red’ colorways. But it was the red-accented version he wore during his famous “Flu Game” in Game 5 when he scored 38 points while severely sick with the flu that ultimately makes that colorway the most historic.

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1998 – Air Jordan XIII and XIV

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The Bulls met the Jazz for a second consecutive year in the ’98 Finals. Within the six game series, Michael actually laced up two different shoes. Beginning the series in the Air Jordan XIII, which he had worn all season, he then debuted the Ferrari-inspired XIV in Game 3. He would wear them again in Game 4 before switching back to XIII’s for Game 5. The XIV was back for Game 6, and on Michael’s feet as he hit his famous “Last Shot”, the game winning, championship winning, and final basket of his career as a Chicago Bull.