Story telling is a common thread in sneaker collaborations. Whether it is a material execution story, colorway inspiration, or just the hope to create something new, original, and hot, stories are told along with sneaker collabs. We have seen it all – let’s be honest. Favorite beaches, childhood heros, world sporting events, and even movies have loosely told stories through footwear, but none of these come close to celebrating the legacy and cultural impact as the Slam Dunk x Jordan Brand Collection.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, the game of basketball exploded across the globe thanks to advancement in broadcasting technology, the marketing machine that couples the medium, and a high-flying athlete by the name of Michael Jordan. Country by country, city by city, basketball penetrated the streets as kids and adults alike all wanted to “Be Like Mike.”

In America, Michael Jordan was more than the greatest athletic figure but a cultural icon. Spike Lee’s work with Nike transcended MJ from greatness on the court to even greater cultural relevancy off the court through product placement in his films and Mars Blackmon commercial series.


During the early 90s in Asia; however, Michael Jordan and the game of basketball exploded in popularity and cultural significance to an entire generation through the manga Slam Dunk.

Slam Dunk was a sports-themed manga written and illustrated by Takehiko Inoue from 1990-1996, but is still today one of the most sought after and read mangas. The manga told the story of Hanamichi Sakuragi, a troubled teen and his unlocked athletic potential recognized by Haruko Akagi. Coming together with other misguided teens, the manga tells the story of trouble, strife, and glory as the high school team achieves the ultimate success of becoming the best team in all of Japan. The characters went through all of these ups and downs to eventually achieve glory while wearing Air Jordans.

Slam Dunk x Air Jordan 6

The manga introduced the game of basketball to culture in Japan and the rest of Asia as well as Air Jordans through the channel of art. Like Spike Lee broke the barrier of on court and off court influence, so did Takehiko Inoue through Slam Dunk.

By 2012, over 120 million copies of Slam Dunk sold in Japan alone. Couple that number with almost the same number sold across the rest of Asia and you have more copies of the manga in the hands of consumers than people in America who watched Michael Jordan play throughout his career.

Today, Slam Dunk is still a relevant manga with a generation born years after the last issue was written. Much like Michael Jordan, the legacy and legend lives on and embraced by future generations.

When Jordan Brand and Takehiko Inoue came together for the Slam Dunk Collection, careful thought went into what would be the canvas for story telling. In Slam Dunk, the main characters wore only a handful of Air Jordans, but the most frequently worn pair was the Air Jordan 6. For the collaboration project, Jordan Brand executes an eye catching all red Air Jordan 6 with reflective details and etched graphics across the upper as well as Hanamichi Sakuragi’s jersey number (#10).

After six years of Slam Dunk, everything came to an abrupt end after Issue 31 of the series in 1996. Many readers were left wondering what happened to the characters following an injury in the final issue. For the first time in 18 years, Takehiko Inoue created new Slam Dunk graphics for the future on the Jordan Super.Fly 3. While many American heads are lusting, scheming, and dreaming of the Air Jordan 6 retros, in Asia, there is just as much demand and in some instances more demand for the Super Flys because of the new graphics never published before.

Jordan Brand elevates the concept of a collaboration to new heights with not only a retro and performance model with story telling throughout the product, but also through apparel and an accessory set of T-shirts.

Years from now, the Slam Dunk x Jordan Brand collaboration will be looked at as one of the most iconic partnerships in Jordan Brand’s rich legacy – not just because of its appealing design but for what it represents in regards to the alliance of basketball and sneakers as a whole.

Slam Dunk x Air Jordan 6

Why the Slam Dunk x Jordan Brand Collaboration is One of the Greatest Ever

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