top of page

Michael Jordan's Forgotten New Balance Moment: Exploring a Hidden Chapter in Sneaker History


Michael Jordan wore New Balances in this image by Jacobus Rentmeester from 1984. Via Reddit
Michael Jordan wore New Balances in this image by Jacobus Rentmeester from 1984. Via Reddit

Michael Jordan's Forgotten New Balance Moment: Exploring a Hidden Chapter in Sneaker History


A Journey Through Sneaker History

In the realm of pop culture and sneaker history, few names shine as brightly as Michael Jordan's. Known for his iconic partnership with Nike and the legendary Air Jordan line, Jordan's footwear legacy is celebrated worldwide. Yet, amidst the glittering tapestry of his sneaker journey, there's an often-overlooked chapter that deserves attention - his flirtation with New Balance.


The Prelude: Jordan's Dance with Adidas and Converse

Before the Air Jordan revolution, Michael Jordan had choices, and he wasn't always in Nike's corner. Initially, he favored Adidas over Nike, and during his college days, he laced up Converse sneakers. This early exploration of sneaker brands adds a fascinating layer to his journey.


The Rentmeester photo had Jordan doing a Jumpman-like pose before Nike ever used the Jumpman logo. Via Reddit
The Rentmeester photo had Jordan doing a Jumpman-like pose before Nike ever used the Jumpman logo. Via Reddit

The New Balance Encounter: A Glimpse into the Past

One remarkable, albeit lesser-known, moment in sneaker history occurred in 1984 when photographer Jacobus "Co" Rentmeester captured a captivating image of Jordan sporting New Balance sneakers. This image, originally intended for a special issue of Life magazine in anticipation of the Summer Olympics, would become an unexpected gem in the world of pop culture.


The Iconic Shot: Jordan in Flight, New Balance on Feet

Rentmeester's vision defied convention. Rather than capturing Jordan on a basketball court, he positioned him gracefully, akin to a ballet dancer, against a sun-drenched backdrop. The result was an image that showcased Jordan mid-air, wearing a pair of New Balance sneakers. This iconic snapshot found its way into the pages of Life magazine, etching itself into the annals of sneaker history.


Nike made this similar image after paying to use Rentmeester’s photo, and from it derived the Jumpman logo. Via Nike
Nike made this similar image after paying to use Rentmeester’s photo, and from it derived the Jumpman logo. Via Nike

The Lawsuit and the Birth of Jumpman

Three decades later, Rentmeester initiated a lawsuit against Nike, alleging that the famous Jumpman logo was birthed from his original New Balance-clad image of Jordan. This unexpected legal battle added a dramatic twist to the sneaker saga.


The Courtroom Drama and Jordan's Enduring Legacy

Despite Rentmeester's claims, the lawsuit ultimately faltered in the courts, leaving the Jumpman logo to continue symbolizing Jordan's enduring legacy across billions of dollars worth of sneakers and merchandise.


A Modern Interpretation: Joe Freshgoods' Tribute to History

Today, the memory of Michael Jordan's New Balance episode remains a niche but compelling part of sneaker history. Joe Freshgoods, a prolific collaborator with New Balance, recently paid homage to this overlooked chapter with a limited-edition release inspired by Rentmeester's iconic photograph.



Chicago designer Joe Freshgoods made a New Balance 650 inspired by the Rentmeester photos. Via Joe Freshgoods on Instagram
Chicago designer Joe Freshgoods made a New Balance 650 inspired by the Rentmeester photos. Via Joe Freshgoods on Instagram


The "Photoshoot for A Special Person" New Balance 650

Joe Freshgoods' limited-edition release, christened the "Photoshoot for A Special Person" New Balance 650, serves as a testament to the enduring appeal of this obscure sneaker moment. With only 500 hand-numbered pairs in circulation, this release stands as a collector's dream.


Conclusion: Illuminating a Forgotten Corner of Sneaker History

Michael Jordan's journey through the realm of sneakers is a captivating narrative of choices, creativity, and, at times, legal disputes. While New Balance may not be the first brand that comes to mind when thinking of the basketball legend, this overlooked chapter reminds us that even sneaker icons have their moments in the sun.


In the dynamic world of pop culture, the story of Michael Jordan and New Balance continues to captivate, offering a unique perspective on the cultural significance of sneakers.


Stay connected with Drippin Culture News for the latest trends and insights in pop culture and sneaker history.


Comments


bottom of page