A Brief History of the Air Jordan III

Published on February 4th, 2013 | by Jeremy Melendez | 5 Comments | 2,493 Views

Ah, the Air Jordan III.

The shoe’s simplistic and bold design has captured the hearts of sneakerheads everywhere.

With the Air Jordan III ’88 Retro release right around the corner, we’ve decided to give you a crash course on the history of the sneaker. Who knows you might even learn something new!

So pull out your pen and paper and take some notes…class is now in session.


Introduced in 1988 the Air Jordan III was released in four classic colorways: white/cement, black/cement, ‘Fire Red’, and ‘True Blue’. At the time of release the shoe sold for $100 retail.

The Air Jordan III was the first Jordan shoe created by legendary footwear designer Tinker Hatfield. Hatfield would go on to design the Air Jordan IV through XV as well as the XX and XX3. He even co-designed the new Air Jordan XX8 set to drop later this month.

The creation of the Air Jordan III marked the first time that a designer worked with Michael Jordan to create the perfect shoe. Michael wanted a light, durable shoe that could withstand his extreme playing style. Together, Michael and Tinker developed a mid-top sneaker that featured a leather upper and stylish elephant print trim on the heel and toebox.

Michael wore the Air Jordan III while winning the All Star MVP, All-Defensive First Team, and Defensive Player of the Year awards during his 1987-1988 season. His success on the court only added to the shoe’s popularity.

The Air Jordan III set the tone for future releases by being both fashionable and functional. It was also the first shoe to include the iconic “Jumpman” logo on the tongue in addition to the “Nike Air” logo on the heel. The Jumpman has been included on every Jordan release since.

Not only was the Air Jordan III one of the most popular releases from Jordan Brand, it was also featured in one of the most memorable advertising campaigns ever. The ad starred famous director Spike Lee as Mars Blackmon, a character from Spike’s 1986 film She’s Gotta Have It, and the legendary Michael Jordan.

Over the past 25 years the Air Jordan III has been re-released several times. The shoe was first retroed in 1994 and was released in the original white/cement, and black/cement colorways. After the ’94 release the “Nike Air” heel logo was replaced with the Jumpman.

One of the more popular releases includes the 2007 ‘Do the Right Thing’ retro. The DTRT colorway commemorated Spike Lee’s relationship with Nike/Jordan Brand. The shoe used a colorway inspired by a movie poster for Spike Lee’s film Do the Right Thing. The movie (and the poster) feature several Air Jordan sneakers including the III and IV. The DTRTs featured a blue upper and gold midsole to complement the inner tongue and lace eyelets.

Another notable release is the 2010 Air Jordan ‘Doernbecher’ which was created for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon. The sneaker retailed at $160 with all proceeds from the shoe going to support the hospital through charity. The limited edition shoe included a monochromatic red upper as well as red elephant print.

What makes the Doernbecher design standout amongst other Air Jordan III releases is the fact that is was created by 11 year old athlete and cancer survivor Cole Johanson who put his eccentric spin on the classic sneaker.

The iconic design and legendary colorways of the the Air Jordan III helped cement its position in sneaker history. In recent years the shoe has been featured in dozens of “must-have” lists and “best of” countdowns.

With the retro release of the white/cement colorway dropping on February 6, 2013 the shoe will once again be stamped with the historic “Nike Air” logo on the heel instead of the Jumpman. The Air Jordan III will come with a $200 price tag and will be available online through select Jordan retailers.

Let us know if you plan on picking up this piece of sneaker history when it hits stores on February 6th. Also, feel free to share your favorite Air Jordan colorways in the comments below.

Want to know where you can get a pair of Air Jordan III Retro ’88s? Click here!

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About the Author

is an artist, musician, and editor for Comatose magazine. He is currently the lead singer/ukulele player for The Fly Emirates. In his spare time, Jeremy draws pictures of himself and his life in an autobiographical webcomic.



  • SoloDolo

    id rather JB release the black cement 3s

    • http://Simplicity.TheComicSeries.com/ Jeremy Eavor Melendez

      I’m pretty sure we’ll see more releases like this from Jordan is they sell well. I wouldn’t doubt that we’ll see the ’88 Black Cement colorway drop.

  • sneakgame

    y doesnt jordan just do a complete retro these new releases dont even have nike on the sole

    • http://www.comatosemag.com/ Roque A. Deleon

      Jordan dosen’t want people passing off the retros as the original sneaker, which is why I don’t think they would want to do a complete retro.

  • Pingback: [BLOCKED BY STBV] Beaters: Air Jordan V Retro 'Grape' VS Air Jordan V Retro 'Black Grape' | Comatose Mag

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