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After 25 Years, Jordan's Still on Top of the Shoe Game

With the unveiling of the Air Jordan 2010 line in Miami last month, Michael Jordan and his new spokesperson Dwayne Wade ushered in 25 years of resplendent sneaks. Amongst the offerings at the lavish secret ceremony were the newest Air Jordans, clearly the focus of this unveiling, which Jordan called a "pinnacle of 25 years" and "marks the future of the Jordan brand."

The flagship shoe is a minimalist mid-top that takes literally Jordan's ability to see through his opponent. The side of the shoe has a window so you can see into the shoe from the outside. And its spokesperson, Dwayne Wade, is the Jordan franchise's first since Air Jordan himself.

But more amazing than the progression of a shoe company over 25 years is the fact that Jordan is still as prevalent as ever nearly 7 years after his final retirement. His Airness took Nike from a shoe company to a lifestyle brand, effectively creating basketball as a style of sporting apparel. His company's constant release of new sneaker varieties propelled sneaker collection and created a whole critical culture around men's footwear that never existed before.

Nikes are still the best-selling shoe brand around the world and that is, in no small way, due to the long relationships basketball players and fashionistas alike have developed with Jordans. From Peter Moore's first design, 1985's Air Jordan 1 to the 2009 Holiday offering, the Jordan 60+ line, these shoes have seen a progression that have changed the way people view basketball shoes. Classic designs like the Air Jordan 12's, with their rising sun radial stitching, became staples of basketball courts from the streets to the suburbs and are still sported today.

But now that Jordan has changed the game, many of his company's newest designs have gone retro. His 60+ line is designed to commemorate games where he scored 60 or more points. Like the Air Jordan 7 Retro DMP, that is a reimagining of an older hi-top but is re-colored to commemorate the 1993 matchup between the Bulls and the Orlando Magic when Jordan dropped 64 points. These re-imagined throwback designs are reconnecting Jordan disciples with the shoes they loved growing up.

After 25 years, Jordan still commands the respect of an industry, the love and adoration of fans and the critique and criticism of collectors who demand the best (and often get it). His newest 60+ line and the Air Jordan 2010 design are just further proof that, 25 years after taking his first leap up into the shoe business, his Airness has not come down.