words // Nick DePaula
While Michael was off swinging away at change-ups in Birmingham, the folks in Beaverton had already hatched a plan to still have the latest Air Jordan appear on-court in the NBA during the 1993-1994 season.
The plan was fairly simple, but at the time unheard of: Make player exclusive versions for players throughout the league.
Custom versions of another dude's signature model, to that point, hadn't been done before. Yet Penny Hardaway, BJ Armstrong, Mitch Richmond, Latrell Sprewell and even Kendall Gill all rocked exclusive variations of MJ's ninth model that never made it to retail.
Well after MJ's Bulls legacy was cemented (and his baseball legacy little to speak of), it wasn't until a decade later that we'd see a new batch of player exclusive Air Jordan IXs made for Team Jordan athletes like Eddie Jones, Quentin Richardson, Darius Miles and others.
Others like an 18 year-old from Ohio already nicknamed King James, who was still in high school.
After leading his Saint Vincent Saint Mary's team to a 23-1 record and all the way to the state finals game, LeBron James and teammates took the floor at Ohio State's Value City Arena for a championship matchup against Kettering Alter. The stadium was filled with a record 18,454 announced attendance.
While he was already used to custom sneakers from Nike, Reebok and adidas, it would be the first time LeBron would lace up a custom Air Jordan.
Featuring a white upper, gleaming green patent leather rand and gold accents, James wore the SVSM IX PEs during his 25 point, 11 rebound performance that carried the SVSM Fighting Irish once again to an Ohio state title. The 40-36 win over Kettering Alter would be their third state title in LeBron's four seasons there.