words & images // Nick DePaula
Owning any pair of Air Jordan XIs is a pretty cool feeling, no matter how many times they are retroed and re-done in the same handful of colors. It's by most everyone's count the very best shoe ever created.
Not only was Tinker Hatfield's design entirely groundbreaking on its own, but Mike rocked them for the very best NBA season ever too, when the Bulls paced through a 72-10 regular season record.
With all of that in mind, and a commemorative moment of our own to celebrate this past week at Sole Collector Magazine's 10th Anniversary party in Portland, this special gift from Tinker Hatfield himself was all the more touching and impactful.
While not a custom colorway, the classic Bulls edition is hand-drawn by Tinker himself with detailed Jordan icons and artwork about Sole Collector founder Steve Mullholand, with a special thank you note also inscribed along the collar.
View Tinker's full speech to Steve and the Sole Collector team, along with detailed images of the custom Air Jordan XIs given to the magazine's founder, and check out Steve's reaction to receiving the pair below.
"The first thing I saw was the lateral side of the left shoe with the artwork. I immediately saw the '23' in the middle and then just started looking up the heel of the shoe in awe of all the intricate artwork. The artwork just looked like it should be there - it looked a true piece of art. And this was before Tinker even took that shoe out of the box…. I mean I was just focused on them like a moth to a light!
The second he handed me the shoe, I started to look at the bigger icons. I flipped the shoe around and was super happy to see the artwork connected on the medial side too. And to my shock - there was my sailboat on the shoe. And it wasn't just any old sailboat - it wasn't the type of sailboat - it was MY EXACT boat! Tinker took the time to do it right and somehow looked that up…. so damn cool.
I really like the different tones that he used and the detail is just ridiculous. I am going to go through the entire shoe tonight with a glass full of Glenlivet 21. I just got back home and haven't been able to go through the shoe since the night I saw it at the event. I can't wait to dive into all the details that Tinker created…there are so many and it is very personal to me. He even has my face on there. I really couldn't have asked for a nicer, more thought out gift than what Tinker gave to me. Tinker is a hell of a nice guy that everyone at the magazine has had a great time getting to know, and I'm lucky to call him my friend."