“I’m back.” On March 18, 1995, Michael Jordan’s agent David Falk faxed this memo out to the media, putting the NBA on notice. This was groundbreaking back in the day and would’ve broken the Internet if someone of Jordan’s stature Tweeted those two words today.
Michael was still playing AA baseball for the early part of the 1994-95 NBA season, although he did play in a charity game for Scottie Pippen on September 9, 1994 where he dropped 52 points in the Air Jordan 10. Sometime after this game, Jordan eventually told Tinker Hatfield to remove two strips of leather overlaying the toe cap, preferring a cleaner look on the toe. Original pairs of the first “Steel Grey” colorway with the toe cap still released however, becoming a collector’s item for sneakerheads around the world.
Much like the AJ9, the Air Jordan 10 was designed to be a celebration of Michael’s career. The lateral stripes on the outsole each memorialized each of his biggest achievements in his past NBA seasons and included winning the Dunk Contest in ’88 and being named to the All-NBA Defensive first team in ’89. The As far as the actual technology in the shoe, two advancements were made in the cushioning of the AJ10. The durable Polyurethane foam used in the 9 was replaced more the softer, lighter Phylon – a foam still used in sneakers today. Phylon also surrounded the upgraded full-length Air bag that provided more impact protection compared to the heel and forefoot setup from the 9.
All of these features combined to to assist a rusty Michael Jordan back in March, now donning the number 45 on his uniform to signify a new beginning. Mike had wore that number in the minors as well as his Laney high school days on the JV basketball team. Once he made the varsity team, he switched to half of 45 (rounded up to 23). This was an homage to his older brother Larry who was already rocking #45 on the varsity team.
That number was stitched on a PE of the white/black/red colorway of the AJ10, which later released in 2015 as the “Double Nickel” colorway to commemorate the big 55-point game MJ had against the Knicks in the shoes. The Jordan Brand happened to celebrate New York as well as other cities with NBA team colorways originally releasing in 1994. The 2016 “City Pack” further captured the essence of international cities like Paris and Brazil. Years later in 2018, the Jordan Brand released a black and white Air Jordan 10 simply dubbed the “I’m Back” colorway to match the black and white fax those iconic words were printed on.