After three years on the shelf and a storybook (game-winning) ending, Michael Jordan finally ended speculation via a press conference on September 25, 2001. The then 38-year old returned for the love of the game and would donate his entire $1 million first-year salary to victims of the 9/11 attacks. Michael gave up his role as President of Operations and sold his 10% ownership of the Wizards to return to the court, joining a team of young players he drafted like Richard Hamilton and Kwame Brown.
Although Mike rocked the AJ16 in the preseason, he started the year officially in the Air Jordan 17. Wilson Smith III returned for his second Jordan design, taking inspirations from MJ’s love of golf on the outsole, his Aston Martin car in the chrome heel clip, as well as jazz music from the musical notes on the lace cover to the instrumental metal briefcase that Jazzmen like Jordan brand musician Mike Phillips. The Air Jordan 17 also paired Zoom Air in the forefoot with the new Tuned Air unit in the heel to provide different support in different areas of the heel.
Notable games of Michael wearing the AJ17 include the All-Star game when he rocked the low-top “Lightning” colorway. Years later in 2018, that colorway was reimagined in high-top form in collaboration with retailer SoleFly and was worn by each member of the rap trio Migos.