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In January 1988, the White/Cement Grey and Black/Cement Grey colorways came out. A month later, Michael wore his white and grey Jordans and flew from the free-throw line. He scored a perfect 50 and won the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest.
After lackluster performances during his first two All-Star appearances, Michael stole the show and proved he deserved the most votes in the 1988 All-Star game. He dropped 40 points and won his first All-Star MVP while wearing his black and grey Jordans.
Aleali May. This colorway features a mix of black, shadow grey, and white.
All-Star. The ‘All-Star’ colorway traditionally features a combination of wolf grey, metallic silver, and black.
Anthracite. These black and grey Jordans usually feature hints of red for contrast.
Atmosphere Grey. The ‘Atmosphere Grey’ colorway features a grey upper and a white midsole. A touch of black completes the color blocking.
Barons. These grey and white Jordans are inspired by Michael’s stint with the Birmingham Barons.
Batman. Part of the ‘Super Heroes’ pack, the ‘Batman’ edition features a combination of black, anthracite, and taxi.
Battle Grey. These all grey Jordan basketball shoes feature silver accents and an icy outsole.
Black Cement. These black and grey Air Jordan basketball shoes are typically highlighted with red.
Bobcats. Inspired by the Bobcats’ team colors, this colorway features a mix of cool grey, team orange, and white.
Bugs Bunny. The ‘Bugs Bunny’ colorway normally features a combination of neutral grey and white.
Cement. This colorway boasts a smoke grey upper with black and white speckles.
Chlorophyll. This colorway usually features a mix of light grey, chlorophyll, black, white, and sail.
Cool Grey. These all grey Jordans customarily come with a white midsole and translucent outsole.
Dark Smoke Grey. This colorway comes with a black-based upper with dark smoke grey, sail, and white all over.
Fear. The ‘Fear’ colorway features a combination of neutral grey, night stadium, total orange, and black.
Fine Print. This colorway is inspired by the original contract Michael signed with the Swoosh. The shoes feature a mix of wolf grey, white, and black.
Flint Grey. The ‘Flint Grey’ colorway usually comes in a combination of white, chrome, and flint grey.
Green Glow. This colorway usually features a grey-based upper with green glow detailing.
Grey Suede. The ‘Grey Suede’ colorway is known for its premium all-grey upper.
Hare. Similar to the ‘Bugs Bunny’ colorway, the ‘Hare’ colorway features a combination of grey and white with red accents.
KAWS Collaboration. Legendary artist KAWS and Jordan Brand teamed up to create a unique Air Jordan colorway. These cool grey Jordans feature tonal detailing and a glow-in-the-dark outsole.
London. Part of the ‘City Pack,’ the ‘London’ colorway features a somewhat monochromatic combination of dark grey, pure platinum, and black.
MVP. The ‘MVP’ colorway is a modern take on the classic ‘Black Cement.’ The shoes boast a combination of wolf grey, black, white, and university red.
Neutral Grey. This colorway features a black-based upper with grey overlays and crimson accents.
Oreo. The ‘Oreo’ colorway is typically done in grey, white, and black.
PSNY Collaboration. The Air Jordan X PSNY collab usually features a combination of dark grey and black.
Rio. Part of the ‘City Series,’ these wolf grey Jordans feature photo blue, obsidian, and green glow accents.
Shadow. A white midsole compliments these dark and grey Jordans.
Steel Grey. This colorway usually comes in a combination of light steel grey, white, and black. Varsity red accents complete the shoe’s look.
Tinker. Legendary Air Jordan designer Tinker Hatfield has a colorway named after him. The ‘Tinker’ colorway typically features a combination of neutral grey, white, black, and Infrared 23.
Trophy Room Collaboration. Michael’s son Marcus crafted an exclusive Air Jordan that boasts a cool grey upper with metallic gold accents. Only 4,500 pairs of these cool grey Jordans were made.
True Blue. These grey and blue Jordans are complimented with white and red trimming.
Union LA Collaboration. This collaboration is a combination of the ‘Neutral Grey’ and ‘Black Toe’ colorways. Blue stitching around the ankle collar fuses both colorways.
Vast Grey. This colorway features a white upper with vast grey overlays. A sail midsole completes the shoe’s tonal look.
White Cement. This colorway usually features a combination of white, black, cement grey, and fire red.
Wolf Grey. These grey Jordan basketball shoes often feature silver and black accents.
Wool. This winter-ready colorway boasts a wool upper done in dark grey.
The Shoe That Saved The Swoosh: Michael and His White and Grey Jordan Basketball Shoes
In 1987, Michael Jordan’s endorsement deal with Nike was up for renegotiation. However, re-signing the young star was not going to be a walk in the park since trouble was brewing in paradise.
After two successful years, Nike Marketing Vice President Rob Strasser wanted Air Jordan to become its own brand, but Nike Co-Founder Phil Knight thought it was too early.
Since they did not see eye to eye, Strasser handed in his resignation and established a consulting company named Sports Inc. Not soon after, he brought on board Air Jordan 1 & 2 designer Peter Moore. Both left within a week of each other; dealing a massive blow to the Swoosh.
To make matters worse, rumors were swirling that Michael Jordan was also dissatisfied with the direction of his signature line and was looking for a way out.
According to Michael’s former agent David Falk, Strasser and Moore were in the process of luring Michael away from Nike. The pitch was Michael could create his own empire and become the face of Van Grack—a shoe company Strasser was involved with.
“Michael’s dad loved the idea,” David said.
With all that was going on behind the scenes, production of Michael’s third signature sneaker almost ground to a halt.
Enter Tinker Hatfield.
“It was six months behind schedule by the time it was given to me,” Tinker recalled in the docu-series Abstract: The Art of Design. “So it had to be another hurry up, no sleep for weeks and months, traveling back and forth to Asia with all the developers and getting a prototype in.”
Since joining Nike in 1981 as an architect, Tinker switched to sneaker design four years later and completely revolutionized it. He crafted iconic models such as the Air Max 1 and Air Trainer 1 then turned signature sneaker design into a collaborative process with the athlete.
When Tinker joined the Swoosh, he was in charge of creating marketing materials. He designed showrooms, retail spaces, and offices. However, fate had other plans for the young architect.
In 1985, Tinker was asked by Strasser to join a company-wide sneaker design contest. The challenge: craft a performance shoe that is both fashionable and functional.
Tinker took the challenge to heart. He wasn’t interested in creating a purely utilitarian shoe, so he took his design to the next level.
“When I came in,” Tinker recalls, “I had stories to tell.”
Inspired by Paris’s Centre Georges Pompidou, Tinker stayed up all night and designed a low-profile midsole with a visible air unit. He paired the midsole with a brightly-colored upper, and he positioned the shoe next to a European motor scooter.
After seeing his sketch, some conservative minds at Nike thought that Tinker simply did not understand the company’s mission. However, Moore was wowed by his design and impressed by his moxie.
Tinker won the contest.
Nike soon realized that Tinker should be designing sneakers, so they immediately put him to work. Little did he know that after just two years of being a sneaker designer, he will already be facing the biggest challenge of his new career.
Because of his early success, the Swoosh placed Tinker in charge of a make-or-break project. A folder was given to him with a vague brief that says, “Just do something with it.”
Nike’s decision to hand over the troubled Air Jordan line to a fledging sneaker designer was a stroke of genius. Tinker genuinely wanted to give Michael an Air Jordan basketball sneaker that he would love to wear on the court. So, he asked him what he was looking for in his shoes.
“I don’t think Michael had ever been worked with that way,” Tinker explained to the Portland Tribune, “In fact, I don’t think anybody in the footwear business had done it that way.”
Unlike traditional high-tops, Michael wanted a comfortable mid-top basketball shoe that is also flashy and sophisticated.
“I jumped on a plane to visit Michael Jordan and get to know him,” Tinker recalls. “We talked. I realized that he had a good sense of style. He said he wanted a pair of basketball shoes that were comfortable and fresh right out of the box, that didn’t require breaking in.”
Another one of Michael’s requests became the most recognizable feature of the now-iconic basketball shoe—animal print.
With the deadline looming, Tinker and his team had to craft a prototype as quickly as they could. “No one slept for days,” he recalled.
Tinker had just finished work on the Air Revolution—the first Nike basketball shoes to feature a visible Air bag. So, he decided to use the Air Revolution’s midsole and paired it with a new mid-top silhouette.
For the upper, Tinker decided to use soft tumbled leather that features elephant print on the heel and toe. He also made small paintings to show Michael how his shoes would look on him.
The moment of truth came.
Tinker and Nike President Phil Knight flew to California where Michael was playing golf with Strasser and Moore. Michael’s parents were already at the conference room; however, the star was still out in the fairways and arrived four hours later.
Tinker suddenly felt the importance of what was about to happen. “This is the biggest presentation of my life,” he remembers.
Upon Michael’s arrival, it was clear that he was not happy to be there. Strasser and Moore just recently gave an incredible pitch about the brand they wanted to launch with Michael and were on the verge of signing the Bulls’ star.
“All right, show me what you got,” Michael grumbled.
Phil handed over the meeting to Tinker, who immediately asked Michael if he still remembered their conversation about what he was looking for in his sneakers. He then showed sketches to Michael, who started to warm up as they spoke. For the first time, someone had actually listened to what he wanted and needed.
Unbeknownst to Phil, Tinker had also brought a prototype of the new Air Jordan basketball shoes and was about to become Nike’s savior.
“I told him, ‘I hope you like what we came up with,’” Tinker said.
Tinker pulled the black cover off the sample, and Michael instantly loved it. It was precisely what he was looking for—the mid-top cut, soft full-grain leather, grey elephant print, and his very own logo on the tongue.
“It’s unlike any basketball shoe I’ve ever seen,” Tinker recalls after the reveal. “He grabbed it from me. In five minutes, he was smiling and asking all kinds of questions. Within 20 minutes, the meeting was over, and we had the Air Jordan III.”
Finally, Michael found someone who took his needs and ideas and brought them into life.
“Phil Knight thinks I helped save Nike that day,” Tinker once said. “I don’t know if it’s true or not, but that’s his perception.”
Michael ultimately stayed with the Swoosh. His Air Jordan brand eventually became too big and became a Nike subsidiary in 1997.
Design Inspirations of Michael’s Grey Jordan Basketball Shoes
When it comes to crafting Michael Jordan’s sneakers, Air Jordan designers get inspiration from just about anything. From Michael’s nicknames, interest, and performances on the court, Jordan Brand designers need to think out of the box and push the envelope to stay ahead of the game.
Designer: Tinker Hatfield
Inspiration: World War II P-51 Mustang Fighter Jet
Story: Tinker likened Michael’s game to how fighter plane strikes. According to Tinker, Michael floats around the edges of the game and comes out of nowhere to attack. The most recognizable design feature of these Air Jordans are the “teeth” found on the midsole.
Designer: Tinker Hatfield
Inspiration: North American X-15
Story: Michael is known for taking flight at speed; making him nearly impossible to guard. So, it makes sense that one of his signature basketball sneakers is inspired by one of the fastest aircraft ever built—the X-15. The X-15 was a hypersonic rocket-powered aircraft that set speed and altitude records back in the ‘60s.
Designer: D’Wayne Edwards
Inspiration: Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor Jet
Story: Designer D’Wayne Edwards likens Michael’s on-court prowess to that of an F-22 Raptor Jet—equally threatening offensively and defensively. The F-22’s speed and stealth also mirror how his Airness attacks the basket. These Jordan basketball shoes boast rear air vents and a zig-zag design that reflects the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor Jet.
Designer: Tinker Hatfield
Inspiration: Porsche 911
Story: It is no secret that Michael loves luxury cars, so Tinker doesn’t need to look too far for inspiration and just check out Michael’s garage. His Porsche 911 inspires one of his Air Jordans. The shoe’s heel tab is fashioned after the 911’s rear spoiler; making His Airness look fast on the floor as he drives to the basket.
Designer: Tinker Hatfield
Inspiration: Ferrari F355 and 550M
Story: Michael captured his sixth-and-final NBA Championship while wearing a car-inspired basketball sneaker. These Michael Jordan basketball shoes boast a Ferrari-like badge, air intakes, and metal tips that provide a high-performance feel.
Designer: Wilson Smith
Inspiration: Aston Martin
Story: Michael does not only have Porsches and Ferraris in his luxury car collection. He also owns Aston Martins. According to Wilson Smith, one of Michael’s sneakers are inspired by “the fine details from an Aston Martin, the smooth lines and flow of a jazz solo and the long Air Jordan history of innovations in style.”
Designer: Mark Smith and Tinker Hatfield
Inspiration: Cycling Shoes and Motorcycle Tires
Story: Twenty years is a long time for any signature line, so one would think that designers would eventually run out of ideas. However, great designers can find inspiration from the most unlikely of places. Inspired by cycling shoes and motorcycle tires, Smith and Tinker were able to craft one of the lightest and most innovative Air Jordans. “Welcome to the future,” was the slogan of these Air Jordan basketball shoes.
Designer: D’Wayne Edwards
Inspiration: Bentley Continental GT Coupe
Story: What else does Michael have in his garage? A Bentley Continental GT Coupe of course! When tasked to craft one of Michael’s signature shoes, designer D’Wayne Edwards was inspired by the ultra-luxury coupe. The Air Jordans he came up with feature clean lines and are made of high-quality materials. A Bentley-inspired grille completes the shoe’s rather simple aesthetic.
Designer: Tinker Hatfield
Inspiration: Black Cat/Black Panther
Story: While watching Michael in one of his games, Tinker noticed that the greatest player of all time displayed predatory behavior. He is smart, powerful, and intuitive—attacking at the right time. “He connected with the idea, instantly,” Tinker recalls. “It meant something to him.” These Air Jordan basketball shoes fully capture Michael’s “Black Cat” persona. It features holographic cat eyes while the outsole looks like a panther’s paw. “This shoe, I think, wasn’t like anything before it. It was really quite a departure. Sometimes, shoes are more evolutionary. They’re a little bit like the previous one. This one wasn’t like anything before it,” Tinker said. “Of course, that makes the salespeople nervous and the marketing people nervous, but Michael wasn’t nervous at all. He felt like this design, even though it was really different, was going to be successful for him as a player, but also in the marketplace. Of course, it was, and here we are reissuing it again. So it’s proven itself.”
How do I match my grey Air Jordan basketball shoes with different colored pants?
Grey is a neutral and balanced color so matching it with colored pants is a breeze. Below is just a simple guide on how to coordinate grey Jordan basketball shoes with different pants.
Blue - Blue pants and grey shoes are an unusual combination but look quite smart.
Navy Blue - Navy blue pants and grey shoes are a gorgeous combination since the neutral grey allows the navy blue to be the blue it wants to be.
Jeans - Dark slim denim jeans plus grey basketball shoes are a no-brainer.
Light Grey - Grey on grey is an exciting look. Just make sure that one of the greys is darker.
White - Appropriate for those living near the tropics, white pants should be matched with light grey sneakers.
Black - A casual look that has a fashion-forward feel.
Red - A unique look if you can pull it off. Grey canvas shoes are a perfect match for red cotton pants.
Olive - From a color perspective, grey and olive are a great match.
Beige - Grey and beige is a casual pairing that works best for after-work and weekend outfits.
Tan - Like olive, grey and tan is an excellent combination from a color perspective.
Brown - Exercise caution with this pairing and make sure you do not wear this combination for a work meeting.