Roughly one month after the Bulls won their third consecutive NBA Title, Michael Jordan’s father James was murdered on July 23, 1993. Devastated by the loss of his father, Jordan said he had lost his desire to play basketball. On October 6, 1993, Michael Jordan stunned the sports world and announced his retirement from the NBA. Then on Feb 7, 1994, perhaps the most stunning announcement of all came. Jordan had signed a Minor League baseball contract with the Chicago White Sox. His father had ever dreamed of his son playing professional baseball and he wanted to pursue that dream.
Again designed by Tinker Hatfield with the help of Mark Smith, the Air Jordan 9 pushed the boundaries more with design. Featuring an inner bootie, a sleeker upper compared to the Jordan 8 with molded lace loops, and different inscriptions and foreign languages featured on the sole which Smith described as telling an “International Story.” A total of six different languages appear on the sole of the shoe. With the aid of graphics and the foreign languages the sole, the shoes told the story of how basketball became an international game.
The Air Jordan 9 would be the first Air Jordan that Mike didn’t wear in an NBA game, but that didn’t prevent XVI from seeing them on his feet. Jordan would wear the AJ9 in cleat form throughout the season, but we would eventually catch them on the hardwood that NBA season. While they may be the first shoe he didn’t wear on an NBA floor, they’re also the first Air Jordans to be given to individual players in PE (Player Edition) form. Latrell Sprewell, Mitch Richmond, BJ Armstrong, Anfernee Hardaway, Kendall Gill, and Harold ‘Baby Jordan’ Miner received the Air Jordan IX with their personal numbers in place of the signature ’23’ on the heel.