Air Jordan 16
Air Jordan 16 History
Michael Jordan began the new millennium by leaning further into his role as a businessman. With CEO of the Jordan Brand already on his resume, Jordan became part-owner and President of Basketball Operations for the Washington Wizards in January 2000.
With Jordan no longer playing basketball, simply attaching a Jumpman logo to a new design wasn't going to be enough to keep the Air Jordan line on its successful run. It had to continue to be innovative and buzzworthy. And with Tinker Hatfield's announcement that he was taking a break from designing Air Jordans (after over a decade), the Jordan Brand now needed to find a new designer. Wilson Smith III stepped in as lead designer for the Jordan Brand, with big shoes to fill to make the Air Jordan 16 a standout.
Smith's idea was to create a shoe that symbolized Michael Jordan's new life as a businessman on the outside, while still representing the game that made him who he was underneath. The Air Jordan 16 featured a uniquely designed removable shroud, a first for the line. Inspired by a marching band boot, the shroud gave the shoe a clean and streamlined look, fit for the office. However, when the shroud was removed, the result was a classic basketball shoe with plenty of Air Jordan heritage.
In homage to prior Air Jordan models, the design incorporated a patent leather toe box reminiscent of the AJ 11s, translucent outsoles like the AJ 5s, 6s, and 11s and a more traditional Air Jordan shape—something the Air Jordan 15 didn't have.
Back to Baller
On September 25, 2001, Michael Jordan announced he was stepping down as President of Basketball Operations and relinquishing his stake as a part-owner in the Wizards to lace up his Air Jordans and get back in the game.
The man who retired from basketball twice was back on the court again as a Washington Wizard. Michael Jordan wore the Air Jordan 16 Ginger model during the pre-season before switching to the AJ 17s in 2002, so the AJ 16 got to see some on-court time.
Air Jordan 16: Original Colors and Composition
Despite MJ 's retirement from the Chicago Bulls, the Jordan Brand kept the black and red color scheme that had defined the Air Jordan line.
The first AJ 16 released in a Black/Varsity Red colorway in February 2001.
A White/Midnight Navy colorway followed.
The next two AJ 16s mixed things up, trading the typical patent leather and leather combination on the first releases with Nubuck on the Ginger colorway and a combination of suede and leather on the Cherrywood version.
Two more versions of the AJ 16—White/Varsity Red and Black/Metallic Silver—were released in a low-top design, but they were missing the signature shroud collectors wanted.
Note: Nubuck leather and suede both require extra care when cleaning. Use a suede brush to gently remove dirt and surface stains.
Collectability of the Air Jordan 16: How Retros Crushed the Release
Although Michael Jordan laced up Air Jordan 16s as a Wizard, his 2001-2002 season had little impact on the 16 because it got overshadowed by a slew of retro releases that played nicely into MJ's return to the court.
By the end of 2001, many of the greatest Air Jordans were retroed in the now-iconic Jordan Face Box. The stacked list of original colorways released from 2000-2001 included favorites like the AJ 1 in Bred and Royal, AJ 3 in Black Cement and True Blue, AJ 5 in Fire Red, AJ 6 in Infrared and AJ 11 in Bred, Concord and Columbia.
Around that same time, the Jordan Brand released a handful of new colorways, including the AJ 1 in Metallic Silver and Midnight Navy, AJ 3 in Mocha and AJ 11 in a revival of the Space Jam colorway initially seen in the 1996 film.
Basketball fans and sneaker collectors favored retro releases over Air Jordan 16 for nostalgic reasons—feeling connected to MJ's career or reminiscing about the original versions they owned.
More Air Jordan 16 Retro Releases
In 2008, the first Air Jordan 16 retro came out as part of the 7/16 Countdown Pack. The Bred colorway, bundled with the AJ 7 in Hare, was considered one of the best pairings in the Countdown collection.
The Air Jordan 16 disappeared until the Jordan Brand teamed up with Marcus Jordan's Trophy Room for a French Blue pair in 2016. That same year, they re-released the Midnight Navy colorway, and the Miami-based sneaker boutique SoleFly released an Art Deco-themed colorway limited to 1,500 pairs for Art Basel, an annual international art fair.
In 2017, the Air Jordan 16 released the CEO, a Charlotte Hornets colorway celebrating Michael Jordan becoming CEO and majority owner of the franchise. Since the silhouette first released when MJ was transitioning to a businessman, the CEO theme was a fitting choice.
Between the six original colorways and the retro versions, the most valuable AJ 16s are the Trophy Room, SoleFly and CEO models that typically sell for around $400 each. Most other variations of the Air Jordan 16 can be found at or below the $200 range.