Twenty Years of Jordans: Introducing the Air Jordan 20

Air Jordan 20

2005 was a big year for Jordan Brand: the twentieth anniversary of the Air Jordan. After two decades of pioneering technical and style innovations that had pushed the sneaker industry forward, it was time for the brand to look back on what it had accomplished. To do that without getting lost in nostalgia, Jordan called on Tinker Hatfield, the designer behind most of the Jordans worn on the court by MJ himself, to create something that would honor the legacies of both Jordan the player and Jordan the brand. Hatfield delivered. The Air Jordan 20 is a wearable retrospective of Michael Jordan’s life and career that also introduced several new features that would forever be associated with the Jordan line.

AJ 20 Design and Retrospective

Like much of Hatfield’s best work (including the “Black Cat” design of the 13s), the devil is in the details. In order to create a shoe that could summarize the life and career of the greatest basketball player of all time, Hatfield and his team filled the 20s with visual texture that carries hidden meaning. They reward any Michael Jordan enthusiast’s close inspection. For instance:

  • On the back of the left heel are the numbers 85 and 05 – marking the release year of the first Air Jordans as well as marking the 20th anniversary
  • Six contrasting color “rings” on the heel commemorate the six championship titles that Jordan won
  • The dimples along the side of the sneaker number 69 – the number of points that MJ racked up in the highest-scoring game of his career
Air Jordan 20 Laser white/Metallic Silver

In addition, the uppers are adorned with over 200 graphic icons that highlight moments not only from Jordan’s career but from his life outside of basketball, including a 1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo that commemorates Jordan’s mother and a toolbox reading “POPS” in honor of his dad. The twenty “pods” (described below) each feature a different inscribed graphic representing one of the 20 models of Air Jordans.

Air Jordan 20

AJ 20 Colorways, Retros and Collectability

Like the 19s before them, the 20s dropped with a few wide-release colors and a “Regional Pack” of three colorways that were available only in their respective regions. Additionally, the original release included one low-top version and one ¾ height version. The OG colorways were:

Quickstrike/Black – Varsity Red

Air Jordan 20 Quickstrike/Black – Varsity Red

East Coast Chutney / White – Black

Air Jordan 20 East Coast Chutney / White – Black

West Coast University Blue / White – Black

Air Jordan 20 West Coast University Blue / White – Black

Low White / Midnight Navy – Neutral Grey

Air Jordan 20 Low White / Midnight Navy – Neutral Grey

3/4 White / Metallic Silver / Deep Garnet

Air Jordan 20 3/4 White / Metallic Silver / Deep Garnet

After the original release, the Air Jordan 20 was re-issued as part of 2008’s “Countdown Pack,” in a black/electric green release called “Living Greatness” in 2013’s “28 Days of Flight” countdown and as a standard Retro release in 2015. The 2015 Retro dropped in several colorways:

  • White/White – Metallic Silver
  • Black/White – Cool Grey
  • Black/Stealth – Varsity Red

Both original generation and retro Air Jordan 20s have generally maintained or slightly increased their value since release. As expected, special releases like the Countdown Pack or 28 Days of Flight edition command higher prices than standard releases.

You can maintain your sneakers’ condition and value by keeping them in a cool, dry place. For longer-term storage, take them out of the original box and paper and store them in a Ziploc bag with the air squeezed out. Remember to periodically air out sneakers (around once a month) by removing them from the Ziploc bag for a day or two.

Technology and Features of the Air Jordan 20

Of course, Air Jordan has always been a forward-thinking, innovation-focused brand, so a simple retrospective wasn’t enough. The Air Jordan 20s debuted a number of new technologies as well as a new silhouette, proving once again their status as the basketball shoe to have.

  • The Air Jordan 20 was the first shoe in the line to use the laser graphics that are now synonymous with the brand. The precise detail allowed by laser application enables the 200 commemorative icons to read clearly while being small enough to avoid dominating the shoe’s aesthetic
  • The new IPS (Independent Podular Suspension) system engineered by Nike created variable cushioning at key points underfoot. Each pod (10 on each foot) falls at an important point of contact with the floor and provides cushioning appropriate to the foot’s mechanics (softer under the heel, stiffer under the forefoot)
  • A floating ankle strap gave the 20 perhaps the most striking silhouette of any Jordan produced to date. The strap was functional, too: it provided the ankle support of a higher-top basketball with less weight and greater flexibility

Air Jordan 20 White/Silver

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