By Drew Hammell
It may only be February, but one of the most anticipated sneaker releases of 2018 is already here: the Air Jordan 3 Black Cement. The shoe is so popular, it has now released six times in 30 years (and no one is complaining). The BC3 has gone through some highs and lows over the years. Here’s a look back at the history of the Air Jordan 3 Black Cement, and how it became so renowned.
Photo Credit: @ijapino
1988: The Legend Begins
It all started at the 1988 NBA All-Star Game in Chicago. Michael Jordan laced up the black and cement grey AJ 3 for the first and only time on February 7th. In front if 18,403 fans, MJ dazzled the home crowd with 40 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 steals. Jordan would take home All-Star MVP honors for that game. During the 4th quarter, there were complementary Air Jordan 3 commercials featuring MJ and a young Spike Lee, aka Mars Blackmon, on TV as well. Between the stellar performance on the court, the commercials, and the fact that he wouldn’t rock the Black Cements again, an iconic shoe was born.
1994: The Return
After the initial release in ‘88, the Black Cement retro’d for the first time in 1994. Nike was in the midst of one of the greatest design runs in sneaker history, so the first retro release of the BC3 was not very hyped. Though the materials were still high quality, customers were more interested in fresh new Nike models. The grade school sizes were so undesirable, they would sit on sale racks for years. No kid wanted to be caught dead in a shoe from 1988, even if it was an Air Jordan model.
2001: Longing for the ‘80s
Beginning in 2000, Nike shoe designs started to get a little funky. That funkiness generated a longing for “the good old days” of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Nike brought back the Air Jordan 11 “Concord” in 2000, which was received very well in the sneaker community. This helped pave the way for a more successful retro of the BC3. There were two more colors that would come out for the first time as well – a white/mocha and white/blue colorway. Those two models would switch out the ‘Nike Air’ logo for the ‘Jumpman Air’ logo on the heel though – a sign of things to come for the BC3.
In 2008, Jordan Brand celebrated 23 years of the Air Jordan model by releasing “Countdown Packs,” or simply “CDP.” For example, the Air Jordan 1 was paired with the Air Jordan 22, the Air Jordan 2 with the 21, the 3 with the 20, etc. The Air Jordan 3 that came out with the AJ 20 was the Black Cement colorway, and was one of the most sought after models in all the packs. One major difference was the fact that the ‘Nike Air’ logo was replaced with the ‘Jumpman Air’ logo for the first time on the Black Cements. This would be somewhat accepted by sneakerheads in 2008, but would become controversial over time, since they weren’t considered truly “OG.”
2011: Getting Off Track
The Black Cements would come back just three years later in 2011, again with the ‘Jumpman Air’ logo on the heel. There were some other notable differences compared to previous models, including a much shinier leather upper. It didn’t help that the paint started to chip off the outsoles in just a few years’ time. Overall, they were not well received by the sneaker community.
2018: Back in Business
Thankfully, after seven years, the Black Cement 3 returns Saturday, February 17th – MJ’s 55th birthday. Much to the joy of sneakerheads everywhere, the original ‘Nike Air’ logo returns on the heel for the first time since 2001. The leather is also not as shiny as the 2011 model, which the OG heads will appreciate. Overall, it’s been a good 30 years for the Black Cement 3, especially since the GOAT himself only wore them once.
Photo Credit: Katie Bagwell
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