In 1987, Michael Jordan almost left Nike. His contract was nearing its expiration, and both Peter Moore (designer of the Jordan 1 and 2) and Rob Strasser (the man who signed Jordan to Nike) suddenly left the Swoosh, leading MJ to rightfully question the future of his line. Designer Tinker Hatfield explained in an interview with ESPN that even Nike founder Phil Knight was convinced that Jordan was leaving Nike. Then, Michael Jordan saw the Air Jordan 3.
The sophistication and style of the Jordan 3 won over Michael Jordan and eventually solidified his loyalty to the Swoosh (especially after receiving a tongue lashing from his father after a bout of unprofessionalism). It featured everything that he had been wanting in a sneaker and gave a preview of what the Jordan line could be in the future. Almost 35 years later, the Air Jordan 3 still shines as one of the most well-known silhouettes in the Jordan line.
As a revered classic, the Jordan 3 has a rich and complicated history that can be overwhelming to new buyers. Thankfully, to make an informed purchasing decision, you only need to know the basics. We put together a comprehensive buyer’s guide with all of the Jordan 3 information you need in your hunt for that next pair.
Here is everything you need to know about Jordan 3s.
When Did the Jordan 3 First Release?
The Air Jordan 3 was originally released in the spring of 1988 and introduced several firsts to the Jordan signature line. For starters, the Air Jordan 3 was the first shoe that Tinker Hatfield designed for Michael Jordan, jumpstarting his illustrious career with Jordan. Next, the Jordan 3 was the first Jordan to feature the now world-renowned Jumpman logo, replacing the Wings logo that graced the Jordan 1 and 2. The Jordan 3 was also the first in the Jordan line to feature a visible Air unit, a design attribute that would be prominent in all Jordans of the early 1990s.
Outside of its design, the Air Jordan III was the first shoe to be featured in Nike’s historic commercials that co-starred Spike Lee as Mars Blackmon, a fictional character from the 1986 film She’s Gotta Have It. In the commercials, Blackmon became known for his catchphrase, “It’s gotta be the shoes”, referring to MJ’s Jordan 3s being the source of his supernatural skills on the court. It also catapulted Spike himself – theretofore a largely unknown indie film director – to mainstream fame.
When Did Michael Jordan Wear the Jordan 3?
Although it wasn’t available in stores until 1988, Michael Jordan started wearing the Air Jordan 3 in NBA games as early as November of 1987. He primarily wore the Air Jordan 3 White Cement throughout the entire 1987-88 regular season and the Fire Red colorway in the 1988 NBA Playoffs and at the start of the 1988-89 season.
Key Colorway: Black Cement
Michael Jordan debuted the Air Jordan 3 Black Cement at the 1988 All-Star Game in Chicago. In the game, MJ put on a show for his home crowd. He dropped 40 points, defeated the Western Conference All-Stars, and took home his first-ever All-Star Game MVP. Jordan proved that he was the best of the best that night, all while rocking the Black Cements.
The 1988 All-Star Game would be the first and last time that Michael Jordan would wear the Black Cement on the court. While the colorway had a short life on the NBA stage, the Black Cement has been a street staple for over three decades.
The Black Cement has maintained its relevance because it is one of the most re-issued Jordan colorways in history. Since 1994, five retro Black Cement 3s have hit the shelves and are currently available on StockX.
Why Are Jordan 3s So Popular?
Jordan 3s are just as popular today as they were in the late 1980s for multiple reasons. First and foremost, Michael Jordan wore them, and ESPN’s The Last Dance docuseries introduced new generations of Jordan fans to the history that MJ made in the 3s. Secondly, the Jordan 3 seamlessly transitioned from performance to lifestyle sneaker. Its tumbled leather upper delivers a feeling of luxury that fits well in a multitude of settings. Additionally, Jordan 3s have been released every year for the last five years, so there is always a readily available option to purchase. Four new Jordan 3 colorways have already been released this year, and we still have another six months to go.
How Much Do Jordan 3s Cost?
At the retail level, Air Jordan 3s currently cost $190 for adult sizes and $140 for kids sizes. Being that Jordan 3s typically sell out in the retail environment, the true cost is often higher than the sticker price, and decided by Buyers and Sellers. In the last three months, Jordan 3s have sold at $286 on average, for a 55% premium. This value places them as one of the Top 5 most expensive Jordan silhouettes on StockX, showing that Jordan 3s are not only popular for casual wear, but a validated store of value.
In general terms, all Jordan 3s seem to be good investments. But, when you break down the resale performance of specific types of Jordan 3s, not all of them are valued equally.
How to Invest in Jordan 3s
The chart above shows average 90-day sales premiums for three types of Jordan 3s: OG colorways (original colorways that debuted on the shoe in 1988), collaborations, and other, non-original colorways. As you can see, Air Jordan 3s with OG colorways have slightly higher average sales premiums than Jordan 3 collaborations, a true feat considering that in the past year, Jordan has released popular collaborative Jordan 3 models with A Ma Maniére and fragment design.
The phenomenon of original colorways outperforming hyped collaborations is not common in the Jordan line. For the most popular Jordan model on StockX, the Air Jordan 1, collaborations typically reach sales premiums that are twice as much as the premiums of original colorways. This value discrepancy is even more apparent in Air Jordan 4s, where collab models sell for almost 3.5x as much as OG models. The Air Jordan 3 is an anomaly among Jordan Brand’s most collaborated silhouettes, proving that tradition reigns supreme over hype in some instances.
While return on investment is neck and neck between OG colorways and collabs, there is a huge drop-off when it comes to other, non-original Jordan 3 colorways. Newer colorways of the Jordan 3 only saw a mere 30% return on investment. Buying a pair of these types of Jordan 3s might land you in the green, but not by much. Investing in OG colorways and collabs is by far a wiser investment if your goal is to maximize your profits.
The Air Jordan 3 is timeless in its design. Originally created for Michael Jordan’s high-flying style of play, Jordan fans today have repositioned the model as one of the premier lifestyle sneakers in current culture. Frequent releases have made the Jordan 3 more accessible than ever before, allowing new generations to appreciate a model that is now older than most millennials.
When it comes to investing in Jordan 3s, our recent data suggests that purchasing OG colorways and collaborations is a proven way to maximize your profits. Other Jordan 3 colorways hold their value, but they do not nearly reach the same potential value as OGs and collabs.
Whether you are looking for an iconic Jordan to flex in, or a shoe that is a safe investment, the Air Jordan 3 is as versatile as it comes. It’s a shoe that encapsulates a rich history for Michael Jordan on and off the court, and gains value over time due to its high demand. We hope you put your newfound knowledge to the test so that you can shop with confidence for that next pair of Jordan 3s.