Playing With Fire
How the legend of the Air Jordan V started and evolved.
Words: Ian Stonebrook
February 10, 1990 was a warm day in Miami, even by South Florida standards. Leave it to MJ to turn up the temperature as Miami hosted the NBA All-Star Game. Continuing the annual ASW debut theme, the Windy City shooting guard introduced the world to the Air Jordan V right outside of Biscayne Bay.
Zigging while the league zagged, MJ surprised all by opting out of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest for the league’s Three-Point Shootout. The star known for his play above the rim would move behind the arc with the Air Jordan V “Fire Red” on his feet. Seen by fans for the first time ever, MJ adorers would put their noses up to box TVs around the globe to get a glimpse of the new Air Jordans, denoted by a reflective tongue.
That month, those same fans would have a chance to take home MJ’s new game shoes, packaged in a black box with a bold, red Jumpman and iconic cement print. A metallic tongue, flamed detailing and icy outsoles made these just like the kicks MJ wore that weekend in Miami (though his personal pair had an embroidered #23 on the heel), and later in Cleveland, on March 28, 1990, when he set a career-high in scoring.
On that March day in Cleveland, MJ did something he’d never done before and would never do again: he dropped 69 points in one game. Wreaking havoc on a familiar foe, his team got the win on the shoulders of his hot shooting and impressive 18 rebounds.
MJ wearing the Air Jordan V “Fire Red” days before his career-high game in Cleveland
He did it all in the Air Jordan V “Fire Red.” Seen for the first time on his feet only six weeks prior, it wouldn’t take long for the shoe’s legend to grow as he ripped through Cleveland.
Celebrating three decades since MJ dropped 69, the Air Jordan V “Fire Red” is fittingly releasing for the fifth time. True to the original, Nike Air branding returns on the heel for the first time in two decades.
Is it the shoes? Of course it is, but it’s also more than that. Sticking to the script, no corners were cut when boxing these up, with packaging details just like the pair from 1990. Lift up the black lid with the red Jumpman, and you’ll find the same film paper protection you’d only get in a time capsule.
The Air Jordan 5 Fire Red continues its hot streak on May 2, 2020. It releases on Jordan.com, SNKRS and at select retailers.