Words: Drew Hammell

Let’s go back to November 1, 1991 at Chicago Stadium. It was a chilly night, yet the Madhouse on Madison was electric with hometown fans celebrating their first-ever championship, secured five months earlier. That win felt like the passing of the torch, from the ‘80s teams to a possible new Chicago dynasty. The ring ceremony took place right before the first game of the ‘91-’92 regular season, and Michael Jordan was all smiles as the announcer called his name. The weight had been collectively lifted off of his shoulders and the entire Windy City.

Following his teammate’s speech, MJ took the mic: “It brings me great joy to say that we are the world champions,” he said. With those words, the crowd went into a frenzy. As the championship banner was raised into the rafters, the roar was deafening. They knew their team was capable of winning multiple championships, and they were hungry for more.

On opening night, and for the first half of the ‘91-’92 season, MJ wore a sharp new colorway of the Air Jordan VI, a sneaker we now affectionately refer to as the “Carmine.” Inspired by MJ’s love of German sports cars, the Air Jordan VI had a rubberized black tongue and a rear “spoiler” heel tab. The clear, translucent sole and visible Nike Air unit helped the shoe stand out from every other sneaker on the basketball court. He famously won that first-ever championship in the Black/Infrared colorway.

The “Carmine” colorway took the attitude of the Air Jordan VI to a new level with its dark crimson red panels. Of the five OG colorways, including the Black/Infrared and White/Infrared versions that MJ wore during his first championship run, the “Carmine” is the most flamboyant. MJ also moved the classic lace lock from the top of the shoe down to the bottom.

After the ring ceremony, Chicago defeated Philadelphia, earning their first win of the new season. At just 28 years old, MJ was averaging 29.5 points per game as Chicago raced off to an 18-3 record. He led the league in scoring for the sixth consecutive season, with 30.1 points per game, won his third MVP award, again made the All-Star and All-Defensive teams and earned a spot on the famed 1992 Olympic Dream Team.

On the court, MJ took his game to a new level, and he made it look easy. While fine-tuning his repertoire of skills, it became clear that he was far from his peak. “I don’t do much shooting in the summer anymore, so I don’t completely understand it myself, but it’s a fact,” said MJ in a 1991 magazine interview. “Everything about it — my mechanics, when to take the shot and the release — feels better and smoother.”

There was no hangover from the previous season for that team. If anything, they looked more focused than ever. They dominated all season long. With a target on their backs, they faced daunting challenges from every team. “It has driven me more, because all of the distractions have been just that, distractions,” said MJ. “But the cure for that has always been basketball for me. That’s my medicine.”

The Air Jordan VI “Carmine” dropped when MJ was well on his way to becoming the most influential athlete of all time. Whether it was the shaved head, the baggy shorts, the tongue wag or of course, the shoes, we all wanted to be like Mike.

Having previously dropped in 2008 and 2014, the Air Jordan VI “Carmine” returns with the OG specs, including Nike Air branding, the OG sockliner and the classic lace toggles. Marking the 30th anniversary of the Air Jordan VI, this drop celebrates a pivotal chapter in MJ’s career and the history of Jordan Brand.

The Air Jordan VI “Carmine” releases starting February 13, 2021 from SNKRS and select retailers.

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