With the NBA set to complete the 2019-20 season from the bubble, many fans might prefer to wax nostalgic for “the good ol’ days.” For many sneakerheads, that evokes one word: Jordan. With that in mind, Nike and Jordan Brand are releasing yet another retro from His Airness’ signature line. The Air Jordan 12 “Stone Blue” drops summer 2020, over twenty years after their initial run. The Jordan 12 was the shoe on the court for championship number five in the Bulls’ dynastic reign, and the “Stone Blue” is the latest in a long line of fitting tributes.

The canvas of the Jordan 12 is inspired by the national flag of Japan, notable for its striking contrast of red and white. The “Stone Blue” 12 takes the tonal variance and matches several hues of indigo against the cleanest, brightest white Nike can offer. One prominent feature of the J12s is the stitching across the sides of the uppers, meant to resemble the rays of the sun as displayed on the Japanese naval flag. Here these ray-like streaks reflect the metallic sheen of the leather in a deeply cool tone. The indigo-dyed leather is where the shoe’s other nickname originates; it is one of the oldest dyes used in textiles in recorded history. The remaining leather on the shoe’s mid-area is vivid, almost beaming white. The view from the front of the shoe gives a perfect yin-yang-like division of indigo and snowy blankness. To look at this shoe is to love this shoe.

The blues continue in lighter shades as highlights on the overall shoe body, most notably the interior, heel and tag, and of course, the undersole. The top of the tongue is emblazoned with the Jumpman logo in Nike ‘legend blue,’ a lighter hue, but vivid nonetheless. The laces appear to be more of a Carolina blue, and silver matte lace hoops add a sparkle. The shoe’s heel is a sight to behold, bringing every color of the sneaker together in harmony. The stitching is exquisite, both bold and minutely detailed, it reads: “Quality Inspired By The Greatest Player Ever.” The larger script simply reads, “JORDAN,” as if there was any other ‘greatest player ever.’ One of the most daring features on the heel is the embossed ‘23,’ a simple but effective accent for the visually stunning rear. However, the undersole may be the most spectacular element for the eyes, crisscrossing and zig-zagging obsidian blue and white abounding. Looming largely at the bottom of the shoe’s toe is another grand vision of the ‘Jumpman,’ again in the lighter ‘legend blue,’ peeking over onto the toe’s front side. Top to bottom, this is a stunning rendition of one of the most beloved entries in the franchise.

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The Jordan 12 is as iconic as any of the classics in the line, but they were a serious stand-out in 1996. Even MJ’s sidekick Scottie Pippen got in on the action, sliding into a custom pair of 12s that boasted his ‘33’ and his last name on the heel. If the shoes make the athlete, Scottie knew his feet were failing with his own pre-Air Pippen kicks. The 1996-97 NBA season was another scorcher, although not record-breaking for the Chicago Bulls. The reigning champs fell just shy of their previous year’s regular-season record of 72-10, but the devilish duo of MJ and Pip took their 12s all the way to a second-straight ring. To the credit of the Utah Jazz, at least Karl Malone got the season’s MVP trophy as a consolation prize. Meanwhile, Mike and Scottie have a couple pairs of Jordans they need to dip in gold.

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Since they first arrived in the mid-nineties, the Jordan 12 has been a sought-after specimen. The original colorway run featured some of the line’s timeless gems, including the Taxi black-and-white, the iconic Bred, and Obsidian Blue, not a far stretch from the “Stone Blue” retro. In a time where retros were rare and dropped chronologically, 2003 saw the grand re-release of the Jordan 12. While most heads turned to the reissued “Bred,” the sleeper hit was the “Nubuck” edition, black-based with highlights of University blue. Years passed and the dirty dozen was given a new paint job time and again. In 2004, a rookie called Carmelo joined the Jordan Brand of fine basketball shoes, and to celebrate the illustrious union, the fans got the ‘Melo’ J-12s, a bright white canvas with that same University blue popping out from the sole. Who can forget Thanksgiving 2009, waiting in line with hundreds of other sneaker-freaks anticipating the drop of the “Flu Game” black and red 12s. Throughout the years, the Jordan 12 has stood the test of time amongst a lineup filled with hits.

As with any spectacular pair of Nike or Jordan Brand kicks, sometimes you have to rely on pure luck to land something as special as the “Stone Blue” indigo Jordan 12s. If you wind up at the head of the line with a couple hundred bucks to spend, make sure to save some dough for the care and upkeep of your new investment. Drop us a line and pick up some Sneaker Shields and keep your new J’s crease-free.