Who says you can?t come home? After carrying Chicago colors and the occasional All-Star iteration on the majority of his signatures, Michael Jordan returned to his college roots on the Air Jordan 9 ?Powder Blue?. The retirement era signature marked the first time the Heels hues graced an Air Jordan since a team take on the original back in ?85. It also coincided with UNC?s move from Converse to Nike.
Following the school?s first title since MJ hit his first big shot, a re-tooled Carolina lineup received a wardrobe just the same. Nike branded uniforms and sneakers outfitted the likes of Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace, and Jeff McInnis, shaping the style and star power we now associate with the Tar Heels. To promote sales for the footwear and the gear, Nike placed its most distinguished alumni back in the powder blue, seeing the retired star sporting argyle for the first time.
Whether or not the ads were meant to promote Tar Heel gear or pride, continue the Jordan legacy or merely celebrate the moment, the shoes did all the above and set a trend. Since the ?Powder Blue? 9s, the Carolina colorway has popped up on Air Jordan signatures original and retro. School styling has spread to many other famous signature lines, with an array of NBA stars paying tribute to their amateur era. 20 years later, the Jumpman branding has replaced the Swoosh on North Carolina uniforms and the current cast of Tar Heels gets laced with retros, team exclusives, and more.