On this day in sneaker history exactly 15 years ago, Jordan Brand released the “French Blue” Air Jordan 12 for the very first time.
A retro colorway, this non-OG take on the Air Jordan 12 was met with a warm response at retail and an even warmer embrace on the NBA and NCAA hardwood.
Packing Zoom Air cushioning and a carbon fiber plate, the always durable Air Jordan 12 still proved capable on the court eight years after its introduction.
Jordan Brand athletes like Rip Hamilton of the Detroit Pistons, Quentin Richardson of the Los Angeles Clippers, Gary Payton of the Los Angeles Lakers, and Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets were known to lace up the “French Blue” 12s with regularity.
Of most historic note, Carmelo Anthony wore the Air Jordan 12 “French Blue” in his first professional matchup with LeBron James on December 2, 2003 – over a month before the shoe hit stores.
What is not remembered by many is that the original sample showcased a two-tone sole that was later scrapped on the retail rendition.
As noted, Melo and Q Rich were well known to rock the “French Blue” 12s as was Michael Jordan’s former Wizards teammate Richard Hamilton. However, it was Rip’s Philly-brethren and former AAU teammate Kobe Bryant who may be best known for rocking this retro.
Jelly Bean Jr. was a sneaker free agent for the 2002-03 season, wearing any and every brand not named adidas but being courted extremely hard by Jordan Brand. JB laced Kobe Bryant with PE pairs of the 3s, 7s, and 8s in Hollywood hues, with time-tested OG colorways like the “Concord” 11s also appearing on his feet.
By the summer of 2003, Kobe was officially a Nike athlete. The Swoosh signed Kobe to a $40 Million deal that established a relationship that’s still intact today.
While Bryant would eventually be the face and feet of the relaunched Huarache series and his own namesake line, Kobe chose a December date with the Warriors in 2003 to lace up the “French Blue” 12s weeks before their retail release as a solid match to the team’s throwback unis.
On April 2, 2016 the “French Blue” 12s released again for the first time. Like the original launch, the shoe had court cache as John Wall – also a sneaker free agent at that time – laced them up in games with college kids also taking them to the tournament.
The Air Jordan 12 “French Blue” — a modern classic that released at retail for the first time ever 15 years ago today.