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Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player in NBA history. He also has a famous shoe brand worth a lot of money.

Jordan wore his signature Air Jordans during his playing career and influenced generations of fans and athletes who still walk around in iterations of his footwear. Surprisingly, he did not wear his signature shoes one time during his playing career. The NBA legend had to borrow from another player.

The creation of the Air Jordan sneaker

Before the world could buy Air Jordan sneakers, Michael Jordan wore Air Jordan sneakers made exclusively for himself, as Hibbett reports. Peter Moore, Tinker Hatfield, and Bruce Kilgore designed the footwear for Nike. During his rookie season, Jordan could sport the new shoes, which no one had seen before. The Air Jordan I was the first shoe in his collection.

The shoe featured a red and black colorway and ended up outlawed by NBA Commissioner David Stern because they did not have enough white in the design. There was a rule in the NBA where shoes had to include a certain percentage of white. After the league banned the shoes, Jordan and Nike released the Jordan I in colorways with more white.

After that shoe was created, more and more Air Jordans came out. Nike expected to sell $3 million of Air Jordans in four years. In the first year alone, however, they sold $126 million. That tells you how much people wanted to wear his shoes.

During the late ’80s and mid-’90s, not only was Jordan a top player in the league, but he also had the top shoe. Actors, rappers, and other pro athletes wanted a pair. With his footwear, Jordan changed the game.

Now, the Hall of Famer’s shoes have been released in hundreds of colorways with high, low, and mid-top versions. No other professional athlete can top what Michael Jordan did with his shoes.

The only time Michael Jordan wore a shoe other than his

During the 1995 Eastern Conference semifinals, the Chicago Bulls took on the Orlando Magic. In Game 3, Jordan did not wear his shoes. Instead, he wore Penny Hardaway’s Nike Air Flight Ones — the first and only time Jordan donned another player’s shoes.

So why did he wear them? When Hardaway first came into the league, Jordan admired his game. In an article from The Undefeated, Hardaway discussed how Jordan saw him as the next star in the NBA.

Hardaway was signed to Nike as a rookie. He wanted to see if the brand could make him a custom pair of the Air Jordan 9s. Jordan agreed to have it done, making Hardaway one of the first players outside of Jordan to wear player-exclusive Air Jordans.

When the Bulls were playing the Magic in the 1995 NBA Playoffs, Jordan was fined $5,000 for donning shoes that were too white. Jordan had to find another pair to wear. Instead of sporting one of his other shoes, he wore Hardaway’s Nike Air Flight Ones.  

Penny Hardaway is in a class of his own

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No other NBA player can say Michael Jordan wore their shoe except for Hardaway. Jordan did not have to put on Hardaway’s shoes, but he did it out of respect. They had a good relationship.

In Game 3 of the 1995 Eastern Conference semifinals, Jordan went to work wearing Hardaway’s shoes. He scored a series-high 40 points. But the Orlando Magic won the game and went on to win the series and advance to the NBA Finals.

But Hardaway will never forget the time when Jordan wore his shoes. “We all know that Michael Jordan is one of the fiercest competitors ever. He’s not gonna wear just anybody’s shoe; he wouldn’t do that for a lot of people,” Hardaway said. “For him to do that for me, it was the ultimate level of respect.”