During the ‘90s, the game of basketball experienced rapid globalization. Basketball fans around the world tuned in to watch the top talent in the game. Michael Jordan became the face of the basketball surge, rising to global super-stardom and inspiring a legion of fans — including Japanese manga artist, Takehiko Inoue.
In 1990, Inoue introduced the world to the fictional Hanamichi Sakuragi – the protagonist in his popular “Slam Dunk” manga series. Sakuragi began as an outcast at his high school with a reputation for causing trouble. After a girl rejected him, he tried out for the basketball team, where he showcased his natural athleticism and helped turn his previously unknown high school team into an all-star contender in Japan.
“I have been hugely inspired by Michael Jordan’s game, as well as his attitude. It’s been a great honor to have this opportunity,” said Inoue. “At first, he was someone from a different planet — he could stay in the air longer than anybody else. Then I began to see him as someone who always encourages you to set a vision and challenge yourself to achieve it.”
IN THE DETAILS
Inoue focused on details to continue the narrative of Sakuragi’s story, which hasn’t been in development since 1996. When readers last saw Sakuragi, he was sidelined with injuries. During the past 18 years, Inoue has said he’d imagine Sakuragi was still alive somewhere, recovering from injury and working out while continuing to think of himself as “the genius” he once was in high school basketball. Those days inspired the illustration — which will never be published — on the Jordan Super.Fly 3, part of a new Jordan Brand collection created in partnership with Inoue.
The number 10 is present throughout the collection, replacing the standard 23. The number is a nod to Sakuragi’s player number and establishes the Jordan Brand x Slam Dunk collaboration as the character’s very own player-exclusive line.
“Using a legacy shoe like the iconic Air Jordan VI, as well as our latest performance model in the Jordan Super.Fly 3, served as the perfect vehicle to highlight the past and present — both in the product and the manga storyline,” said Gemo Wong, Energy Director for Jordan Brand.