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Sneaker Moments: The Shrug

Part of the what makes Michael Jordan so great are the moments where he showed us why he would be the single greatest player to ever play. These defining moments if you will, all have a story as do the the shoes that go along with these moments. Throughout his career, Michael Jordan left us mesmerized with images that will never be forgotten. One of these moments occurred on June 30, 1992, Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals vs. the Portland Trailblazers, The Shrug.

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To set the stage for this moment, we should look at one of Jordan’s weaknesses in his game; his inability to shoot the three-pointer. During the 1991-1992 season, Jordan shot a measly 27-100 from the three-point line. The only season where Jordan made more than 30 three-pointers before this was during the 1989-1990 season where he went 92-245 which ended up being the third most attempts in his career. When he was being compared to Clyde Drexler before the 1992 NBA Finals started, Jordan would claim that he chose not to shoot three-pointers and that was why it wasn’t a weapon of his and not necessarily a weakness. No matter what way you look at it, the three-point shot was not something Jordan used to take down his opponents with at this stage in his career.

The Shrug is an iconic moment not only as it was one of the greatest performances in NBA Finals history, but because Jordan showed his critics that he could shoot from the outside and was not just an explosive slasher that had a nice mid-range jumper. Jordan finished the first quarter with 18 points and three three-pointers and finished the first half with 35 points and six three-pointers, both of which were NBA Finals’ records. It was after Jordan’s sixth three-pointer, which put the Chicago Bulls up by 17 points, where he looked over to the broadcasting booth and gave his iconic shrug, as if indicating that even he couldn’t really explain what was going on. You can attribute Jordan’s scoring performance to being “in the zone” but Jordan certainly made a conscious effort to shoot from outside in this game. Clyde Drexler was giving Jordan plenty of space early on, almost daring him to shoot, and Jordan took advantage of that. In his post-game interview Jordan went on to say, “I was in a zone. My threes felt like free-throws, man. I really didn’t know what I was doing, but I was taking them and they were going in, so, they really helped the game.”

This game and this moment will forever be remembered in NBA history as it displayed another facet of Jordan’s game on the biggest stage of the NBA. If it was even possible at this time, Jordan showed the world that no matter how great he was and no matter how great the moments were that we had seen from him, Jordan had plenty more to show us and he wasn’t done evolving as a player.

With most iconic moments in Jordan’s career, there’s an iconic shoe that goes along with it. For instance, almost everyone remembers the shoes that were a part of The Last Shot, The Flu Game, the 1988 Dunk Contest or even The Shot against Craig Ehlo. The Shrug, despite its fame within the history of basketball and Michael Jordan’s career, unfortunately leaves many forgetting what shoes were worn at that time. The Jordan VII in the black/true red color way is the oft forgotten shoe, often dubbed the “Raptors” by some in the sneaker community because the shoe’s similar color way to the Toronto Raptors’ team colors. However, this shoe was what Jordan wore for home games during the 1992 season and what he wore for this infamous moment during the 1992 NBA Finals. The shoe was designed by Tinker Hatfield, who was the mastermind behind the Jordan III – XV, XX, XX3 as well as the Jordan 2010 and more recently, the Jordan XX8. The VII was based on Hatfield’s Huarache design which focused on the fit of the shoe around the ankle and featured a neoprene bootie. The Jordan VII altogether is sometimes a shoe that gets overlooked when we talk about iconic shoes compared to the Jordan I, III or XI. Perhaps some feel that the Jordan VII just wasn’t that memorable of a design or maybe it’s just a shoe that gets lost in the shuffle of so many other iconic designs. Either way there is no doubting the significance of this Jordan VII and its place in history as it will forever be linked to Michael Jordan’s shrug.

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One Response to “Sneaker Moments: The Shrug”

  1. Great article! I remember the every moment of the game.

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