By the time Tinker Hatfield designed the legendary Jordan V in 1990, the brand and Michael Jordan himself were soaring to never before seen heights. Coming off the massive success of the Jordan III and IV, Hatfield’s first two forays into the Jordan line, the brand was crafting some of the most cutting edge, exciting sneakers of all time. Jordan himself was coming closer than ever to cracking through the NBA’s glass ceiling, as he continued to inch toward his first NBA Championship.

Jordan had achieved superstar status by 1990 mostly through an aerial, above the rim attacking style that would simply punish teams who couldn’t keep up with his relentless feats of athleticism. By the time the 1990 season was in full swing, Jordan had expanded his ever-evolving arsenal to include a three-point shot, improving his post-up game and a suffocating defensive repertoire. He already had one league MVP trophy under his belt, as well as a Defensive Player of the Year award, and it appeared as if he couldn’t be stopped. Hatfield sought out to craft a sneaker which fit his unstoppable skill set.

He found inspiration in old war planes used by the United States Army during World War II, specifically the P-51 Mustang fighter jet, a devastating piece of machinery used during air raids in Germany. Mustang pilots and their superior planes claimed to have destroyed over 4,950 enemy aircrafts throughout battles in Europe, Africa and the Pacific. The famous Tuskegee Airmen were known for flying Mustangs, as well.

There was a specific version of the P-51 known as “The Shark” which featured shark teeth along the jet’s barrel. If you look closely at the midsole along the Jordan V, you can clearly see its design inspiration within the sharp, often speckled, points. Military inspiration aside, Hatfield continued to introduce new and exciting advances in sneaker technology every time he crafted the next Jordan in the line. The V would be the first Jordan to feature a clear outsole, pulling inspiration from the Nike MAG originally introduced in Back to the Future II, a sneaker which Hatfield also designed. The Jordan V was also the first Jordan to feature 3M, the reflective material, which would soon become a mainstay in the line over the next 30 years.

The first Jordan Vs would release in February 1990 and retailed for $125. 30 years after the original release, the Jordan V remains one of the most successful and popular Air Jordans ever created. Ranging from the original Chicago Bulls-themed colorways, to a universally-embraced “Grape” iteration, to bold and exciting collaborations from the last 10 years, the Jordan V has successfully transcended from a mere basketball sneaker to pop culture icon. As we look back in the model’s anniversary year, here are some of the best Air Jordan Vs from the last 30 years.

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