Who is Tinker Hatfield? Taking a closer look at modest originator and designer of Jordans III-XV and how he creates several other Nike /Jordan shoe lines

Tinker Hatfield, designer of many famous Jordan shoes
Tinker Hatfield, designer of many famous Jordan shoes

One reason why the Jordan Brand is beloved by players is because of its timeless design. In the game of basketball, there are a few things that are constant. These are the players, the basketball and the shoes.

Basketball sneakers have gone through changes over the years. Converse was the first shoe company that catered to basketball players. Their shoe line with Chuck Taylor became extremely popular, and most of the early players of the sport wore them during games. That changed when Michael Jordan arrived in the NBA in 1984.

Tinker Hatfield's pitch that encouraged Michael Jordan to stay with Nike

Early in his NBA career, the Hall of Fame shooting guard was already partnered with Nike for his shoe deal. Nike had already released two Air Jordan shoes, but the superstar wasn't happy with the design and almost left the company. Nike's CEO, Phil Knight, told Hatfield to design a shoe that would convince MJ to stay with them.

In a meeting with the Chicago Bulls star, Tinker presented the Jordan III design, which convinced MJ to stay with the company. Jordan wore this shoe when he won the 1988 Slam Dunk contest by taking off from the free throw line.


In an interview with SLAM Magazine, the famed shoe designer explained how he was able to design many iconic shoes. He said he observed what he has experienced and seen in his life. Hatfield also said he took the time to combine function and style with the shoe. Besides MJ's third signature shoe, Tinker was also responsible for designing The Air Max 1.

Tinker's Air Jordan III design is the first pair to have the "The Jumpman" logo. The Air Jordan III changed the way basketball sneakers are designed. Most designers consider the process that Hatfield follows, combining fashion and function.

Throughout his storied tenure as a sneaker designer, he created iconic designs for Jordan Brand. Hatfield influenced the design process for the iconic shoe line from III to XV, XX and XX3.

Hatfield's artwork has become the gold standard for shoe designs. He treats every sneaker with care, putting significant thought into each pair.

Tinker Hatfield's career-long collaboration with MJ has made him one of the most influential people in the basketball business. While he may not have donned a jersey or run an entire team, Tinker's designs helped players express themselves on and off the court.

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Edited by Chad Marriott
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