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In 1992-1993 when Tinker Hatfield and Nike started working on the Air Jordan 9, Michael Jordan was in Asia to promote for Nike.
Tinker was really influenced by Japanese design. There is a lot of features on the shoe that you may not know which came from the Japanese culture.
Here is a comment from Tinker on the Air Jordan IX:
“The Air Jordan IX represented the globalization of the Air Jordan brand name. Everybody around the world wanted to be like Mike. Take a close look at the soles of the shoes, we designed the different languages around the world that describes the sporting spirit of Michael Jordan and what he has done for the world of sports.