Michael Jordan’s Influence Praised By J. Cole, Kobe Bryant

J. Cole, Meek Mill and Bun B recount their favorite MJ moments and sneakers on Jordan's 50th birthday.

HOUSTON, TEXAS — There is a lot to celebrate this NBA All-Star Weekend. The world’s greatest ball players have invaded Houston, Texas for a flashy exhibition of amazing talent and skill in Sunday’s All-Star Game and today the world’s greatest basketball player, Michael Jordan turns 50 years old. The milestone has sparked a b-day bash and a ton of conversation over the past few days in H-Town.

Though the majority of his accomplishments were on the court with his six NBA Championships, two Olympic gold medals and a college championship, Jordan is a global pop icon who has penetrated the fashion world with his Air Jordan sneaker, Hollywood with his 1996 film “Space Jam” and music. MJ starred with the “other” MJ, Michael Jackson in the King of Pop’s “Jam” music video and has had his name dropped in countless rap lyrics by the likes of the Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z and Nas.

New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony counts Mike’s awe-inspiring lay-up against the Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals as his favorite MJ highlight. While making his move towards the hoop Jordan juggled the ball from his right to left hand in mid-air before scoring the bucket. That same move had a profound effect on rap star and hoop fanatic J. Cole as well. “I remember that moment so well, and I just remember trying to do that move like all day long,” he gushed to MTV News.

For Bun B, it was His Airness’ famous Flu Game in 1997 Finals which left a lasting impression. Despite being sick Mike went on to score 38 points against the Utah Jazz to win the game, before he was carried off the court by his teammates. “Most people use flus and colds and sneezes to get outta work, but Mike refused to not go out and give it all he got,” Bun said.

Meek Mill applies MJ’s on-court feats as motivations for his raps. Jordan’s penchant for taking clutch shots made him a fearless competitor and major inspiration for the Philadelphia battle rapper. “I always use it because Mike will take that big shot at the end and go for the gusto and make it happen,” the MMG MC told us.

No question Michael’s influenced rap’s competitive nature, but he also put his stamp on hip-hop fashion with his Air Jordan shoe, which is reinvented each year, differentiated by design and numbered by roman numeral.

Folks from all walks of life lace up the designer shoes, but hip-hop’s affinity for the line of sneakers is unmatched. In 1985, the very first Air Jordan model was banned from the NBA because the red and black mock-up violated a little-known league rule which mandated players had to wear sneakers of a certain color. “I gotta lot of love for the I,” Bun said also adding the IIIs to his list of favorites.

Kobe Bryant, who has his own line of Nike sneakers, is also fond of the IIIs, which were released in 1988 and marked by the elephant-skin print which wrapped around the toe-area. “I searched and searched and searched and finally got my hands on a pair when I was like 10 years old and they’ve been my favorite since,” he told MTV News correspondent Sway Calloway.

Future prefers the IXs which were released in 1994 after Jordan retired for the first time (he would eventually return to the game a year later), but no matter who you ask, everyone has their favorite. “Michael Jordan sneakers, that’s what it’s all about,” said Chicago Bulls star Joakim Noah. “When you walked into high school with the Michael Jordan sneakers on you were the man.”

What’s your favorite Michael Jordan memory? Let us know in the comments!

Mentally been many places, but I'm Brooklyn's own. Hip-hop gives me life!
@RobMarkman