Tinker Hatfield's original concept for the Air Jordan 9 is simple: a internationally influenced aesthetic for a globally recognizable icon. To that end, a sleek, modern silhouette featuring segemented leather uppers, a dynamic fit inner bootie, one pull lacing system and split Air cushioning (encapsulated forefoot, large volume heel) was embellished with a heel logo inspired by the Japanese rising sun, and enscribed on the soles with descriptive attributes of MJ in various languages.
The Air Jordan 9 occupies a unique space in the Jordan pantheon. Originally released during the 1993-94 season, the shoe was the first Jordan model to be issued during a Michael Jordan retirement, and, because MJ's return to the NBA didn't occur until more than halfway through the 1994-95 season, the Jordan 9 was never worn on an NBA court by MJ. Rather, the banner for the Jordan 9 was trusted to a select group of player edition models for Kendall Gill, Mitch Richmond, BJ Armstrong, and most notably, Penny Hardaway.
The University Blue Jordan 9 takes its cues from the Penny player edition, although the use of UNC inspired university blue, rather than the Orlando Magic shade, brings the design's focus back to MJ himself.