As celebrates the 49th birthday of one of the most important icons in pop culture, we recently had the chance to talk with one of the most important people to MIchael Jordan’s legacy, Tinker Hatfield. The world knows all about Michael Jordan’s on the court exploits, but not many people may have been as essential to Jordan’s off-the-court legacy as Hatfield. Tinker Haven Hatfield is the Oregon-born, world-renowned designer of many of Nike’s most innovative and popular designs. The inventor of the world’s first cross-training shoe, Tinker also designed Air Jordans III through XV, the Air Jordan XXs, XXIIIs, 2010 and the latest Air Jordan 2012s. I had the honor of chopping it up with one of the world’s most influential designers as he shared some candid stories about the legendary Michael Jordan and their working relationship in the early days, and how he is still influencing the way Air Jordan’s are created despite not being an active competitor.

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– As Told To Kazeem Famuyide (@RealLifeKaz)