Shrouds serve more than one purpose. They can hide the true form of something. Or they can give cause to mourn. The shroud covering the Air Jordan XVI did both. Designed by Wilson Smith, the Air Jordan XVI was a lightweight, high-tech basketball weapon in disguise. Like the Air Jordan XI, it made use of patent leather, giving it a formal look as well as a stretch-proof toe. The upper was mostly lightweight mesh, the Airsole visible once again (for the first time since the VI).

But it was the removeable leather shroud that separated the XVI from all Jordans that came before. It fastened with magnetic snaps over the upper, providing a more formal look—but no real performance benefits. Well, unless you count an extra place to have a name and number embroidered as a benefit. The idea was that it was something like a warmup suit—something to tear away before game time, exposing the all-business side underneath. Still, a lot of players elected to play with the shroud still on.

Once again, those players didn’t include Michael Jordan. Instead it was a new crop of guys like Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson, along with old friends Reggie Miller, Mitch Richmond and Michael Finley.