Melo celebrates launch of Air Jordan 2012

ORLANDO -- Carmelo Anthony created his own "Linsanity" when he walked into the Footaction at The Florida Mall Sunday afternoon.

Melo headlined Jordan Brand's special "Flight Lab" event to celebrate the launch of the Air Jordan 2012 Flight System, which is now available for a suggested retail price of $180. The system, which gives basketball players the ability to customize to their unique style and fit preference, comes with one inner sleeve and one midsole.

The AJ 2012 Deluxe version, which debuted on Feb. 8 for $223, features two inner sleeves and three midsole options, allowing for six different shoe configurations. The high inner sleeve is for players who need more protection, and the lower one is for those who need to be more quick on the court, including increased freedom of motion. The three interchangeable midsoles are for "fly around" (quick), "fly over" (in the air) and "fly through" (explosive).

In addition, the sneaker is available for further customization at NIKEiD. Customers can design their own pair with more options in colors, materials and performance.

The legendary Air Jordan sneaker designer, Tinker Hatfield, who worked hand-in-hand with Michael Jordan starting with the AJ III, is the co-designer of the AJ 2012. He is also NIKE, Inc.'s Vice President of Special Projects and Creative Design.

Hatfield, who is also an architect and urban planner, has used art and culture through the years to design the different Air Jordans. For the 2012, Hatfield, a Portland (Ore.) native, drew inspiration from the city's old "Junk Town" African-American jazz district from the 1930s to 60s. He linked the colorful expressiveness, from the zoot suits to the black saddle shoes during that time period, to the confident and audacious attitudes of young people today living in hip areas, such as Harlem, and those in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Hatfield then started drawing sketches on his iPad -- a new way he's been able to map out his designs -- combining the black saddle with a wing tip. He said when Jordan visited Portland to check out the first mock of the AJ 2012, he was "very excited." From there, Hatfield continued to finalize the sneaker.

Speaking of Jordan, Hatfield called him "a design collaborator," and he said the NBA legend is a "really cool guy" and "truly active in the design process." Hatfield said Jordan's biggest concern is: does the sneaker work functionally?

Hawks small forward Joe Johnson was going to wear his own customized version of the AJ 2012 on Sunday for the All-Star Game, but a left knee injury forced him to pull out.

Anthony himself has his own Jordan sneaker line, the Melo M series, which is now in its eighth year. He wouldn't want to have it any other way.

"To have your own personalized pair of Jordans is the end all be all," he said.

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