The Air Jordan III convinced Michael Jordan to renew his endorsement contract with Nike; this shoe, designed by Nike employee Tinker Hatfield, was heavily inspired by Jordan's own comments on what he wanted from a basketball shoe. The Air Jordan III is seen not only as a turning point in Nike's relationship with Michael Jordan, but also in its own health as a company.

Nike had been going through some corporate turmoil in 1987, the year Hatfield designed the Air Jordan III. The fact that Hatfield, a young man who was trained as an architect and lacked much experience in sneaker design, was charged with designing the new Jordans is a reflection of the company's hard times. At this point, multiple other companies, including Adidas, the company Jordan initially wanted to work with before signing with Nike, were trying to sign him to an endorsement deal. Hatfield's ability to listen to Jordan's comments and translate those ideas into a sneaker design that Jordan actually liked and wanted to wear helped to convince the basketball legend to stay with Nike and continue making the Air Jordan shoe, which has been in production for decades.