As the next major star in basketball, Michael Jordan was only beginning to gain recognition when he wore his first pair of Nike sneakers in 1984 while playing for the Chicago Bulls. Since then, Jordan sneakers have become a global phenomenon. The cult-like popularity and international following of this shoe are unparalleled.
You might be a complete basketball nerd who has seen every iconic Michael Jordan moment multiple times. Or maybe The Last Dance on Netflix is where you learned everything you know about Michael Jackson. In either case, you’ll be aware of two things:
- The man plays basketball like no one else on Earth;
- And he takes his shoes very seriously.
There are now 35 different Air Jordan models available, not including all the many colorways, limited editions, collaborations, and retro Jordans. There are Jordans for every mood, taste, and occasion, including high-fashion collaborations, on-court speed-optimized sneakers, and 90s street style stalwarts.
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We’ve compiled a list of what might be regarded as the most recognizable, well-liked, cutting-edge, high-performing, and all-around finest Jordans of all time, organized by release dates. These are the designer sneakers that have turned the shoe line into the huge success that it is right now. The Jordans that spark interest in Jordans. The Michael Jordan shoes are largely responsible for modern sneakers as we know them.
Table of Contents
The 10 Best Jordans of All Time
10. Air Jordan I: Released in 1985
One of the best Jordan shoes ever made is without a doubt the original Air Jordan since it was the first Nike shoe that Michael Jordan ever wore on the court and the only one featuring the Nike Swoosh.
The Jordan Brand I is the shoe that not only inspired the current craze with Air Jordans but also sparked a significant uproar when its black and red color scheme violated the NBA’s 51% white rule for footwear.
This type, which is a top choice if you’re all about authentic details, is also offered as a pair of low-top Jordans.
9. Air Jordan XI: Released in 1995
The Air Jordan XI, another game-altering, daring, and ground-breaking design, first appeared on the court in May 1995 as part of the NBA playoffs. After starring (with MJ) in the cult favorite sci-fi film Space Jam, the shoe swiftly rose to fame in popular culture.
As consumers battled for a pair once it was released in the black-and-white Concord colorway, there were riots and clashes all over America. This is one of the most well-liked pairs of Jordan shoes ever, in if you needed further evidence. A pair of low-top Jordans in the same design are also offered.
The 11 Cool Grey is one of the model’s current incarnations that are in high demand. For styling ideas for the Air Jordan 11 Cool Grey, see our lookbook.
8. Air Jordan XII: Released in 1996
Thanks to the guy who founded the company, all Jordan shoes are associated with grit and perseverance, but the XIIs are the most so.
These are the shoes that Michael Jordan wore in the infamous 1997 flu game, in which he managed to score 38 points despite being sick with the illness. It makes sense why these are regarded as among the best Jordan shoes ever produced.
The upper ribbed quilted sections, which were modeled after the Rising Sun flag of Japan, and the pebbled leather as opposed to patent leather are two of the shoe’s most distinctive elements. There are low-top Jordan versions of the XIIs too.
7. Air Jordan VII: Released in 1992
The Jordan brand, as opposed to Nike, was used for the first time when this J was produced (hence the lack of exterior Nike branding and Air window). The beginning of MJ’s career as a businessman and the finest basketball player in the world might be considered as being represented by it.
The 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona saw Michael Jordan win gold for the USA while wearing these Air Jordan VII sneakers. MJ also served as the MVP of the Finals and helped the USA win the championship. One of the most popular pairs of Jordan shoes to ever be introduced is the Black Infrared colorway.
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6. Air Jordan VI: Released in 1991
Speed and exceptional performance are the two pillars of the Air Jordan 6. The two grip holes on the tongue for simple entrance and the neoprene sleeve lining that increases comfort and reduces the chance of blisters are just a few of the details that have been taken into account for game optimization.
One of the best Jordan sneakers of all time, the shoe is rumored to have been influenced by Michael Jordan’s Porsche 911. The star won his first championship with a pair of these super-chic designs on his feet.
5. Air Jordan X: Released in 1994
The AJ X is remarkable for its lightweight and clean-lined design, combination of leather, nylon, and Zoom Air cushioning, as well as its release to commemorate MJ’s 10-year collaboration with Nike and his brief retirement from basketball to join the MLB. People are reminded of the sports star’s historic first 10 years of record-breaking basketball play by the 10 lateral stripes along the sole.
4. Air Jordan XX8: Released in 2013
The XX8 is a more recent, but no less renowned, addition to the AJ line, and it was supported by basketball player Russell Westbrook, known for his dazzling dunks and explosive flair.
With its never-before-seen boot-high shell or shroud (partially inspired by military combat boots), responsive design, flexible yet supportive upper, and strong traction, this is a show-stopping sneaker that doesn’t play around when it comes to looking or functionality.
3. Air Jordan XX3: Released in 2008
The 23rd model in Michael Jordan’s shoe line was always going to be exceptionally noteworthy because it was the same number he wore on the court. The XX3 is unquestionably a masterpiece.
The ultimate sneaker for die-hard Michael Jordan fans, it features the player’s thumbprint engraved on the back and his autograph on the toe, as well as stitching designed to reflect his DNA pattern.
The XX3 is also produced with the least amount of pollutants, trash, and byproducts as is practical as part of the movement toward more environmentally friendly shoes, with Allbirds setting the standard.
2. Air Jordan XX: Released in 2005
The AJ XX is nothing less than Michael Jordan’s life story in sneaker form, and it was created to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Jordan Brand. An ambitious objective that designers Tinker Hatfield and Mark Smith accomplished with their customary vivacity.
Lazar etched approximately 200 symbols into the top, summarizing the athlete’s entire life, including a picture of Michael and his mother Deloris riding in the backseat of a 1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. His finest scoring game is symbolized by the 69 dimples along the side spoke.
1. Air Jordan XXXV DNA: Released in 2020
The last pair of shoes on our list, which both evoke the spirit of a fighter jet and 90s throwback Jordans, are among the craziest, strangest, and most iconic Michael Jordan shoes ever made.
The brand’s exposed Eclipse Plate 2.0, which extends into the shoe’s upper and provides energy return, stability, and cushioning, is featured on the XXXV DNA. When worn with a suit for a smart-casual style, this sneaker wouldn’t look out of place thanks to premium materials like nubuck and suede and aids with responsiveness thanks to a partially exposed Zoom Air bag in the heel.
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How to choose a pair of Air Jordans: A buyer’s guide
Before discussing which Air Jordans are perfect for you, let’s first learn a little bit about the history of this incredibly popular shoe.
Air Jordan history
On April 1st, 1985, the first pair of Air Jordans were made available to the general public as a result of a collaboration between Nike and Michael Jordan, a basketball legend who is now a household name.
Even though MJ was a rookie at the time, Nike extended him a remarkable 5-year contract. The original pair of Jordans, known as the Air Jordan 1s, made its court debut in 1984 and were game-changers right away, despite the fact that the company was at this point better known for producing track footwear.
The Wings emblem was placed next to the traditional Nike Swoosh on the sneaker. The NBA reportedly banned them for being red and black rather than predominantly white as required by the rules. Nike was fined $5,000 each game for defying the regulations, but the publicity it generated helped cement the sneaker’s reputation as a risk-taker and rebel that lives on today.
The Air Jordan II and III were first introduced in 1986 and 1988, respectively. At this point, the Nike Swoosh was swapped out for the Jumpman emblem, which depicts Michael Jordan flying through the air.
A pair of Air Jordans costs, on average, about $145 now. However, you could pay a great deal more. One pair of the original Air Jordans worn by Michael Jordan fetched $560,000 at an auction in 2020. Drake’s custom OVO X Air Jordans, which are worth $2 million and are constructed of solid gold, is the most expensive Jordans ever.
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Air Jordans: design and signature style
What is so special about Air Jordans? What distinctive characteristics unify all Jordans and establish their fame?
The Jumpman emblem, which depicts Michael Jordan leaping into the air, is one of the elements that has helped make Air Jordans such a significant part of sneaker culture. Additionally, the shoe has a rear loop that makes it simple to put on and take off, as well as the same clear rubber sole that was first seen on the Air Jordan V.
Many Jordans have patent leather, which was a characteristic that Michael Jordan explicitly wanted. He desired a pair of shoes that he could use both on and off the court.
Most Jordan shoes also feature Nike’s Zoom Air technology, which improves responsiveness, reduces pronation, and provides the quick-off-the-ground feel that professional basketball players want.
Another prominent component of Jordan shoes is the plastic lace lock, which is intended to hold laces in position during jumps and dunks.
A removable shroud or gaiter, which hides the laces for a dressier look, and a carbon fiber shank plate for strength and stability are further characteristics you might find in Jordan shoes.
How to choose a pair of Jordans
It can be challenging to select the best pair of Air Jordans with so many varieties available. Of course, there is the aesthetics issue, but there is also the issue of athletic performance.
What level of sophistication are you looking for in your Michael Jordan shoes? Or are vintage-inspired retro Jordans more appealing to you?
Look for Jordan brand collaborations with high-fashion labels like Off-White, LA men’s shop Union, or fashion blogger and stylist Aleali May if you want something to wear to formal occasions.
Look for retro iterations of the classics, such as the Air Jordan 1 Retro Chicago or the Air Jordan 5 Fire Red Retro OG, if you want a pair of real, vintage Jordans.
The Jordan 35 has the most recent in sneaker technology, including an eclipse plate for high energy return and a Zoom Air sole, making it the highest-performing Air Jordan at the present.
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Which Jordan model is most in demand?
The Air Jordan 1s are the most well-known Jordan models. the line’s original footwear. They were the first to experience global pop-cultural acclaim. They’re real winners thanks to their simple yet classic appearance and excellent functioning.
What Jordans are the most popular?
The Air Jordan 1 “Black Toe,” “Chicago,” “Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG Bordeaux,” and the Air Jordan Mid Bred 1, a mid-top in a black-and-red colorway that was once prohibited by the NBA, are among the best-selling Jordan models.
What Jordan models are the greatest right now?
The Air Jordan 35, a serious high-performing basketball shoe that was released in 2020, is among the best Jordans available right now. The best Jordans have fashion partnerships like the Off-White x Air Jordan 4 for street-style appeal.
What Jordan model is MJ’s favorite?
The Air Jordan 11 Concord is MJ’s preferred pair of Jordan shoes. The shoe is renowned for its avant-garde design, especially its patent leather construction, which allowed MJ to wear it to formal events. The athlete wore it for the full 1995–1996 campaign.
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Which Jordan 1 is of the highest caliber?
There are numerous Jordan 1 hues available today, and each one is created with the same premium materials as the original Jordan 1s—full-grain calfskin with added cushioning and support. The Black Toe Air Jordan 1 is one of the nicest colorways.