The 10 best Air Jordan sneakers of all time

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The GOAT label is a distinction that has lost its luster in recent years. It is thrown too casually. But in the case of Michael Jordan, the acronym for “greatest of all time” continues to shine brightly. The retired basketball player is permanently fixed in the firmament of not only sports stars, but also pop culture icons. You don’t need to have watched a game or know anything about basketball to understand its impact. It’s a legend in every sense of the word. And the sneakers that bear his name have the same status.

It was 1984, and Nike, then a struggling supplier of running shoes (crazy, right?), Was looking to rebrand itself as a go-to brand in sports. Jordan, a rookie with the Chicago Bulls and the most prominent player, seemed like the perfect man to partner with on a shoe line. It was a slam dunk on paper, but he initially turned down the Swoosh, preferring Adidas. He also tried going out to Converse, the maker of his sneakers at the time, but neither could match what Nike was offering. It was a contract worth $ 2 million, an astronomical and record amount in the 1980s. It also came with some controversy; the red and black Air Ship sneakers Jordan initially wore on the court in ’85 were against NBA regulations.

Still, MJ and Nike persevered, building the Air Jordan line to become the GOAT of sneakers. This not only revolutionized marketing as a whole, but also the scope of shoe design. Talents like Peter Moore and Tinker Hatfield, with guidance from Jordan, have continuously introduced new styles to the collection, tweaking the silhouettes, colors and materials over the years. Today, there are 35 Air Jordan models on the market, each with their own limited edition re-releases and collaborations. Indeed, there is an array of players and, like any team, some simply shine more than others. Below we’ve rounded up the 10 best Jordan sneakers, all different, all pushing the limits and all legendary.

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1

Air Jordan I

Original version : 1985

That’s it, folks: the one who started it all. You could argue all day about which sneaker makes the most claim to creating sneaker culture as we know it today, but if that argument doesn’t really focus on the Air Jordan I, you’re doing something. of badness. From the then revolutionary air cushion to the wing logo that represented the high-flying recruit, the AJ1 continues to be the holiest of the grails among collectors.

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2

Air Jordan III

Original version : 1988

The Jordan I is hard to beat, yes, but the Air Jordan III certainly comes close. It was the first design of Tinker Hatfield, who took the reins from Peter Moore. And boy did it start with a bang. Not only did Hatfield continue the Swoosh-less design introduced with the AJII, promoting the Air Jordans as a category in their own right, but he also added eye-catching elephant print panels to the black or white uppers. It was architectural. He broadened the scope of sneaker design. But what really puts the shoe in the pantheon of the greats is the introduction of Jordan’s gravity-defying silhouette as the logo, now known as the Jumpman.

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3

Air Jordan XI

Original version : 1995

It was 1995 and Michael Jordan was the biggest star on the planet. There is simply no way around this statement. After spending two seasons in the MLB, Jordan returned to the basketball court true to form: he won his fourth NBA league title and was named MVP. Additionally, Jordan solidified his position in pop culture, featuring the phenomenon that is Space jam. And the sneakers he wore in the movie, the Air Jordan XIs, were just as cinematic as expected. The shoe featured black patent leather mudguards, webbing lace loops and a translucent outsole. It made us all believe that we too could fly.

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4

Air Jordan IV

Original version : 1989

The Air Jordan XI may have had a starring role in Space jam, but the first sneaker in the collection to hit the big screen was the Air Jordan IV. He appeared in Spike Lee’s Do the right thing after its global release, the first Jordan to be available in all markets. Building on the avant-garde design cues of its predecessor, the IV featured a new lacing support system, called “fenders,” and mesh netting on the tongue and side panels. It was also designed to be much lighter to simulate the feel of flight. Indeed, with these bad boys, to paraphrase the movie, no one should follow suit.

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5

Air Jordan II

Original version : 1986

It’s no fun being the middle child, especially when you’re sandwiched between the groundbreaking Jordan I and the fan-favorite Jordan III, two of the best sneakers in history. Lately, however, the Air Jordan II has been gaining traction among fans who are new to the design cues offered by the second shoe. It was the first Jordan to use luxury details, including Italian-made construction and faux lizard skin. Additionally, the shoe lost the Swoosh, paving the way for the III pushing the boundaries.

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6

Air Jordan V

Original version : 1990

When Michael Jordan took to the skies, he did it with bite. He attacked the hoop. This vibe was the basis of the Air Jordan V, which was heavily inspired by WWII fighter jets. From the interplay of smooth leather and nubuck to the shark-tooth design mesh side panels along the midsole, the V takes no prisoners. It was also the first Jordan to have a translucent sole, which would become a staple for future models.

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7

Air Jordan XII

Original version : 1996

In hell or on the high seas, Michael Jordan has always conquered the court. Proof: In 1997, during the “Grippe Game”, he scored 38 points in the fifth game of the final, while being sick as hell (it is now assumed that it could be food poisoning, no flu). It’s a testament to his perseverance, a quality that also applies to the XII, which he wore during the infamous match. The XII was the first sneaker to be officially launched under the new Air Jordan banner; everything before was technically a Nike shoe. And to reflect this new dawn, the shoe featured quilted chips throughout the upper, inspired by the rising sun on the Japanese flag.

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8

Air Jordan VI

Original version : 1991

Performance was boosted with the release of the Air Jordan VI. The rubber tongue features two grip holes that allow wearers to easily slip into the sneaker. Just slip in there. In fact, the design, with all of its angles and neoprene lining, was inspired by Michael Jordan’s favorite sports car. And to push the performance even further, Michael Jordan won his first championship ring in shoes.

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9

Air Jordan X

Original version : 1994

The Air Jordan X paid homage to Michael Jordan in more than one way. When the sneaker first came out, it was celebrating a decade of partnership between MJ and Nike, as well as his untimely retirement from basketball to join MLB; he returned a year later. However, the shoe is a lasting reminder of its first 10 years, represented by marks on the sole.

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ten

Air Jordan XIV

Original version : 1998

Michael Jordan likes fast cars (see VI). He also likes to retire prematurely (see X). The fusion of those two ideas is the Air Jordan XIV, which takes design cues from his Ferrari 550M, and came out just before MJ’s second basketball and Bulls farewell (he made another comeback a year ago). later, but with the Wizards). To honor 14 years in the trade, the Jumpman logo is affixed 14 times on the shoes, seven on the left shoe and seven on the right.

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