THE 100 BEST AIR JORDANS OF ALL TIME

The 100 Best Air Jordans of All Time

(Oh, just an FYI, this list does NOT include Player Editions.)

100. Air Jordan XVI “Ginger”

Original Release: 2001

Worn by Mike as a Wizard, the “Light Ginger” Air Jordan XVI was a rarity — a lifestyle release (word to Timberlands) that actually made it onto an NBA court. Not the most popular XVI at the time, it’s sought after now. Go figure

100. Air Jordan XVI "Ginger"

99. Air Jordan XV “Black/Red”

Original Release: 2000

IN THE YEAR 2000… Jordan Brand will release an Air Jordan that could have been worn by the Keebler Elves. Inspired by Prada Sport shoes, the X-15 rocket plane, and (most controversially) Mike’s own wagging tongue, the oddly shaped Air Jordan XV was worn by Reggie Miller, among others.

99. Air Jordan XV "Black/Red"

98. Air Jordan Retro III “Mocha”

Original Release: 2001

This might come as a surprise, but an Air Jordan III featuring brown elephant print on a mostly white upper wasn’t an immediate hit. Much like the ginger XVIs, the Mocha IIIs were clearance rack material until they disappeared from shelves, at which point they were reassessed. Flip them with a tan upper and a gum sole, add the BIN 23 seal, and these would be an easy sell now

98. Air Jordan Retro III "Mocha"

 

 

97. Air Jordan XX1 “Red Suede”

Original Release: 2006

The leather Air Jordan XX1s were nothing to write home about, but D’Wayne Edwards’s design was bananas in Varsity Red suede. Inspired by the Bentley Continental GT as well as high-end racing shoes, this $180 model would have looked equally at home on the hardwood or in the footwell of one of MJ’s Ferraris

97. Air Jordan XX1 "Red Suede"

96. Air Jordan 2011 “Black/Neo Lime”

Original Release: 2011

The Air Jordan 2011 made use of “patina leather” on the upper, a dress shoe material that was buffed to a warm glow, and actually looked better as it wore in. This “neo lime” pair combined the classic material with futuristic colors, giving more than a little pop to a new Tinker home run

96. Air Jordan 2011 "Black/Neo Lime"

95. Air Jordan Retro VI “Doernbecher”

Original Release: 2009

Every year, Nike teams up with Oregon’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital to produce the “Doernbecher Freestyle Collection,” classic models re-interpreted by children who are patients. The Doernbecher VI, with its blue suede upper and clear outsole, was one of the highlights in 2009. What time is it? Game time

95. Air Jordan Retro VI "Doernbecher"

94. Air Jordan XX2 “Black/Red”

Original Release: 2007

Inspired by the F-22 stealth fighter, the Air Jordan XX2 utilized camoflauge patterns and high-tech materials like titanium. Michael Jordan himself got so caught up in the “Stealth” concept that he adopted it as a (presumably temporary) nickname. The black/red version was the best of the bunch.

94. Air Jordan XX2 "Black/Red"

93. Air Jordan XVII+

Original Release: 2002

A fancier version of the Air Jordan XVII, the XVII+ did away with the lace cover and the briefcase, and added mock croc on the heel and copper eyelets. They featured the same midsole/outsole as the XVII, thus a familiar ride. They also featured the same $200 pricetag, which may have reduced potential sales

93. Air Jordan XVII+

92. Air Jordan 2011 “Black/Stealth”

Original Release: 2011

The murdered-out version of the Air Jordan 2011 saw the patina leather replaced with textured patent, which gave the nearly all-black shoe some necessary shine. A translucent outsole and white mesh finished it off, while internally it featured the same replaceable midsole tech

92. Air Jordan 2011 "Black/Stealth"

91. Air Jordan Retro 1 Patent “Black/Gold”

Original Release: 2003

There were a whole series of patent leather Air Jordan Is in 2003, but the black/gold pair — meant to pay homage to a near-mythical black/gold OG pair from 1985 — was the one you needed. The jewel ball-and-wings logo was a bit of unnecessary fluff, but the shoe itself was a genuine bit of cool.

91. Air Jordan Retro 1 Patent "Black/Gold"

Air Jordan Retro XII “Rising Sun”

Original Release: 2009

The Air Jordan XII was inspired in part by the Japanese flag, and the perforated upper of this nearly all-white pair helped further evoke the Rising Sun. A bit of shine on the toe provided some contrast, as did the black and red strap up the heel. And if the subtle cues of the upper weren’t clear, the red and white Rising Sun graphic on the insole made the inspiration abundantly clear.

Air Jordan Retro XII "Rising Sun"

89. Air Jordan IX “Olive”

Original Release: 1994

The black sheep of the Air Jordan IX family and outlet material when they first dropped in 1994, the “Olive” Air Jordan IX was received no better upon its initial retro release. (They sold well enough, but most pairs were dyed all black.) It’s only now, nearly 20 years after their initial release, that they’re appreciated for what they are.

89. Air Jordan IX "Olive"

88. Air Jordan IE Low “Black/Red”

Original Release: 1996

There were regular Air Jordan XI Lows — patent leather and all — and there were these, which used the same midsole/outsole and a completely new leather upper. The elephant print trim harkened back to the III, and the highly ventilated leather made them perfect for summer.

88. Air Jordan IE Low "Black/Red"

87. Air Jordan XX3 “Finale”

Original Release: 2008

By the time the Air Jordan XX3 Premier Finale released, even the most die-hard Jordanheads were suffering from a bit of XX3 fatigue. Still, these were something special. The release was limited to 529 pairs (23 pairs to 23 stores), and represented the last of the line for conventially numbered Air Jordans. And you can never, ever go wrong with black and red. With the gift of hindsight, these could easily be considered the best of the Considered Design XX3

87. Air Jordan XX3 "Finale"

86. Air Jordan XVII “Sport Royal”

Original Release: 2002

Here’s a question: Wouldn’t a jazz-themed (the music, not the team) shoe be best packaged in an instrument case rather than a briefcase? The $200 Air Jordan VII debuted in Wizards-appropriate Sport Royal rather than the more familiar white/red/black, signalling the start of a new era

86. Air Jordan XVII "Sport Royal"

85. Air Jordan XIV “Indiglo”

Original Release: 1999

The final Air Jordan XIV to release as part of the initial drop, the “Indiglo” XIV was a bold move. From the bright green hits to the white outsole, the Indiglos turned convention on its ear, while the mix of tumbled leather and suede on the uppers preserved the sports/luxury theme.

85. Air Jordan XIV "Indiglo"

84. Air Jordan 2012 “University Blue”

Original Release: 2012

Latest greatest. The Air Jordan 2012 was something new for Jordan — a module, rather than just a shoe, with interchangeable midsoles as well as internal booties, allowing one to switch up cushioning as well as support. The 2012 represented more of an investment (in money as well as closet space for the enormous tiered box) but in terms of versatility, they are unmatched

84. Air Jordan 2012 "University Blue"

83. Air Jordan Retro XIII “Altitude”

Original Release: 2005

The most startling feature of the “Altitude” Air Jordan Retro XIII wasn’t the lurid green accents, but rather the faux stingray leather on the uppers. Unique in texture as well as color, these limited XIIIs were something special.

83. Air Jordan Retro XIII "Altitude"

82. Air Jordan XX “Stealth”

Original Release: 2005

Designed to pay tribute to Michael Jordan’s legendary career while still providing state-of-the-art performance, the Air Jordan XX could have only been designed by one man. Tinker Hatfield returned to the Jordan fold, coaxing stories from MJ for the intricately lasered upper (done by Mark Smith), while equipping the shoe with a floating ankle collar and Independent Podular Suspension (IPS).

82. Air Jordan XX "Stealth"

81. Air Jordan VII “Cardinal”

Original Release: 1992

The mostly white “Cardinal” Air Jordan VII paired a smooth- and tumbled-leather upper with a black midsole to provide maximum contrast on the Huarache-inspired silhouette. Not as playful as the “Hare” or “Bordeaux,” as serious as the “Raptors” or as iconic as the “Olympics,” the “Cardinal” VIIs still shine.

81. Air Jordan VII "Cardinal"

80. Air Jordan XIII “White/Red”

Originally Released: 1998

This is a case where True Red may have been too true. The primarily white/red colorway of the Black Cat inspired Air Jordan XIII was a winner, but the propensity of the red dye to bleed through the white leather uppers as well as the outsole ensured they were meant to wear, not keep. No word on whether the golf ball style dimples on the upper reduced drag.

80. Air Jordan XIII "White/Red"

79. Air Jordan Retro XII “Nubuck”

Original Release: 2003

Sold as part of a pack for $200, the “nubuck” Air Jordan Retro XIIs would have been equally at home on the feet of then-Nugget Carmelo Anthony or Jordan’s alma mater, UNC. As the XIIs had only been seen in all leather to that point, the nubuck uppers were a welcome twist on a familiar silhouette.

79. Air Jordan Retro XII "Nubuck"

78. Air Jordan Retro 1 “White/Grand Purple”

Original Release: 2009

Even now, it’s hard to determine how many colorways of the original Air Jordan were produced. What’s clear is that there were a heck of a lot of them, including some with metallic highlights. In 2009, Jordan released a “Do The Right Thing” pack of Jordan Is with metallic trim, in Varsity Red and Sea Green. But it was this Grand Purple pair, that never even made it to U.S. shores, that ruled the day.

78. Air Jordan Retro 1 "White/Grand Purple"

77. Air Jordan Retro IV “Black Cat”

Original Release: 2006

What with their mix of materials and textures, the Air Jordan IV was one of the few Air Jordans that took well to an all-black makeup. The “Black Cat” IVs were an easy go-to shoe since they went with everything and were only $115 at retail. Those were the days.

77. Air Jordan Retro IV "Black Cat"

76. Air Jordan XVI “Navy”

Original Release: 2001

The shrouded Air Jordan XVI was a welcome departure from the elfin XV, and was the first post-(second)-retirement Air Jordan to have an Air Jordanesque impact. (It helped that the first colorway combined black patent leather with red accents and a clear outsole — familiarity can be a good thing.) This navy colorway was worn by a diverse group that included Michael Finley, Reggie Miller and Darius Miles. (No wonder Mike came back.)

76. Air Jordan XVI "Navy"

75. Air Jordan Retro 1 “Boston Celtics”

Original Release: 2009

Designed to commemorate MJ’s 63-point explosion against the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 1986 NBA Playoffs, the “Celtics” Air Jordan 1 was a true hightop retro in “black toe” form, only replacing the Bulls red with Celtics green. It takes more than a little hubris to take on the colors of a team that not only swept the Bulls, but went on to win the NBA Championship — but what else would you expect from Jordan? Plus, the colorway is great.

75. Air Jordan Retro 1 "Boston Celtics"

74. Air Jordan XIV “White/Red”

Original Release: 1999

As the last Air Jordan that Mike would wear as a member of the Chicago Bulls, the sleek, Ferrari-inspired XIV took on extra significance. It was also unique as it was issued with two different upper designs — one with stitched ribs along the upper, and the others without. Either way, they were utterly distinctive and as exotic as their inspiration.

74. Air Jordan XIV "White/Red"

73. Air Jordan X “City Pack”

Original Release: 1995

With MJ off flailing at curveballs in Birmingham, the Air Jordan X was manufactured with other players in mind. Four of these — the Sonics, Magic, Bulls and Knicks — were extraordinarily similar, the sole differences being the outsoles and liners. Worn by Kendall Gill, Nick Anderson, Harold Miner (as a member of the Miami Heat) and Hubert Davis respectively, the “City Pack” Xs ensured that the Air Jordan mystique would live on in the NBA.

73. Air Jordan X "City Pack"

 

 

71. Air Jordan Retro IV “Eminem”

Original Release: 2004

Just 50 pairs of these Detroit-themed Air Jordan Retro IVs were made for Slim Shady and his closest friends to celebrate the release of his “Encore” album. While the upper materials were similar to the more celebrated UNDFTD Air Jordan IV, the colors and the fact that they never hit retail keep them down.

71. Air Jordan Retro IV "Eminem"

70. Air Jordan XII “White/Red”

Original Release: 1997

Part of the second drop of Air Jordan XIIs, the white/red pair featured a translucent red sole to match the red mudguard, and a black liner that welcomed black socks. Designed for the older MJ, the shoe was also worn by Bulls centers Luc Longley and Bill Wennington, much to Mike’s chagrin.

70. Air Jordan XII "White/Red"

69. Air Jordan VI “White/Maroon”

Original Release: 1991

One of the very few Air Jordans from the first years that have never been retroed, the white/maroon Air Jordan VI was a sleeper from the start. Not a colorway that would have been worn by MJ on the court, yet not flashy enough to hit hard on the streets, the white/maroon VIs were most often found on the courts — exactly where they were supposed to be. The white-on-white “Nike Air” embroidery on the heels was the final subtle touch.

69. Air Jordan VI "White/Maroon"

68. Air Jordan Retro IV “Rare Air”

Original Release: 2006

What if you took the lasering from the Air Jordan XX and applied it to a classic silhouette? The best result of this was the “Rare Air” Air Jordan Retro IV, a 2006 model that otherwise borrowed from one of the best-known Air Jordan IV colorways, and highlighted it with red laces and a 3M back panel.

68. Air Jordan Retro IV "Rare Air"

67. Air Jordan VII “Black/True Red”

Original Release: 1992

Black meant business when it came to the Bulls, who adopted the classic Celtics look of black shoes for the playoffs only. Since the black/True Red colorway of the Air Jordan VII included purple highlights, they became known as the “Raptors,” even though the Raptors didn’t even exist until years later. We don’t get it either.

67. Air Jordan VII "Black/True Red"

66. Air Jordan Retro V “Army Olive”

Original Release: 2006

If you couldn’t get your hands on the UNDFTD IVs (and who could?) there was this similar “Army Olive” Retro V LS. Done up in a similar colorway of military green with orange accents, the V wasn’t as detail-rich as its ultra-limited brother, but at least it was accessible to the masses. And the reflective tongue of the V assured that they’d pop.

66. Air Jordan Retro V "Army Olive"

65. Air Jordan 2012 “Wolf Grey/Volt”

Original Release: 2012

How things have changed. Rather than a black/red or white/black/red intro, Jordan rolled out the Air Jordan 2012 in matte grey and neon Volt, ensuring an impact would be made by more than just the modular system. The attention to detail — including a jigsaw-like Jumpman and saddle shoe stitching — was second to none.

65. Air Jordan 2012 "Wolf Grey/Volt"

64. Air Jordan X “Sacramento”

Original Release: 1995

Who would have thought that Mitch Richmond would get the first (and for a long while, only) black variation of the Air Jordan X? The Sacramento Kings star laced these up during the ’95 season, and a very select few were able to find pairs at retail. Royalty.

64. Air Jordan X "Sacramento"

63. Air Jordan Retro III “Doernbecher”

Original Release: 2010

Designed by young patient Cole Johanson, the Doernbecher Freestyle Air Jordan Retro III combined many elements of Cole’s life on a striking red and black upper. Finished off with a translucent sole, the Doernbecher IIIs were like a Livestrong bracelet for your feet — only Jordans

63. Air Jordan Retro III "Doernbecher"

62. Air Jordan IX “Black/Charcoal”

Original Release: 1994

It’s easy to imagine that, had he not retired to pursue his baseball dreams, that Michael Jordan would have worn these Air Jordan IXs in the 1994 NBA Finals, chasing a fourth straight title and going directly at the man picked first in his draft class, Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon. If that happens, maybe these shoes are ranked higher than 62nd. Context matters.

62. Air Jordan IX "Black/Charcoal"

61. Air Jordan II Low “White/Black/Red”

Original Release: 1987

After missing most of his second season with a broken foot, Michael Jordan is probably the last guy who should have ever worn lowtops. But he did, sporting these Air Jordan II lows for at least a couple of games in the ’86-87 season. Did that choice inspire the lower, 3/4-cut height on the III and IV? Maybe so.

61. Air Jordan II Low "White/Black/Red"

60. Air Jordan V “Bin 23”

Original Release: 2011

The Bin 23 collection is the highest of the high end when it comes to Air Jordan, the AMG to their Mercedes. For their take on the classic V, Jordan went back to MJ’s own roots, and a pair of black Vs he wore in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks. Jordan had laced up his personal pair with white laces, and that’s the way this upscale model came. Playoff ready.

60. Air Jordan V "Bin 23"

59. Air Jordan Retro IV LS “Thunder”

Original Release: 2006

Released in conjunction with its “Lightning” brother, the Jordan IV LS “Thunder” came with a matching jacket and retailed for a breathtaking $500. The “New Love” colorway honored MJ’s motorcycle team.

59. Air Jordan Retro IV LS "Thunder"

58. Air Jordan Retro V “Green Bean”

Original Release: 2006

With its fully reflective upper and green trim, the “Green Bean” took the already distinctive and flashy Air Jordan V to new heights (or new depths, depending how you felt about reflective material on shoes). No photos, please.

58. Air Jordan Retro V "Green Bean"

57. Air Jordan Retro II “Melo”

Original Release: 2004

Carmelo Anthony didn’t get a signature shoe from Jordan right away, but he sure got some good PEs. This Denver take on the Air Jordan II made it to retail, where fans of Melo (or the Air Jordan II) were overjoyed to be able to rep.

57. Air Jordan Retro II "Melo"

56. Air Jordan X “UNC”

Original Release: 1995

From before he got there until long after he graduated, Michael Jordan’s beloved University of North Carolina was a Converse school. But when they finally joined the Nike family in the mid-’90s, MJ and co. were prepared. This powder blue take on the Air Jordan X was worn by All-American guard Jerry Stackhouse, who would later become Mike’s teammate in Washington. Small world.

56. Air Jordan X "UNC"

55. Air Jordan XIII “Black/White”

Original Release: 1998

You could call these Air Jordan XIIIs the “Chompers” because of their resemblance to KAWS’s work — it wouldn’t be any more ridiculous than most of the Air Jordan nicknames out there. The Zoom Air equipped XIIIs were Mike’s weapon of choice through much of his final championship run, as he alternated between these and the black/red pair.

55. Air Jordan XIII "Black/White"

54. Air Jordan VIII “White/Grey/Red”

Original Release: 1993

It’s a good thing Marvin the Martian didn’t get his greedy hands on all of the Air Jordan VIIIs, because it turned out Earthlings wanted them, too. The hefty cross-strapped hightops were a jarring contrast to their stripped-down, Huarache-inspired predecessors, but even a mean dose of swampfoot couldn’t slow Mike down, as he cruised to his third NBA championship.

54. Air Jordan VIII "White/Grey/Red"

53. Air Jordan IX “University Blue”

Original Release: 1994

Actually, these Air Jordan IXs were the first Jordans worn at UNC — and being that they were a team shoe of sorts, the “23” that was embroidered on the back of all the other IXs was absent from this version.

53. Air Jordan IX "University Blue"

52. Air Jordan XIII “Flint”

Original Release: 1998

Featuring a mix of dimpled nylon mesh, suede and leather on the uppers, the “Flint” Air Jordan XIII was somewhat unique before you even got to the colorway. Aside from the University Blue Jumpman on the tongue, this pair was more appropriate for the Georgetown Hoyas — perhaps a bit of payback for beating them in the 1982 NCAA Final.

52. Air Jordan XIII "Flint"

51. Air Jordan XVI “Black/Red”

Original Release: 2001

Spatted dress shoes for the court. The thought was that one could wear them with the shrouds to the game, then take off the shrouds and be ready for business. That didn’t stop players from keeping the shrouds on all the time — guess people were less concerned with weight back in 2001.

51. Air Jordan XVI "Black/Red"

50. Air Jordan 2011 “White/Anthracite”

Original Release: 2011

Tinker Back. Tinker Hatfield teamed up with Tom Luedecke for the Air Jordan 2011, which took inspiration from such disparate sources as constellations and the movie “Avatar.” Made from rich leathers in an era when Nike Basketball was moving towards more synthetics and mesh, the Air Jordan 2011 was simultaneously cutting edge and classic.

50. Air Jordan 2011 "White/Anthracite"

49. Air Jordan XII “All-Star”

Original Release: 1997

They’re now known as the “Playoffs,” but Michael Jordan first broke these out in February, not May. His triple-double in Cleveland was an All-Star first, and his black and white shoes were a departure from the previous year’s gleaming white model. Before the game, his shoes drew as much attention in the locker room as any of his All-Star teammates.

49. Air Jordan XII "All-Star"

48. Air Jordan VI “Sp Blue”

Original Release: 1991

There always seems to be contention as to whether the “SP” indicated “Sport Blue” or “September Blue,” but whatever the case, it sure wasn’t Carolina. Then again, this followed the example set by the “True Blue” IIIs and “Military Blue” IVs of non-Bulls colors that just happened to look good.

48. Air Jordan VI "Sp Blue"

47. Air Jordan Retro VI “DMP”

Original Release: 2006

The “Defining Moments Pack” or DMP was notable primarily for the inclusion of the “Concord” Air Jordan XI, but seeing that those have retroed again, now the prize may be the black/gold Air Jordan VI. Representing the shoes in which Mike won his first and fourth NBA championships, the DMP remains highly sought after.

47. Air Jordan Retro VI "DMP"

46. Air Jordan Retro V “Tokyo”

Original Release: 2011

Designed for the Tokyo23 tournament at Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park, these yellow nubuck Air Jordan Retro Vs were bright, distinctive, and nearly impossible to find outside of Japan. The embroidery on the heel — well, you figure it out.

46. Air Jordan Retro V "Tokyo"

45. Air Jordan XIII “White/Black/Red”

Original Release: 1998

As legend has it, Tinker Hatfield designed the Air Jordan XIII with a “black cat” theme not knowing it was Jordan’s nickname. Seems difficult to believe, considering the amount of time the two spent together talking over anything and everything, but whatever the case it makes for a good story. The initial colorway emphasized the “golf ball” dimples in the upper, as well as the “23” that’s visible when the shoes are viewed from the rear.

45. Air Jordan XIII "White/Black/Red"

44. Air Jordan Retro IV LS “Lightning”

Original Release: 2006

Brother to the “Thunder” and ancestor to the “Tokyo” V, the yellow nubuck “Lightning” IV also came as part of a package (although, with just a t-shirt, it was half the price of the “Thunder) and represented Michael’s motorcycle team. These are not subtle.

44. Air Jordan Retro IV LS "Lightning"

43. Air Jordan VII “Bordeaux”

Original Release: 1992

One of the original “Hare Jordan” VII releases, the Bordeauxs utilized nubuck on their soft, minimalist upper, and a tribal-based pattern on the neoprene bootie. Tinker Hatfield’s Huarache concept with a luxurious tweak.

43. Air Jordan VII "Bordeaux"

42. Air Jordan IX “White/Black/Red”

Original Release: 1994

Maybe it was strange timing, what with Mike retired and all, but the Air Jordan IX was meant to celebrate his rise to global icon. Messages were spelled out in multiple languages on the outsole, and the Jumpman over a globe on the heel left little to the imagination. The shoe itself was simple, harkening back to the days of the Air Jordan II, with a basic black and white upper with red accents. Do what works.

42. Air Jordan IX "White/Black/Red"

41. Air Jordan X “Chicago”

Original Release: 1995

What started as wishful thinking became prophecy. The “Chicago” Air Jordan X was worn in Miami of all places, by Harold “Baby Jordan” Miner of all people, until Michael Jordan declared his self-imposed exile over via a two-word fax: “I’M BACK.” Jordan went on to wear No. 45 and drop a double nickel on the New York Knicks at the Garden, much to Spike Lee’s chagrin.

41. Air Jordan X "Chicago"

40. Air Jordan XIII “Black/Red”

Original Release: 1998

When the Bulls laced up their black shoes, you were in trouble. It didn’t matter who you were, or what your regular-season record was — that was all out the window. By the time Mike was in the Air Jordan XIII, he’d won five championships, and nothing was going to keep him

40. Air Jordan XIII "Black/Red"

39. Air Jordan 1 “White/Grey”

Original Release: 1985

The “white/natural” makeup was a popular one for Nike in the ’80s, and even the flamboyant Air Jordan wore it well. Because while Nike could well afford to pay the $5,000 fines Michael took from the NBA for wearing his black and red pair, everyone wasn’t so fortunate. This way you had the best of both worlds — Air Jordan mystique in a plain wrapper.

39. Air Jordan 1 "White/Grey"

38. Air Jordan II “White/Red”

Original Release: 1987

Sports Illustrated dedicated an entire sidebar to Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan IIs — headlined “Leapin’ Lizards” in reference to both the faux iguana side panels and the then-startling $100 retail price. Made in Italy, the Air Jordan II represented the pinnacle of luxury sports, Gucci in everything but name. Take that, Dapper Dan.

38. Air Jordan II "White/Red"

37. Air Jordan XII “Obsidian”

Original Release: 1997

It’s sort of surprising Michael Jordan didn’t wear these in the 1997 All-Star Game and save the black and white pair for the playoffs, but maybe he didn’t want to be seen in Blue Devils colors. But even without Mike providing on-court support, the Obsidians went on to become one of the most-beloved XIIs. Go figure

37. Air Jordan XII "Obsidian"

36. Air Jordan IV “Military Blue”

Original Release: 1989

It wasn’t the Military Blue that made these as much as it was the mix of white and light grey on the upper. Released when non-Bulls color Jordans were still something of a novelty — and late in the IV release schedule — the Militarys weren’t fully appreciated until they were long gone

36. Air Jordan IV "Military Blue"

35. Air Jordan XIV “Last Shot”

Original Release: 1999

One can only imagine the horrified look on the faces of Jordan and Nike employees when Michael Jordan took to the court in these black/red Air Jordan XIVs months before they were scheduled to release. And one would imagine those expressions of horror turned to joy as Jordan ended the game — and the series — with one of the most iconic shots in NBA history.

35. Air Jordan XIV "Last Shot"

34. Air Jordan XII “Flu Game”

Original Release: 1997

We’re not talking about the nubuck retros here, but the full-grain leather originals. These should rightly be considered the “Playoff” XIIs, but to avoid confusion (and create new confusion) we won’t do that. The bottom line is this, though — what Jordan doesn’t look great in black and red?

34. Air Jordan XII "Flu Game"

33. Air Jordan VIII “Black/Red”

Original Release: 1993

By 1993, Nike must have realized that Jordan would need a playoffs/Finals shoe every year. The Air Jordan VIII was the mullet of Jordans — all-black business in the front, multicolored party in the back — built with everything except the kitchen sink. Didn’t seem to slow Mike any, though.

33. Air Jordan VIII "Black/Red"

32. Air Jordan XII “Taxi”

Original Release: 1997

Sometimes the first are the best. The “Taxi” Air Jordan XIIs (named for their black and yellow carbon springplate) featured a basic black and white upper offset by a couple of gold lace loops that provided just the right amount of flash. You’ll have to take our word for it, but even Charles Barkley wore these in a game. Must have lost a bet on the golf course.

32. Air Jordan XII "Taxi"

31. Air Jordan Retro V “Toro Bravo”

Original Release: 2009

The “Toro Bravo” pack consisted of two pairs of Air Jordan Retro Vs, and while the black reflective pair was cool, it was the all-red suede pair that got tongues hanging like MJ’s. All-red Jordans are surprisingly rare — considering the reception of these and the red XX1s, we’re surprised more haven’t cropped up.

31. Air Jordan Retro V "Toro Bravo"

30. Air Jordan IV “Fire Red”

Original Release: 1989

One of just four colorways of Air Jordan IVs released in 1989, the “Fire Red” colorway was later resurrected as the “Mars” Retro IV. We prefer the originals, and not just because they had “Nike Air” on the back.

30. Air Jordan IV "Fire Red"

29. Air Jordan VI “White/Infrared”

Original Release: 1991

“Infrared” was the “Solar Red” of the early ’90s, and it found its way onto many significant Nike releases in ’90 and ’91. And while the black/Infrared Air Jordan VI (we’ll get there) remains the most iconic, the white leather “home” versions weren’t too shabby either. With finger holes in the tongue and a Porsche-inspired “spoiler” on the heel, they were also the easiest Jordans to put on.

29. Air Jordan VI "White/Infrared"

28. Air Jordan VIII “Black/Aqua”

Original Release: 1993

For his first few years in the league, Mike didn’t have a specific All-Star shoe — he just wore whatever the newest color was, or debuted the playoff colorway super early. But by ’93, All-Star was an occasion for a new shoe, and these pastel-accented VIIIs were perfect for the time. That carpet on the tongue, tho.

28. Air Jordan VIII "Black/Aqua"

27. Air Jordan Retro V “Laney”

Original Release: 2000

Despite the fact that he became a highly recruited player who had his pick of colleges, Michael Jordan didn’t have the best memories from his high school days. The story he told most often was of being “cut” from the varsity as a sophomore and being beat out by the decidedly inferior (but taller) Leroy Smith. This slight drove him for years, and perhaps enabled him to grow into the best player ever. In 2000, he finally saw fit to recognize Laney High School with this Air Jordan Retro V done up in Buccaneer colors. It was about time.

27. Air Jordan Retro V "Laney"

26. Air Jordan II “White/Red/Black”

Original Release: 1987

The Air Jordan II was the first real indication that “Air Jordan” was more than just another Nike. Stripping the Swoosh off was a bold move that allowed for a more fashion-forward design that used aesthetic instead of logos to proclaim what it was. It was a tremendous gamble that paid off. Oh, how it paid off.

26. Air Jordan II "White/Red/Black"

25. Air Jordan VII “Hare”

Original Release: 1992

Bugs Bunny’s sneaker of choice, the initial colorway of the Huarache-inspired Air Jordan VII would be forever known as the “Hare Jordan.” This despite the fact that it was the shoe Jordan wore during one of his most successful seasons ever, winning his second NBA title as well as Olympic gold. The white and off-white upper was offset perfectly by the tribal patterns on the neoprene tongue, and a matching pattern on the outsole

25. Air Jordan VII "Hare"

24. Air Jordan 1 “Black Toe”

Original Release: 1985

One of many, many original Air Jordan colorways, the “Black Toe” 1s became highly sought after for their relative rarity. The fact that they were still in traditional Bulls colors eases them into the top 25.

24. Air Jordan 1 "Black Toe"

23. Air Jordan Retro XI “Cool Grey”

Original Release: 2001

Theoretically, an all-grey sneaker should be an absolute snoozefest. Good thing the people at Jordan don’t pay attention to theories. The “Cool Grey” Air Jordan Retro XI was an immediate smash, and set off a whole slew of “Cool Grey” and “Wolf Grey” Air Jordan iterations. Not to mention the contrasting greys on the upper actually looked amazing

23. Air Jordan Retro XI "Cool Grey"

22. Air Jordan III “Fire Red”

Original Release: 1988

Contrasts made this shoe a banger. From the dark elephant print on the tongue and heel to the light grey under the lace loops to the red accents on the midsole, heel and eyelets, the “Fire Red” Air Jordan III made perfect use of Tinker Hatfield’s flawless design. While not as iconic or groundbreaking as the initial versions, it remains an all-timer.

22. Air Jordan III "Fire Red"

21. Air Jordan XI “Columbia”

Original release: 1996

What better shoe for Mike to wear in his comeback All-Star game than some gleaming white patent leather joints? The polar opposite of the black and aqua VIIIs he wore in ’93, a lot had changed in three short years. You can thank Tinker Hatfield for that.

21. Air Jordan XI "Columbia"

20. Air Jordan 1 “Black/Royal”

Original Release: 1985

Other than the classic Bulls colors, the black/royal Air Jordan I probably remains the most popular. It could be because they were one of the few OG colorways to be retroed, but it’s also that the mix of two dark solid colors over a white midsole just looks so good. Like Dunks with something extra.

20. Air Jordan 1 "Black/Royal"

19. Air Jordan V “Black/Metallic Silver”

Original Release: 1989

Black shoes with clear plastic mesh on the sides, a reflective tongue and a transparent outsole with a red Jumpman underneath? Tinker Hatfield wasn’t going for subtle. He took inspiration from the P-51 Mustang fighter plane for the design, then added pure performance innovation including that sticky outsole, ventilation in the side panels, and assymetrical ankle collars. The tongue? That was all for the flashes. Smile.

19. Air Jordan V "Black/Metallic Silver"

18. Air Jordan III “True Blue”

Original Release: 1988

While the Air Jordan II stuck to Bulls colors, the groundbreaking Air Jordan III had no such restrictions. Pros weren’t welcome in international play in ’88 — Jordan’s Olympic career was presumably over after winning gold in ’84 — but the “True Blue” IIIs, with their red and blue accents, would have been perfect for Seoul. The elephant print under the lace loops was either too much or just enough.

18. Air Jordan III "True Blue"

17. Air Jordan V “White/Black/Red”

Original Release: 1990

White leather uppers with a black midsole were a Jordan trademark of sorts, and the Air Jordan V took it to a whole new level with clear rubber on the outsoles and a reflective tongue featuring the Jumpman logo. In addition, the Vs came with lace locks that were better for off-court use than on

17. Air Jordan V "White/Black/Red"

16. Air Jordan Retro VI “Olympic”

Original Release: 2000

By 2000, pros were firmly entrenched in the Olympics, and players were perfectly comfortable playing in 20-year-old styles. Hence the Olympic Air Jordan Retro VI, which utilized Carmine-style colorblocking and a full leather (as opposed to nubuck or suede) upper. The U.S. men took gold, Vince Carter leapt over some seven-foot French guy, and another Air Jordan entered the pantheon.

16. Air Jordan Retro VI "Olympic"

15. Air Jordan V “Fire Red”

Original Release: 1990

Sneaker blogs were a distant dream in 1990, as was League Pass and HDTV. Sneaker obsessives had to do what they could with grainy newspaper photos, WGN telecasts and issues of Sports Illustrated. But you didn’t need to look at much to realize that Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan Vs had “23” embroidered on the sides. Cool. So when this pair dropped, minus the reflective tongue but with the “23” embroidery, you could be like Mike. Groundbreaking.

15. Air Jordan V "Fire Red"

14. Air Jordan IV “White/Cement”

Original Release: 1989

Even if Buggin’ Out didn’t get his foot run over by a bike-wielding Celtics fan, the white/cement Air Jordan IVs would have been legendary. Spike Lee had already done his part as Mars Blackmon, and by 1989 the Air Jordan was firmly entrenched as a status symbol, both urban and suburban. And Tinker Hatfield’s second Air Jordan design was as groundbreaking as his first, making use of synthetic leather and mesh to make a lighter, more breathable shoe.

14. Air Jordan IV "White/Cement"

13. Air Jordan VII “Olympic”

Original Release: 1992

Save for a few Space Jam samples and Chicago X PEs, the Olympic VIIs were the only Jordan model to feature a number other than 23. This is the least of what makes them amazing. Going into the Barcelona Olympics with the best team ever assembled, Team USA was virtually guaranteed gold — the only question was how much they’d win by (answer: a lot). Nike’s take on Mike’s Air jordan VII made use of lots of red, white and blue — as well as silver accents — but the gold on the midsole and Jumpman represented the only possible outcome.

13. Air Jordan VII "Olympic"

12. Air Jordan Retro XI “Space Jam”

Original Release: 2000

These could rightfully be referred to as the “Nick Andersons,” since MJ first wore them in 1995 during the Bulls playoff series with the Magic. But we understand why it wouldn’t be a good idea — Anderson stripped Jordan with the series on the line, and the Bulls ended up going home early. Maybe making the shoes in Magic colors wasn’t such a good idea. But when they appeared in “Space Jam” in 1996, demand skyrocketed. By the time they released in 2000, all bad luck was forgotten. Well, by most people anyway.

12. Air Jordan Retro XI "Space Jam"

11. Air Jordan VI “Carmine”

Original Release: 1991

Back before everything got retroed, the Carmine Air Jordan VIs were one of the most sought-after Air Jordans of all. Whether it was due to limited production or low demand, there just weren’t many pairs floating around in the early days of eBay. It’s hard to understand now why they wouldn’t have been popular right off the bat — the colorblocking was perfect, and the red/black/white was as Bulls as it got. And MJ even wore them in games. The pedigree is impeccable.

11. Air Jordan VI "Carmine"

10. Air Jordan V “Grape”

Original Release: 1990

When these first dropped in 1990, the names of the colors even sounded cool: “Grape Ice” and “New Emerald.” A lifestyle release before “lifestyle” even existed, the Grapes were the epitome of early-’90s cool. And even then Tinker Hatfield knew how much was too much — the purple tongue with the emerald Jumpman was perfect. No need for reflective.

10. Air Jordan V "Grape"

9. Air Jordan 1 “White/Black/Red”

Original Release: 1985

Nike’s answer to the NBA fines levied for Mike wearing the initial black and red colorway of the original Air Jordan, the white/black/red version may have been even louder than the black/red. No matter — it had enough white to satisfy the front office, but still was quite recognizable, even from the cheap seats. And everyone had to have a pair

9. Air Jordan 1 "White/Black/Red"

8. Air Jordan XI “Concord”

Original Release: 1996

The Air Jordan XI stands as Tinker Hatfield’s greatest achievement. When the rest of Nike assumed Michael Jordan was done with the NBA for good, Hatfield thought otherwise. Told to abandon the Air Jordan, he continued work on what would become the Air Jordan XI, taking inspiration from a lawnmower (for the tough patent leather) and dress shoes alike. And when higher-ups balked at the style, he invoked the name of MJ himself, telling them they could take it up with him. They didn’t. Thankfully. For them.

8. Air Jordan XI "Concord"

7. Air Jordan VI “Infrared”

Original Release: 1991

They say you never forget your first, so it’s no surprise that the sneaker MJ wore while winning his first NBA championship (and Finals MVP) cracks the top 10. Even if he didn’t, though, the all black nubuck Air Jordan VI with its bright Infrared accents and translucent outsole was a winner all by itself. And the Porsche Turbo inspired rear “wing” ushered in a whole era of car-inspired basketball shoes that’s still going strong 20-odd years later.

7. Air Jordan VI "Infrared"

6. Air Jordan IV “Black/Cement”

Original Release: 1989

The highest Michael Jordan ever jumped wasn’t on a dunk or a jumper, but in his first celebratory leap following his game-winning shot over Craig Ehlo in Cleveland. With that one shot he elevated the Bulls and devastated the Cavaliers, who would never be quite the same. The black Air Jordan had become iconic the year before; this elevated it to a whole other level.

6. Air Jordan IV "Black/Cement"

5. Air Jordan III “White/Cement”

Original Release: 1988

How do you top faux iguana? Faux elephant, of course. The Italian-made Air Jordan II blurred the line between sports and luxury, the Air Jordan III erased it entirely. A 3/4 cut shoe that was equally at home on or off the court, the Air Jordan III was the first Air Jordan to feature Visible Air as well as the first to be hawked by brash Brooklyn pitchman Mars Blackmon. The Air Jordan II was a shoe; the Air Jordan III was a movement. That’s the truth.

5. Air Jordan III "White/Cement"

4. Air Jordan Retro IV “UNDFTD”

Original Release: 2005

We know — what the heck is a retro release, let alone one that only sold by raffle, doing this high? Well, the UNDFTD IV isn’t just any retro release. The flight jacket inpiration was executed flawlessly, complementing Tinker Hatfield’s original design (and playing off the “Flight” concept). The colors were perfect, the removable tongue patches genius. If you have a pair of these, consider yourself very lucky. Or send them to us.

4. Air Jordan Retro IV "UNDFTD"

3. Air Jordan XI “Black/Red”

Original Release: 1996

The ultimate Air Jordan for the ultimate time in the ultimate season. Make no mistake, the Air Jordan XI was a weapon, and Michael Jordan was surgical with that bitch. The all-black upper indicated it was winnin’ time, and the translucent red outsole was all defenders saw as he slashed to the rim again and again. The Concords may have shown off the design best, but the black/red XIs represented all Michael and the Bulls stood for.

3. Air Jordan XI "Black/Red"

2. Air Jordan 1 “Black/Red”

Original Release: 1985

The original Air Jordan was Nike’s biggest gamble — placing the future of their basketball business (if not the entire company) on the shoulders of a No. 3 pick from North Carolina who dreamed of wearing adidas. In order to lock Michael Jordan down, Nike promised him the world, including his own distinctive line and royalties paid from each pair sold. David Falk, Rob Strasser, Phil Knight and Sonny Vaccaro hashed out the details, Peter Moore drew up the ball and wings logo, and Nike sold an awful lot of shoes. The term “game changer” just may not be strong enough.

2. Air Jordan 1 "Black/Red"

1. Air Jordan III “Black/Cement”

Original Release: 1988

No hyperbole, it was the shoe that saved Nike. Designed by a former Nike architect named Tinker Hatfield, the Air Jordan III kept Michael Jordan with Nike when much of his original team had left, and turned an entire industry upside-down. Hatfield had the strange idea of incorporating an athlete’s personality into his shoes — making a signature shoe more than just a shoe with a signature on it — an idea that would change forever the relationship between athlete and brand. Even today, the black/cement III retains the perfect balance between tech and style, performance and appearance. The best there ever was, the best there ever will be

1. Air Jordan III "Black/Cement"

 

 

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13 thoughts on “THE 100 BEST AIR JORDANS OF ALL TIME

  1. I would like to know how do I go about purchasing the Air jordan x UNC’s,also the Air jordan 1 Royal/Black?

  2. After spending a night in the freezing cold this past weekend for the Air Jordan “Grapes” 5’s second retro release, it was this list that reminded myself, and other sneakerheads alike, WHY WE DO SUCH PREPOSTEROUS THINGS. Needless to say, I am genuinely impressed with the THOROUGHNESS of the list. I minimized my cpu screen and started at #100, leaving just enough room to descendingly read each shoe caption – I could hardly contain the excitement as I counted down in anticipation. I raised my hands in sheer joy when discovering the “Black/Cement” 3’s, a sneaker in which I’ve always coveted, hailed as NUMBER ONE. And although I felt some shoes should have been ranked higher than others, I thought the descriptiveness, research, and overall insight on each pair was accurate. Well done guys, well done… “e”

  3. Michael Jordan I am your biggest fan my name is Shawn .Michael Jordan your my roll matll my mom won’t let me have any of your shoes beause I get in allot of trouble over your shoes . I only have one pair of your. If you get this please contact me at 6130809

  4. Grapes shouldn’t even be near the top 80 Jordans………honestly they’re one of the worst Jordans made…
    just my opinion though.

  5. jordan 3 true blues…..number 18 on this list…should be number 1….but the original color is number 1 so i can deal with that…

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