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Ranking the Top 10 Air Jordans of All Time

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Regardless of what Yeezy says, no one will ever jump over the Jumpman. The first Air Jordans bursted onto the scene in 1985, capturing the hearts and wallets of sneakerheads ever since. Despite Michael Jordan retiring nearly a decade and a half ago, he still holds the crown for the highest selling basketball shoe. However, the Air Jordans true unsung hero is none other than Nike designer Tinker Hatfield. Hatfield’s designs have transcended decades and thanks to retro releases Nike and Mike’s pockets only seem to grow bigger. So without further ado, let’s breakdown some of the most iconic Air Jordans of All Time.

#10. Air Jordan 13

Air Jordan 13 “He Got Game”. (Photo courtesy of Flight Club)

Jesus Shuttlesworth. Those are the first two words that come to mind when I see the Air Jordan 13. The Air Jordan 13 was famously worn by NBA Legend Ray Allen while he was performing as Jesus Shuttlesworth in Spike Lee’s film He Got Game. The shoes feature a tumbled leather upper, while the midsole has a nice suede that wraps around the pod-shaped outsole of the shoe. This sneaker also has a unique green circle that houses the Jumpman logo. the circle is to resemble the eye of the “Black Cat” which was one of MJ’s many different nicknames. This Air Jordan first debuted in 1997 and has some of my favorite colorways ever. Some of my favorite 13’s are the Breds (Black/True Red) , Flints (French Blue/ Flint Grey), and the holy grail Ray Allen Player Exclusives (White/Clover).

#9. Air Jordan 5

Air Jordan 5 “Fire Red”. (Photo courtesy of Complex)

The Jordan 5 provides the ultimate ankle support. It features a large, reflective, padded tongue and sock liner to keep your foot locked in place and prevent any ankle injuries. These shoes were also famously worn by 90’s legend Will Smith during an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The Air Jordan 5 features a drop shadow 23 on the side panel and has the first translucent sole. It’s also the first time a lace lock was introduced to an Air Jordan and was one of the only shoes to have one. Tinker Hatfield was inspired by the design of the WW2 fighter planes and he chose to use a shark teeth like design on the midsole. Some of my favorite Air Jordan 5 colorways are the DMP Raging Bulls (Black/Varsity Red), Grapes (White/Grape-Ice-New-Emerald) and Bel Air Fresh Prince (Cool Grey/Club Pink-Court Purple-Game Royal).

#8. Air Jordan 7

Air Jordan 7 “Olympic” (Photo courtesy of Flight Club)

The Air Jordan 7’s are most famously remembered by the 1992 Dream Team. Michael Jordan and the Dream Team famously dominated the 1992 Olympic games and were labeled one of if not THE greatest teams ever. The Air Jordan 7’s in my opinion is one of the most underappreciated Air Jordan models. The shoe boasts a leather base, a triangular overlay and triangular midsole. Below the pull tab features Jordan’s iconic 23. However, on the Olympic model it features his USA Olympic number– 9. Famous Looney Toon Bugs Bunny famously advertised these shoes and was referred to as “Hare Jordan”. My favorite Air Jordan 7 colorways are the Bordeaux’s (Black/Light Graphite-Bordeaux), Raptor’s (Black/True Red), and Miro’s (White/Metallic Gold-Sport Red-Black).

#7. Air Jordan 14

Air Jordan 14 “Candy Cane”. (Photo courtesy of Flight Club)

The Air Jordan 14 debuted during the 1997-1998 NBA season and was the last signature shoe Michael Jordan wore before he retired (the 2nd time). This shoe was made famous by Mike during the NBA Finals when he hit “The Last Shot” over Utah Forward Byron Russell. MJ won his 6th and final NBA Championship in the Air Jordan 14 and the 14 is largely considered by sneakerheads as the last great Air Jordan model from Nike. The design of the 14 was inspired by MJ’s love of Italian cars such as the Ferrari. The sleek and almost aerodynamic design has a leather base, Ferrari styled Jumpman logo, and a beautiful carbon fiber midsole. My favorite Air Jordan 14 colorways are the Last Shots (Black/Black-Varsity Red), Ferraris (Challenge Red/Black-Vibrant Yellow), and UNC’s (White/Black-Carolina Blue).

#6. Air Jordan 12

Air Jordan 12 “Cherry”. (Photo courtesy of Flight Club)

Michael Jordan captured his 5th NBA championship in the Air Jordan 12’s. The 12’s are most famously known for being the shoes MJ wore during the famous “Flu Game” against the Utah Jazz in game 5. Despite Jordan looking visibly ill and needing assistance from Scottie Pippen, MJ still managed to play 44 minutes and post 38 points in a critical Game 5 victory. The Air Jordan 12 has a tumbled leather base and snakeskin style midsole. The sole underneath also features carbon fiber and superior traction. My favorite Air Jordan 12 colorways are the Flu Games (Black/Varsity Red), playoffs (Black/Varsity Red-White-Metallic Silver), and the French Blues (White/French Blue-Metallic Silver-Varsity Red).

#5. Air Jordan 6

Air Jordan 6 “White Infrared”. (Photo courtesy of Flight Club)

Michael Jordan won his very first NBA Championship during the 1990-1991 season in the Air Jordan 6. Jordan and company finally turned the lights out on the “Showtime” Lakers during the NBA Finals in just five games. The Air Jordan 6 borrows the lace lock from the previous model and also shows an overlay similar of the Air Jordan 7 that we would see next season. This model also offers much ventilation and has one of the larger pull tabs located in the rear of the sneaker. The Air Jordan 6 incorporates the Nike Air technology and truly shows us a combination of the Air Jordan 5 and Air Jordan 7. My favorite Air Jordan 6 colorways are the Black Infrareds (Black/Infrared), Carmines (White/Carmine-Black), and Olympics (White/Midnight Navy-Varsity Red).

#4. Air Jordan 4

Air Jordan 4 “Fire Red”. (Photo courtesy of sneakerbardetroit.com)

Okay, now this is where the list got really hard. You could take these last four and put them in any order and I wouldn’t disagree with you. When these shoes hit the court in 1988 they were doing battle against the “Bad Boy” Pistons. Jordan struggled during the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the very physical Detroit Pistons who defeated MJ’s Bulls in just 5 games. The Air Jordan 4 has a smooth leather base and also breaks out the “netting” type insulation on the sneaker. Once again the Nike Air provides adequate support to the wearer and the pull tab offers a unique flat shape on the back of the shoe. My favorite Air Jordan 4 colorways are the Military Blues (Off White/Military Blue), Lasers (White/Varsity Red-Black), and White Cements (White/Black).

#3. Air Jordan 1

Air Jordan 1 “Chicago”. (Photo courtesy of Flight Club)

The one that started it all. I had a hard time debating with myself to put this #1 on my list. Michael Jordan and Nike changed the landscape of footwear and basketball forever in 1984. David Stern famously banned the prototype Black and Red Air Jordan 1 for not having enough white on them (sounds ridiculous, but its true!). Nike eventually came up with the Air Jordan 1 “Chicago” (pictured above) to suit the Commissioner’s ridiculous rule. The Air Jordan 1 is essentially a Nike Dunk with the original Air Jordan winged logo. These sneakers have a wide and leather base. This is also the only Air Jordan on this list that features the iconic Nike Swoosh. My favorite Air Jordan 1 colorways are the Banned (Black/Red), Royals (Black/Game Royal-Black), and the UNC Off-Whites (White/University Blue).

#2. Air Jordan 3

Air Jordan 3 “White Cement”. (Photo courtesy of Flight Club)

The Air Jordan 3 is one of the most iconic models in Air Jordan history. Jordan made these famous during the 1988 Dunk Contest when His Airness took off from the free throw line and dunked it a la Julius Erving style. The Air Jordan 3 was a shoe that had a lot of firsts. It was the first shoe to have the beautiful elephant print, Nike air, and also introduced the world to the most iconic basketball logo ever; The Jumpman. The tumbled leather on this shoe and elephant print midsole gave this sneaker some much needed swag unlike the dreadful Air Jordan 2 that came before it. My favorite Air Jordan 3 colorways are the Black Cements (Black/Cement Grey), White Cements (pictured above), and the True Blues (White/True Blue).

#1. Air Jordan 11

Jordan 11 “Concord” (photo courtesy of sneakerglossary.com)

Here we are, number one on the list, the greatest shoe EVER made. The Air Jordan 11. The Air Jordan 11 was Tinker Hatfield’s crowning jewel during his tenure with Nike. The Air Jordan 11 was first introduced to the world through one of the greatest movies ever in Space Jam. His Airness joined forces with Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Toons to take on the talent stealing Monstars. MJ would take off from HALF COURT in the Air Jordan 11 “Space Jams” and dunk the ball despite being fouled by several Monstars to lead the Tune Squad to a win and save Earth from those extraterrestrial beings. OK, now if I can be serious for a moment. The Air Jordan 11 is the ultimate shoe when it comes to comfort and style. Everything from the mesh upper to the leather base and the B-E-A-U tiful patent leather. The shoes looks just as good on the bottom as it does on top. The bottom features an icy sole with a carbon fiber plate. My favorite Jordan 11 colorways are the Concords (pictured above), Playoffs (Black/Red), and the iconic Space Jams (Black/Varsity Royal-White). When I die, bury me in my 11’s.

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About Darrien Null

Hometown: Strasburg, PA. Contributor for Sixers Lead.

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