In 1985, a partnership between Michael Jordan and Nike changed the athletic apparel culture forever with the release of the first pair of Air Jordan sneakers. Fast forward about 30 years later and the Jordan Brand has become one of the most iconic athletic brands ever. MJ is the most marketable athlete in our lifetime and his legacy has impacted every athlete in some form or another.
Every kid in America in the ’80s and ’90s wanted to be like MJ and the closest thing to being like him was putting on a fresh pair of his kicks. A pair of Js was hands down the best gift for Christmas every year under the tree. Re-releases of the sneakers have kept the momentum going for the brand and the early kicks are now like fossils that sneakerheads must have.
In honor of His Airness’ birthday yesterday, we ranked every signature Air Jordan sneaker in order. This is possibly the hardest list to ever rank–feel free to comment and make some suggestions to the list.
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28. Air Jordan 2010
This is probably my least favorite Jordan sneaker of all-time because I didn’t feel like it belonged mentioned along with all of the other sneakers. The shoe was created as a symbol of Jordan passing down the torch to the new generation of stars such as D-Wade, who endorsed the shoe during the 2010 season.
Notable Colorway: Black/Varsity Red-White
27. Air Jordan XX2 (2007)
The 22nd installment in the Jordan line was released in 2007. The shoe drew inspiration from an F-22 Raptor fighter jet. The camo pattern toward the end of the shoe and the zipper-like lining just did not cut it for me.
Notable Colorway: Black/Varsity Red-Metallic Silver
26. Air Jordan 2011
Air Jordan 2011s were the 26th sneakers in the line and provided a superior focus on court performance and design. The best colorway was the “Year of the Rabbit.” In terms of the Chinese Zodiac, the year MJ was born (1963) and the release year in 2011, were in the Year of the Rabbit.
Notable Colorway: Grey/Red-Gold
25. Air Jordan 2009
The AJ2009 was the start of a new era for the Jordan Brand. It was the 24th Jordan shoe released and Nike decided to pay respect to MJ keeping his “23” legacy significant by retiring the number schemes that we all grew to love. The shoe was built for the future but definitely lacked the “Jordan” feeling with no Jordan logo.
Notable Colorway: White/Metallic Silver/Black
24. Air Jordan XX1 (2006)
I did love the commercial campaign for the 21st installment of Jordan kicks, paying homage to Jordan’s legacy through re-enactments of his famous career highlights. But the shoes, to me, were the first Jordans that started to lack the design features we were accustomed to seeing.
Notable Colorway: White/Black/Red
23. Air Jordan 2012
The AJ2012 was a sneaker for every sneakerhead that likes to experiment and be creative. The greatest sneaker designer, Tinker Hatfield, Michael Jordan’s lead designer for the majority of his shoes, called the sneakers the “most customizable Jordan ever.” The sneakers let players choose which style they wanted, having the ability to transform them into lo-tops or hi-tops.
Notable Colorway: Carolina Blues
22. Jordan XIX (2004)
A year after MJ retired it was time for a new set of NBA players to continue the legacy. The first installment of sneakers after MJ retired for the final time, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Kidd, Gary Payton and Ray Allen were some of the names that endorsed the sneaker during the season. The sneakers main attribute was no laces.
Notable Colorway: White/red