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Best jordans of all time feature

25 Best Jordans Of All Time

When it comes to basketball icons, there is none bigger and better than Michael Jordan. Over 15 seasons in the NBA, Mike catapulted the sport back into popularity after the heyday of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson came to a close. Armed with a trademark flair, style and tongue-out cockiness, MJ was an instant star and fans recognised it. Droves of people travelled across the continent to catch a glimpse of the Chicago Bulls’ number 23 in action and it was always a spectacle. Everyone remembers where they were when Jordan hit that shot in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals. Similarly, they remember the first time they witnessed Air Jordan dunk from the free thrown line. Or maybe it was the time he joined a band of misfit players to defeat a team of genetically modified alien beings to save Earth from complete annihilation. There truly is nothing Michael Jordan hasn’t achieved on the court.

But it is his appeal off the court that is most notable. Even now, more than 15 years after he retired (for the third time no less), Michael Jordan’s legacy remains unequalled. His GOAT status was confirmed when the ESPN documentary The Last Dance premiered and more than 6.1 million viewers tuned in to episodes 1 and 2 to see Jordan tell the story of his incredible career, making it the most successful documentary in the network’s history at the time. And while MJ is certainly the leader of the series, some colourful co-stars threatened to steal the limelight. No, not Charles Oakley or Dennis Rodman, but a slew of castmates that offer more than their fair share of eye-catching moments; his shoes. Or more accurately, his Air Jordans.

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Best jordans of all time

Image: Nike/ Michael wearing the Jordan II

Air Jordan History

Way back in 1985, before he was the greatest, Michael Jordan was a skinny kid from the University of North Carolina. Taken pick three in that year’s draft, Jordan was expected to produce big things, both on and off the court. He signed a five-year endorsement deal with Nike, worth reportedly $2.5 million (plus royalties). While it sounds like peanuts compared to the monstrous paychecks athletes receive now, it bears reminding that this was 1985 and the player in question had yet to play a game, let alone prove his worth. But this was no ordinary rookie.

Over the course of the season, Mike dominated, finishing as the Rookie of the Year, but amongst the fans, he was MVP. His signature tongue-out play style and youthful arrogance were the perfect blend of Johnson’s speed and athleticism and Bird’s skill and shooting, all wrapped up in a stylish package. Nike’s Peter Moore was responsible for the new kid’s kicks and much like the rookie himself, they didn’t disappoint. The first Jordan shoes, aptly named the Air Jordan 1 was as visually stunning as they were ground-breaking. And to this day, they remain one of the most popular Jordans ever.

The first in the series to feature the familiar Nike Swoosh logo. And predating the Jumpman logo, the OG shoe featured the Wings logo – a basketball with wings stretching from both sides and “Air Jordan” printed above the ball. Basketball folklore will tell you that the Jordan 1 was originally banned by the NBA, but that’s not entirely true. A prototype Red and Black Air colourway, known as the Nike Air Ship was banned by NBA commissioner David Stern for breaching the ’51 per cent rule,’ which dictated that footwear must be majority white.

As the famous story goes, the ban and subsequent $5,000 per game fine didn’t stop MJ from wearing the Air Jordan 1 on-court. Nike recognised the unique marketing opportunity, opting to pay the fine for each time Michael Jordan wore the shoes in-game. Thus, the bad boy, a rule-breaking ethos of the Air Jordans was born.

Michael wearing jordan 3

Image: Nike/ Michael wearing the Jordan III

Unpacking the Air Jordan Design

Following the unprecedented success of the first shoe, Nike was faced with a challenge to back it up. The Air Jordan II was released in 1986, however, it was in 1988 that Air Jordans got their own real identity. Architect turned designer Tinker Hatfield dropped the Nike Swoosh and added the now-famous ‘Jumpman’ logo, moving the sneakers from just a basketball shoe to a streetwear staple.

The best Air Jordans all share common design elements, most of which come from long-time collaborator and designer Tinker Hatfield.

  • Air-Sole – The visible Air-Sole unit under the heel became an icon for Air Jordans – particularly the Jordan III. It retained Nike’s “Air” embroidery on the heel, encapsulated Air in the forefoot, and a polyurethane midsole for cushioning.
  • Offset ankle collar – First introduced in Jordan V, the offset ankle collar was integrated to boost support while offering flexibility where a player needed it most.
  • Patent leather – The Air Jordans were the first basketball ball shoe to introduce patent leather, reportedly at the instruction of Michael Jordan who desired a basketball shoe that could be worn with a suit.
Michael jordan with jordan 1 sneaker

Image: Nike/ Michael hanging with the Jordan I

The Best Jordans of All Time

Since they were first released back in 1985, there’s been a wealth of new lines introduced to the most popular Jordans silhouettes. Which pair do you need in your collection? Jump on these quickly before they sell out.

Here is a list of the best Jordans of all time.

og jordans chicago 1985

Image: StockX

1. Jordan 1 Chicago

Undoubtedly the most popular and best Jordans of all time, the Air Jordan 1 Retro Chicago are a collector’s dream. Last released in 2015, Air Jordan 1 High Chicago Reimagined Full Details, but don’t expect it to be easy to come by because this iconic silhouette has become a staple for street ballers and basketball fans. Since premiering on The Last Dance, the Chicago colourway has skyrocketed in popularity, but you can still get your hands on a pair if you have cash to the tune of $4000 AUD.

Years released: 1985, 1994, 2013, 2015
Colourway: White/Varsity Red-Black
Insole material: Foam
Cushioning: Maximum
Outsole material: Rubber
Shoe shaft style: High Top

Buy it here (1985) Buy it here (1994) Buy it here (2013) Buy it here (2015)

og jordans 3 retro black cement 1994

Image: StockX

2. Jordan 3 Black Cement

Back in 2018, the infamous Jordan 3 Retro OG ushered in a new era for the brand. It was the first time the original ‘Nike Air” branding was featured on the Black Cement since its 2001 incarnation. These iconic, elephant-print emblazoned sneakers were released on His Airness’ 55th birthday, so there’s a little celebration with every pair. Without a doubt, one of the best looking jordans money can buy.

Years released: 1988, 1994, 2001, 2008 (CDP), 2011, 2018
Colourway: Black/Fire Red-Cement
Cushioning: Maximum
Upper material: Leather
Shoe shaft style: Mid Top

Buy it here (1994) Buy it here (2001) Buy it here (2008) Buy it here (2011) Buy it here (2018)

Jordan 5 retro fire red silver tongue 2020

Image: StockX

3. Jordan 5 Fire Red

It might not look like it, but the 5 Fire Red Retro OG is one of the newest pieces in the Air Jordan portfolio. The retro design was released in early 2020 as part of the silhouette’s 30th anniversary. This variation is essentially identical to the OG pair from 1990, featuring smooth white leather construction on the upper and a fierce black midsole with Fire Red shark teeth to make it one of the most popular Jordans of all time.

Years released: 1990, 2000, 2008, 2013, 2020
Colourway: White/Fire Red-Black
Insole material: Foam
Cushioning: Maximum
Outsole material: Rubber
Shoe shaft style: High Top

Buy it here (2000) Buy it here (2008) Buy it here (2013) Buy it here (2020)

og jordans 4 retro bred 2019

Image: StockX

4. Jordan 4 ‘Bred’ Black Cement

They say a classic never dies, and the Air Jordan 4 is one example of true longevity. The ‘Black Cement or Bred 4, comes with a red sole, black upper plus grey accents, white midsole plus black, with white and grey accents. While chunky compared to more modern designs, you can’t deny this is one of the best looking Jordans ever created.

Years released: 1989, 1999, 2008, 2012, 2019
Colourway: Black/Cement Grey-Summit White-Fire Red
Shoe shaft style: High Top

Buy it here (1989) Buy it here (1999) Buy it here (2008) Buy it here (2012) Buy it here (2019)

Jordan 11 retro concord 2018

Image: StockX

5. Jordan 11 Concord

Way back in 1995, Michael Jordan stepped onto the court and into sneaker history with this now iconic pair of Air Jordan XIs. At the time, the never-before-seen silhouette was groundbreaking, with its patent leather upper and translucent sole. More than 30 years on, the Concord XI is still referred to as one of the best Air Jordan shoes ever and thanks to the number 45 at the heel, also one of the biggest collector items.

Years released: 1995, 2006, 2011, 2018
Colourway: White/Black-Concord
Cushioning: Maximum
Shoe shaft style: High Top

Buy it here (1995) Buy it here (2006) Buy it here (2011) Buy it here (2018)

Jordan 6 retro black infrared 2019

Image: StockX

6. Jordan 6 Black Infrared

INFRARED is pretty much the ultimate Air Jordan sneaker colour, and the Jordan 6 INFRARED pair features a black upper, black midsole plus red accents, and a translucent sole. Not only is this one of the most popular Jordans it’s also the shoe MJ wore when he won his first championship in 1991, averaging 31.2 points, 11.4 assists, and 6.6 rebounds per game in the finals. GOAT status.

Years released: 1991, 2000, 2010, 2014, 2019
Colourway: Black/Infrared
Cushioning: Maximum
Shoe shaft style: High Top

Buy it here (1991) Buy it here (2000) Buy it here (2010) Buy it here (2014) Buy it here (2019)

Jordan 1 retro high pine green

Image: StockX

7. Jordan 1 Retro High Pine Green

Expanding the “Black Toe” lineup, these Pine Green Retro high tops aren’t just one of the best Air Jordan sneakers ever made, they’re probably the only ones that Celtics fans can embrace. The upper of this Jordan 1 Retro High is constructed from white tumbled leather. A black leather Swoosh, sail midsole, and pine green outsole complete this design.

Years released: 2018, 2020 (slight variations)
Upper material: Leather
Colourway: Pine green
Outsole material: Rubber
Shoe shaft style: High Top

Buy it here (2018) Buy it here (2020)

Jordan 3 retro unc 2020

Image: StockX

8. Air Jordan 3 Retro UNC

The 2020 edition of these classic J’s features a white tumbled leather upper with grey elephant print mudguards and valor blue detailing. These once rare Air Jordans sport a former Player-Exclusive colourway for students at the University of North Carolina, however, in recent years the colourway has been opened to the public so expect to pay around $600 AUD.

Years released: 2018, 2020
Upper material: Leather
Colourway: White/Valor Blue-Tech Grey
Shoe shaft style: Mid Top

Buy it here (2018) Buy it here (2020)

Jordan 11 retro playoffs bred 2019

Image: StockX

9. Jordan 11 Bred Playoffs

First worn on NBA courts back in April 1996, the AJ11 Bred is playoff-ready and one of the most popular Jordans money can buy. This variation is the 2019 edition, which marked the first release for the style in seven years. The footwear ranks high on MJ’s grails and is undoubtedly one of the best Air Jordan shoes of all time.

Years released: 1995, 2001, 2008, 2012, 2019
Upper material: Patent leather
Outsole material: Rubber
Colourway: Black/True Red-White

Buy it here (1995) Buy it here (2001) Buy it here (2008) Buy it here (2012) Buy it here (2019)

Jordan 4 retro what the

Image: StockX

10. Air Jordan 4 Retro What The

Released for His Airness’s 30th anniversary, the special-edition “What The” colourway is one of the best looking Jordans of all time. This blue AJ4 features colour blocking in a mix of White/Cement, Military Blue, Fire Red, and Black/Cement. All topped off with ‘Nike Air’ branding on the heel tabs.

Year: 2019
Upper material: Leather
Outsole material: Rubber
Colourway: White/Fire Red-Tech Grey-Military Blue

Buy it here

Jordan 1 retro high shadow 2018

Image: StockX

11. Jordan 1 Retro High Shadow

Having only hit shelves three times in the brands 30-year history, the OG Shadow is a must-have for collectors and one of the best Air Jordans of all time. The footwear features a black and grey leather upper with original “Nike Air” branding on the tongue tag and insoles.

Years released: 2009, 2013, 2018
Upper material: Leather
Colourway: Black/Medium Grey-White

Buy it here (2009) Buy it here (2013) Buy it here (2018)

Jordan 1 retro shattered backboard

Image: StockX

12. Air Jordan 1 Retro Shattered Backboard

Inspired by the orange and black jersey that Michael Jordan wore when he shattered a backboard in an Italian exhibition game in 1986, this Air Jordan 1 shattered backboard is one of the rarest Air Jordan 1 models money can buy. A deadstock pair will set you back more than $2000 AUD.

Year: 2015
Upper material: Leather
Colourway: Black/Pale Vanilla Starfish

Buy it here

og jordans

Image: StockX

13. Jordan New Beginnings Pack Retro High 1 & Nike Air Ship

Taking reference from the original Air Ship design that copped flack early on in His Airness’ career, the New Beginnings pack is the ultimate OG Air Jordan collectable. This pack featured the 1984 white/red Air Ship PE with an all-white and red Air Jordan 1 High colourway complete with its OG style hangtag. The perfect shoe to wear to a sneaker convention in our eyes, with plenty to talk about.

Year: 2020
Colourway: White/Red, White

Buy it here

Jordan 4 retro black cat 2020

Image: StockX

14. Jordan 4 Retro Black Cat

Featuring a Black and Light Graphite colour scheme, this take on the classic Air Jordan 4 reminds us of Michael Jordan’s famous ‘Black Cat’ nickname, an idea which s further explored throughout Jordan 13. It cops a full black-based upper with minor hints of grey on the Jumpman Flight tongue tags. It’s worth mentioning here that this is Sneaker Shopping host Joe La Puma’s favourite Jordan of all time, in case you were wondering.

Years released: 2006, 2020
Upper material: Leather
Colourway: Black/Black-Light Graphite

Buy it here (2006) Buy it here (2020)

Jordan 1 retro royal 2017

Image: StockX

15. Air Jordan 1 Retro Royal

Widely known as Mike’s favourite Jordan colourway, the Royal Blue Jordans are part of basketball folklore. First photographed by Chuck Kohn in 1985, the image of MJ wearing the shoes became an instant hit despite the fact that Jordan never wore this retro colourway on the court. Since 1985, these blue Jordans have been released three more times, confirming their status as one of the best Air Jodan sneakers of all time.

Years released: 1985, 2001, 2013, 2017
Upper material: Leather
Colourway: Black/Varsity Royal-White

Buy it here (1985) Buy it here (2001) Buy it here (2013) Buy it here (2017)

Jordan 6 retro dmp 2020

Image: StockX

16. Jordan 6 Retro DMP

Returning again in 2020, the Jordan 6 DMP “Defining Moment” is a sleek black and gold number that bears a striking similarity to the original DMP pack that was first unveiled back in 2006. These Jordan retros hit shelves in April 2020, kicking off a new era for the iconic silhouette.

Years released: 2006, 2020
Colourway: Black/Metallic Gold
Cushioning: Maximum
Shoe shaft style: High Top

Buy it here (2006) Buy it here (2020)

AJ13 retro low chutney

Image: StockX

17. Jordan 13 Retro Low Chutney

Putting a spin on the iconic Jordan 13 design, the Chutney isn’t one of the most popular Jordans, but it’s about as cool as they come. The difference between this chutney design and a traditional 13 lies in the cut. These retros replace the classic hightop style with a mid, differentiating it from the traditional design.

Years released: 1998, 2017
Upper material: Leather/ Suede
Colourway: Black/ Chutney

Buy it here (1998) Buy it here (2017)

Jordan 1 retro high dior

Image: StockX

18. Jordan 1 Retro High Dior

The Dior Jordan 1 High is one of the best Air Jordans of all time. Featuring a premium white leather upper paired with wolf grey overlays and a classic Dior logo on the swoosh, this version of the iconic high-top silhouette is a stand-out. The collar has also been altered, stamped with a special ‘Air Dior’ logo. These are also some of the most expensive sneakers ever made, expect to pay around $14,000 AUD.

Year: 2020
Upper material: Leather
Colourway: Wolf Grey/ Sail Photon

Buy it here

AJ3 retro knicks

Image: StockX

19. Jordan 3 Retro Knicks

Another throwback beast, the Jordan 3 Knicks Retro sneakers celebrate MJ’s traditional rival. Having to constantly take on Patrick Ewing and the New York Knicks to secure the Eastern Conference Title was no ordinary task, but as we know now, MJ was no average baller. The ‘Knicks Rivals’ retro stays true to the original silhouette with a white tumbled leather upper, elephant print on the toe cap and heel and a visible Nike Air unit.

Year: 2019
Upper material: Leather
Outsole material: Leather
Colourway: White/Old Royal-University Orange-Tech Grey

Buy it here

Jordan 1 retro high rust pink

Image: StockX

20. Air Jordan 1 Retro High Rust Pink

The Jordan 1 Retro High Rust Pink was released in early 2017, adding a coral ‘Rust Pink’ hue to the two-tone colour blocking seen on other classic AJ1 silhouettes. The black panelling features a premium tumbled leather construction, while the midsole appears in white. These Jordan retros have become one of the most expensive sneakers in the world, and for good reason. This colourway is one of the best looking Jordans money can buy – just ask DJ Khaled.

Year: 11/01/2017
Upper material: Leather
Colourway: White/ Black-rust Pink

Buy it here

AJ5 retro off white black

Image: StockX

21. Jordan 5 Retro Off-White

This shoe pays homage to the first Jordan brand sneaker that the late great Virgil Abloh ever owned, the AJ5 Black Metallic. With trademark flair, Louis Vuitton x Nike Air Force 1 Collection Fetches $25.3 Million with modern Nike Air tech to create a modern classic. Prices at the launch were sitting pretty around the $800 AUD mark but have since skyrocketed in the wake of Virgil’s passing in early 2022.

Year: 2019
Upper material: Synthetic
Outsole material: Leather
Shoe shaft style: High Top
Colourway: Black/Muslin Fire-Red

Buy it here

retro reverse taxi

Image: StockX

22. Air Jordan 12 Retro Reverse Taxi

The Reverse Taxi Air Jordan XII is the polar opposite of its more traditional counterpart. Where the original ‘taxi’ paired white leathers with the famous mudguard, this variation swaps them for textural black nubuck. Whether you’re into it or not, you can’t deny that these are some of the best Air Jordan sneakers we’ve seen for a while.

Year: 2019
Colourway: Black/Black-White-Taxi
Cushioning: Maximum
Shoe shaft style: High Top

Buy it here

retro high spider man origin story

Image: StockX

23. Jordan 1 Retro High Spider-Man Origin Story

If you’ve been asking yourself what Air Jordans Spider-Man would wear, you’re bizarrely in luck. These 2018 Air Jordan I sneakers are designed with old Spidey in mind. The footwear comes with a white upper plus red accents, black Nike “Swoosh”, white midsole, and a translucent sole. A great alternative to the Jordan 1 Chicago that have a cool story attached to them.

Year: 2018
Upper material: Leather
Colourway: Gym-Red/Black-White-Photo Blue

Buy it here Buy it here (special box)

are Jordan mids cool?

Image: StockX

24. Air Jordan 1 Mid Triple White

The Jordan 1 Mid has become a cheap alternative to the Jordan 1 OG High, and no matter how many times you tell us “The Jordan 1s MJ wore were more of a mid-cut than a high,” the more we dislike mids. While it’s one of the most popular Jordans in the game, the Triple White is as crispy as a chicken strip (and about as stylish as wearing one on your feet). This is undoubtedly one of the least desirable Jordans of all time, especially if you get them dirty. Mid’s are. not. cool people, they’re just not!

Years released: 2018, 2019, 2020
Upper material: Leather
Outsole material: Leather
Shoe shaft style: High Top
Colourway: White/White/White

Buy it here (2018) Buy it here (2019) Buy it here (2020)

xxxv dna

Image: StockX

25. Air Jordan XXXV DNA

One of the craziest looking shoes ever created, these should serve as a reminder of how good the old models look to this day. To describe this Jordan as out of this world would serve as an understatement this is one of the ugliest shoes the brand has ever created. But, it’s a ‘performance shoe’, right?! We’d keep these on the court.

Year: 2021

Buy it here

What are the top-selling Jordans?

The Air Jordan Bred 11s are the top-selling Jordans on Ebay, according to North American sales data from 2004 to 2020.

What are the most expensive Jordans ever sold?

The most expensive pair of Air Jordan shoes ever sold were the Air Jordan 12s from MJ’s infamous ‘Flu Game’. The pair he was wearing on the night sold for USD$104,000 at an auction, making them the most expensive air ever sold.

When were the first pair of Jordan’s released?

The Air Jordan 1, designed by Peter Moore was the first pair ever released. The pair first made the appearance in 1985 and were priced at $65.

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Nick Hall

Nick Hall is the Editor-in-Chief of Man of Many and an accomplished journalist. He completed a Bachelor of Creative Industries at the Queensland University of Technology, with a double major in Journalism and Music. Prior to working at Man of Many, Nick spent two years as a journalist with Inside Franchise Business, focusing on small business, finance and legal reporting. In 2021, Nick was named B&T's Best of the Best Journalist of the Year. With an extensive background in the media industry, Nick specialises in feature writing, fashion, lifestyle and entertainment content. A qualified barber and men's stylist, Nick also holds a Cert III in Barbering from the Queensland Hairdressing Academy.