Gentry Humphrey might just have a bit of a biased opinion when it comes to the Air Jordan XXXIV. After all, Humphrey is the Vice President of Jordan Brand Footwear. That being said, it’s hard to argue with what Humphrey had to say about the new shoe. “The Air Jordan signature game shoes have become the most influential line of performance footwear in basketball history. By introducing new, proprietary innovation with the XXXIV, the line’s game-changing legacy is extended to a new generation of athletes.”
What makes this new Air Jordan the shoe of the next generation? It may sound counter-intuitive, but that achievement is arrived at by first stripping away everything but what is needed by the athlete to enhance their performance. Tate Kuerbis, Jordan Brand designer, explained that process: “Work on this shoe began by collating feedback from the Air Jordan XXXIII. Athletes noted a desire to improve traction and reduce weight—that became our starting point. We focused on athletes who are playing above the rim and making them more explosive.” Achieving a lighter weight and improved traction required innovation, and that led to the Jordan Eclipse Plate, which uses two Pebax pieces and a Zoom Air’s forefoot. “The Eclipse plate takes the inherent values of the propulsion Flight Plate, a technology that is well-loved by Jordan athletes, and helps reduce the overall stiffness and strips down the weight. We achieve this by thinking about the type of plate materials used and how we can harness the principle value of each element,” says Kuerbis.
For better traction, the sole of the XXXIV features a herringbone pattern. The classic pattern was selected after reviewing athlete foot scans and finding that this particular pattern gave a superior first step and a quicker cut. But what Keurbis loves most is that the new shoe is completely unique. “One of the things I love about this shoe is that it doesn’t remind you of any Jordan from the past. But it does remind you of the purest form of a basketball shoe.”
So maybe Humphrey is biased a bit, but you’re going to have to take his word for it—unless you’re one of the select Jordan Brand athletes that will get to wear the shoe, or a member of one of the partner high school and collegiate teams.