Nick Hall
23 Best Jordans Of All Time | Man of Many
When it comes to the best Jordans of all time, the ‘best’ is truly in the eye of the beholder. Man of Many has chosen to rank the best Air Jordans of all time by taking into account chronological order, and importance to the shoes at the time, today, and into the future. Along the way, they’ll tick off everything from low-tops to high-tops, OG colourways and limited edition releases with colourways that are best suited to collectors, and those who want to wear them every day.
How Man of Many Chose This List of the Best Jordans
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.
The Best Jordans of All Time
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.
1. Jordan 1 ‘Chicago’
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.
2. Jordan 3 ‘Black Cement’
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.
3. Jordan 5 ‘Fire Red’
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.
4. Jordan 4 ‘Bred’
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.
5. Jordan 11 ‘Concord’
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.
6. Jordan 6 ‘Black Infrared’
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.
7. Jordan 1 Retro High ‘Pine Green’
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.
8. Air Jordan 3 Retro ‘UNC’
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 grail and is undoubtedly one of the best Air Jordan shoes of all time.
9. Jordan 11 ‘Bred’
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.
10. Air Jordan 4 Retro ‘What The’
Having only hit shelves three times in the brand’s 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.
11. Jordan 1 Retro High ‘Shadow’
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 model money can buy. A deadstock pair will set you back more than $2000 AUD.
12. Air Jordan 1 Retro ‘Shattered Backboard’
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.
13. Jordan New Beginnings Pack Retro High 1 & Nike Air Ship
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.
14. Jordan 4 Retro ‘Black Cat’
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.
15. Air Jordan 1 Retro ‘Royal’
Returning again in 2020, the Jordan 6 DMP “Defining Moments Pack” is a sleek black and gold number that bears a striking similarity to the original DMP pack first unveiled back in 2006. These Jordan retros hit shelves in April 2020, kicking off a new era for the iconic silhouette.
16. Jordan 6 Retro ‘DMP’
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.
17. Jordan 13 Retro Low ‘Chutney’
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 and 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.
18. Jordan 1 Retro High ‘Dior’
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.
19. Jordan 3 Retro ‘Knicks’
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.
20. Air Jordan 1 Retro High ‘Rust Pink’
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, 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.
21. Jordan 5 Retro ‘Off-White Black’
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.
22. Air Jordan 12 Retro ‘Reverse Taxi’
If you’ve been asking yourself what Jordans Spider-Man would wear, you’re in luck because 2018 saw the release of the Air Jordan 1 with a design keeping old Spidey in mind. And while the shoe is rumoured to be making a comeback this year, according to the folks at Sole Collector, this one will always remain the best with a white upper, red accents, black Nike Swoosh, white midsole, and a translucent sole. A great alternative to the Jordan 1 Chicago that has a cool story to boot.
23. Jordan 1 Retro High ‘Spider-Man Origin Story’
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.
Air Jordan History
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.
Unpacking the Air Jordan Design
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