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Top 8 Nike Air Jordans of all time

We know Michael is, and always will be number one. The shoes though, they’re a different matter. Sit back as we rank our favourite 8 sneakers of the Nike Air Jordan series.

Nike Air Jordan 4 in white on red background with top 8 Nike Air Jordans of all time title

Nike Air Jordan: the basketball trainer

Michael Jordan is now long retired, but the Air Jordan sneaker brand is still going strong. If you’ve had the pleasure of viewing The Last Dance, you’ll be more than aware that game-changing NBA plays and sneaker design belong hand in hand. This is undeniable since the first AJ launched in 1984. 

The timeline of the Air Jordan has seen many changes, some for better, some for worse... AJ 2011, anyone? With so many options, we thought it would be useful to put together a shortlist of our 8 favourites. Let’s get to ranking.

8. Nike Air Jordan XXXIV (34)

Image from Nike.

The 34th release from the Jordan team has made this list for us, mainly because of its homage to His Airness. The Morse Code ‘23’ on the vamp is an exquisite tribute to MJ.

The design itself steps away from the retro style that dominated Jordan design since 1984. The lightest model ever created, that futuristic midsole gap would be right at home in Space Jam 2044, if we ever get it *crosses fingers*.


7. Nike Air Jordan XII (12)

Image from Nike.

It would be a little rude of us if we didn’t include the inaugural release from the official Jordan brand. There’s something about the simplicity of black and white, which is why we love this particular monochrome number.

Although their first release under the Jordan name, you’d be hard pressed to spot any Jordan branding. This sneaker spoke for itself, with luxurious upper, gold-plated steel lace loops and Zoom Air unit midsole. What a specimen.


6. Nike Air Jordan VI (6)

Image from Nike.

Big sneakers are remembered by big moments. This AJ VI is in on the merit of looks, helped by their supporting role in MJ’s multiple game-winning performances vs. LA Lakers in the ‘91 NBA finals.

To showcase the silhouette, we’ve picked this brazen denim retro creation from 2019. A far stretch from the black/infrared colourway that Jordan used to dominate the Lakers with in 1991. Double denim? Triple denim? Does anyone care? Just do it.


5. Nike Jordan 270 Mars 

Image from Nike.

OK, don’t throw things at us! We know the 270 Mars isn’t strictly part of the AJ series, but we felt strongly about shining a light on one of the freshest silhouettes in recent days. Plus, it’s an absolute melting pot of Jordan appreciation.

Bits of the I, IV, V and VI have been blended with the more contemporary 270-degree Air unit. And it works. Designed by the son of Spike Lee, it’s got AJ history. The colourway we’ve chosen is that of the classic retro Air Max models. You’ll let us off, surely?


4. Nike Air Jordan V (5)

Image from Nike.

Of course the AJ 5 made the list. The first to be adorned with the no.23, synonymous with big Mike. Adopted lovingly by sporting legends across the years in the NFL, NHL, MLB, and DB in his MLS years. Basically, all of the acronyms.

That exposed Nike Air bubble, the translucent sole and breathable mesh panel make this special to look at. Who can argue with something which was repped on the regular by the coolest man from Philly? TFPOBA. Figure that one out.


3. Nike Air Jordan III (3)

Image from Nike.

We’re a little obsessed with the elephant skin detailing on the AJ III. The first shoe from Nike’s legendary designer, Tinker Hatfield. This model allegedly kept MJ with Nike, and was the first to introduce ‘Jumpman’.

The aforementioned comedian Spike Lee starred in the popular ad campaign for this silhouette, helping amplify the brand to millions. Our example colourway is a brilliant contrast of animal print against textured upper. In the animal kingdom, this would be top of the chain.


2. Nike Air Jordan IV (4)

Image from Nike.

Remember when we mentioned big moments? They don’t come much bigger than game-winning shots, on the buzzer, in NBA finals. The IV’s were airborne with Michael when he did just that, vs. Utah Jazz in 1989.

These sneakers had so much going on with them, but it worked so well together, like an orchestra of design elements. The first shoe which catapulted Nike and Jordan across the global market, it’s a shot we couldn’t afford to miss. On the buzzer! 


1. Nike Air Jordan I (1)

Image from Nike.

What else? It had to be. Our ‘I’ and only. The one that started this whole damn revolution, in its original colourway. How can something still look as good in the 2020s as it did in the ‘80s? Timeless design.

Peter Moore’s creativity was the catalyst in attracting MJ to sign with Nike in ‘84. We won’t talk numbers but, what a deal that has been for all involved. There’s just one thing we think about though, why can’t we be like Mike and wear a new pair every day?

Kevan Thorpe

Quintessential grassroots journeyman. I've had more "you look like Gareth Barry" comments than I have career goals.