There are hundreds of different basketball shoes on the market at any given time and plenty of players have their own line of shoes. From Shaquille O’Neal to Stephon Marbury, almost every star has tried their hand (or foot) at a shoe line. However, nobody has topped Michael Jordan, with the Air Jordan brand being by far the most popular in basketball history. Out of the many generations of Air Jordans, which ones are the best, though? Here are our top five:
5. Air Jordan VI
When you think of sleek basketball shoes, the Air Jordan VI is one of the first ones that come to mind. At $125 upon its 1991 release, the ones that Jordan wore on the court were mostly white with red trim, black tongues, and white laces.
Other variations were made, including mostly black with red and white soles that also showed Jordan’s more aggressive playstyle. With several reissues since the Air Jordan VI has been the baseline for a lot of different styles over the years.
4. Air Jordan XI
A lot of the Air Jordans on the list were among the younger generations, but the later generation Air Jordan XI remains one of the best. The Air Jordan XI was released in 1995 along with the announcement that Jordan was returning to the NBA following his initial retirement.
The sneaker, which was white with black trim and featured the Jumpman logo on the outer back heel, became synonymous with mid-1990s fashion. Tinker Hatfield designed the Air Jordan XI for Nike and said it was the best that he had ever done. This version was more durable, yet lighter, making it the ultimate basketball shoe.
3. Air Jordan IV
Released in 1989, the Air Jordan IV didn’t have a significant redesign from its predecessor but was featured prominently in one of the most iconic photographs in sports history. During the 1989 playoffs, Jordan and the Bulls were facing the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Bulls were down in the winner-take-all game, but Jordan hit a jump shot over Craig Ehlo to allow the Bulls to advance.
Jordan was wearing black Jordan IV shoes with red soles, leaping into the air and pumping his fist following the shot. That image would be ingrained into the minds of sports fans around the world, launching the Jordan brand shoes into the stratosphere.
2. Air Jordan I
Of course, you can’t have a list of the best Air Jordans without talking about the pair that started it all: the Air Jordan I. Designed by Peter Moore, the original Air I was released in 1985 during Jordan’s amazing rookie season. Nike knew that Jordan was going to be one of the biggest stars in the league, giving him a signature shoe in the process.
There have been a lot of reissues and redesigns of the iconic Air I since their release, but the original always remains the eye-catching classic. The red and white design really pops, with the black Nike swoosh on the side. Only a few knew what kind of international sensation the Jordan brand would be when this shoe was released.
1. Air Jordan III
While there were two other Air Jordans by the time the third generation came around, this was the one that made the shoes into a global phenomenon. This was the line that made the Jordan brand a fashion trend, with people lining up to get their hands on a pair. To this day, Air Jordan III’s are getting remakes and updated versions while the original pairs are selling for big bucks through auctions both in-person and online.
At the time of its release in 1988, the Air Jordan III cost $100 and had some tweaks from the first two generations. The Air Jordan III didn’t feature the swoosh, and introduced the Jumpman logo for the first time, placing it on the tongue. That alone made the generation of Jordans an icon that still holds up today.