The Best Air Jordans Of All Time: Risk-Taking, History-Making, And Riot-Starting

Best Air Jordans Of All Time

Since the iconic moment in 1984 when Michael Jordan was spotted in his first pair of Nike kicks while rising to stardom with the Chicago Bulls, Jordans have been enchanting sneaker enthusiasts across the globe. With a cult-like status and a massive global following, no other footwear holds such legendary appeal.

If you're a die-hard basketball fan and want to relive every iconic Michael Jordan moment also catching up through Netflix's The Last Dance, you know two things: MJ's basketball skills are the best, and he doesn't take his footwear lightly.

With a staggering lineup of 35 Air Jordan models, which does not include colorways, collaborations, limited editions, and retro releases, Jordans have been made to cater to every style preference. From '90s streetwear classics to on-court performance marvels and high-fashion collaborations, there's a pair of Jordans for every mood and occasion.

Tops and Bottoms USA have combined a list featuring the most iconic, popular, innovative, high-performing, and simply the best Jordans of all time, by their release dates. Let’s have a look through these Sneakers.

The 23 Best Jordans Of All Time

  1. Air Jordan I: Released in 1985
  2. Air Jordan III: Released in 1988
  3. Air Jordan XI: Released in 1995
  4. Air Jordan IV: Released in 1989
  5. Air Jordan VII: Released in 1992
  6. Air Jordan XII: Released in 1996
  7. Air Jordan V: Released in 1990
  8. Air Jordan II: Released in 1986
  9. Air Jordan VI: Released in 1991
  10. Air Jordan XIV: Released in 1998
  11. Air Jordan XIII: Released in 1997
  12. Air Jordan XVI: Released in 2001
  13. Air Jordan VIII: Released in 1993
  14. Air Jordan XVIII: Released in 2003
  15. Air Jordan XV: Released in 1999
  16. Air Jordan IX: Released in 1993
  17. Air Jordan XVII: Released in 2002
  18. Air Jordan XIX: Released in 2004
  19. Air Jordan X: Released in 1994
  20. Air Jordan XX8: Released in 2013
  21. Air Jordan XX3: Released in 2008
  22. Air Jordan XX: Released in 2005
  23. Air Jordan XXXV DNA: Released in 2020

Air Jordan I: Release Year 1985

Air Jordan I: Released in 1985

The OG Air Jordan was the very first Nike shoe that was endorsed by MJ and the only one with the Nike Swoosh—due to these reasons it is one of the best Jordan shoes in existence. 

The Air Jordan I was the one due to which obsession with Jordans started but a major controversy sparked when its black and red color combination broke the NBA’s 51% white rule regarding the shoes. 

Air Jordan III: Release Year 1988

Air Jordan III: Released in 1988

The Air Jordan III, were the first shoes designed by the visionary Tinker Hatfield, marked a revolutionary moment in sneaker design. Hatfield removed the Nike Swoosh logo and introduced different elements like elephant print panels, black and white uppers, and the iconic Jumpman Logo. Released in the late '80s, this sneaker exuded freshness and a futuristic vibe, setting the stage for contemporary sneaker innovation that continues to influence the industry even to this day.

Air Jordan XI: Release Year 1995

Air Jordan XI: Released in 1995

Its release in the black-and-white Concord colorway infamously led to fights and riots across America as people tried to get their hands on a pair. Proof, if you needed it, that this is one of the most popular Jordan shoes ever. The model is also available as a pair of low-top Jordans.

Its release in the black-and-white Concord colorway infamously became the reason for riots across America as everyone tried to own a pair. The model is also available as a pair of low-top Jordans.

Air Jordan IV: Release Year 1989

Air Jordan IV: Released in 1989

The Air Jordan IV gained fame by an appearance in Spike Lee's film "Do The Right Thing." One of the key features that contribute to their status as some of the best Jordans is the lacing support system, mentioned as 'wings,' allowing customization based on the wearer's preferences. Notably, the Air Jordan IV was the first in the Air Jordan line to have a global release, The Pure Money colorway, characterized by its all-white design, especially due to its 2006 rerelease, became one of the most popular Jordan shoes ever.

Air Jordan VII: Release Year 1992

Air Jordan VII: Released in 1992

Air Jordan VII marked a significant shift This was the first J to be released as part of the Jordan brand rather than Nike. This transition symbolized Michael Jordan's career as both a basketball legend and a successful businessman. Wearing the Air Jordan VII, MJ achieved historic Milestones which included the NBA championship, Finals MVP, and MVP titles, including a gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona summer games. The Black Infrared colorway, in particular, is one of the most popular Jordan shoes ever released.

Air Jordan XII: Release Year 1996

Air Jordan XII: Released in 1996

The Air Jordan XII, forever engraved in the archives of basketball history, symbolizes resilience and determination, notably worn by Michael Jordan during the iconic 1997 Flu Game. Battling through illness, Jordan scored an impressive 38 points, making these sneakers legendary. Its features include ribbed quilted panels inspired by Japan's Rising Sun flag and a departure from patent leather to pebbled leather. Renowned as some of the best Jordans, the XIIs showcase a unique mixture of style and steady spirit. Explore the low-top version for an alternative take on this classic.

Air Jordan V: Release Year 1990

Air Jordan V: Released in 1990

The Air Jordan V  is inspired from the WW2 Mustang fighter jet, and these Sneakers are as competitive as MJ Himself. The Sneaker features smooth leather and nubuck, mesh side pannels, also shark-tooth shapes on the midsole.

Because Will Smith wore these sneakers in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air it also contributed to making them so popular and some of the most favorite Jordans today. 

Air Jordan II: Release Year 1986

Air Jordan II: Released in 1986

Recognized for its elegance, the Air Jordan II stands out as one of the line's most luxurious models. Featuring deluxe details like faux-lizard skin, brogue-like perforations, and Italian craftsmanship, it gives upscale flamboyant confidence. This exclusive sneaker combines sportswear and red-carpet fashion and was among the first to seamlessly combine both. With a nod to high-end fashion and a higher price tag, the Air Jordan II offers a sophisticated touch, suitable even for pairing with a tuxedo.

Air Jordan VI: Release Year 1991

Air Jordan VI: Released in 1991

Designed for speed and peak performance, the Air Jordan 6 carefully considers every detail for game optimization. Featuring two grip holes on the tongue for easy entry and a latex sleeve lining for enhanced comfort and blister prevention, it's a symbol of superior athletic craftsmanship. Inspired by Michael Jordan's Porsche 911, this ultra-cool creation witnessed the basketball legend clinch his first championship title. With a blend of innovation and iconic style, the Air Jordan 6 is considered as one of the best Jordan shoes of all time.

Air Jordan XIV: Release Year 1998

Air Jordan XIV: Released in 1998

Pursuing the list of the world’s best you will notice a common thing– the influence of fast cars. The Air Jordan XIV, for instance, is inspired by the shape and style of Michael Jordan's Ferrari 550M. Notably, the sneaker features the Jumpman logo 14 times, as a tribute to the 14th edition in the Jordan series. The Last Shot colorway, a black-red combination, gained immense popularity as MJ sported them during his iconic winning shot in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals. This fusion of automotive inspiration and basketball legacy makes the Air Jordan XIV a standout in the collection.

Air Jordan XIII: Release Year 1997

Air Jordan XIII: Released in 1997

If you have watched Netflix Series “The Last Dance” you can easily recognize these shoes as they were the shoes Michael Jordan wore most of the 1997-98 Season.

Releasing unignorable luxury, the Air Jordan XIII embraces lavishness fitting for the pinnacle of Michael Jordan's stardom. Drawing inspiration from a panther, a nod to Jordan's flexibility, reflexes, and his 'Black Cat' Nickname, the sneaker features an outsole resembling a panther's paw. Holograms on the bottom and ankle evoke a cat's glinting eye. Particularly renowned in the black and red Bred colorway, the XIII stands as one of the most beloved Jordans. Additionally, low-top versions of this model are also available, adding versatility to its iconic design.

Air Jordan XVI: Release Year 2001

Air Jordan XVI: Release Year 2001

The most prominent feature of Air Jordan XVI is the removable gaiter making these shoes both technical and trendy.

These Shoes were released at a time when Michael Jordan became president of the Washington Wizards, these sneakers were considered to be suitable for both on-court and boardroom.

Air Jordan VIII: Release Year 1993

Air Jordan VIII: Release Year 1993

The Air Jordan VIII stands out as one of the most distinctive sneakers in the Michael Jordan lineup, boasting a chunky, defiant, and daring design. Featuring a chenille tongue graphic and twin straps that boldly cross over the laces, the AJ VIIIs embody the 90s-style sneaker aesthetic, making them a standout choice for those seeking something unique. Keep an eye out for the low-top version of the VIII, released in 2003, providing an alternative style option.

Air Jordan XVIII: Release Year 2003

Air Jordan XVIII: Released in 2003

The Air Jordan XVIII stands out as one of the most attention-grabbing and iconic sneakers of all time. Worn by Jordan during his final farewell in Washington in 2003, it showcased a distinctive driving shoe heel, a nod to the star's love for ultra-fast cars, and was accompanied by accessories like a towel, brush, and driver's manual. The vamp cover, reminiscent of a deluxe Italian dress shoe, adds an extra touch of sophistication, making these sneakers unforgettable.

Air Jordan XV: Release Year 1999

Air Jordan XV: Released in 1999

In the late 90s, the Air Jordan design took a turn towards the eccentric, having quirky and offbeat inspirations. The XV, influenced by NASA's X-15 fighter jet, boasts unique and high-impact aesthetics. Surprisingly, the high cushioned collar draws inspiration from moccasins. Designed by Tinker Hatfield, the XV holds significance as the last sneaker he created for the line. Although Michael Jordan didn't wear it on the court, it stands as a distinctive addition to the Air Jordan footwear collection.

Air Jordan IX: Release Year 1993

Air Jordan IX: Released in 1993

The Air Jordan IX made its debut during one of Michael Jordan's breaks from basketball when he pursued minor league baseball. Reflecting this, the sneaker resembles a baseball cleat. It also showcases Jordan's growing global influence, featuring various languages, including Japanese and Swahili, on the outsoles. The inclusion of words like dedicated, independence, freedom, and force shows the ethos associated with Michael Jordan.

Air Jordan XVII: Release Year 2002

Air Jordan XVII: Release Year 2002

The Air Jordan XVII was designed to celebrate Michael Jordan's return to basketball for the 2001-2002 NBA season with the Washington Wizards. It garnered attention not only for its stylish design but also for its price tag, making it the most expensive among all Jordans. The sneaker took inspiration from jazz music, highlighting the improvisational qualities of the genre that mirrored MJ's ability to ad-lib on the basketball court. The original release even came in a distinctive metal briefcase with a CD-ROM.

Air Jordan XIX: Release Year 2004

Air Jordan XIX: Released in 2004

Clinch the avant-garde with the XIX, a testament to Jordan shoes' legacy of pushing design boundaries. Drawing inspiration from the black mamba snake, these sneakers boast a striking silhouette featuring a braided sleeve instead of conventional laces. The comfort factor is elevated with a carbon fiber support shank and a full-length Zoom Airbag complemented by a traditional Air unit in the heel. The XIX stands out as not only innovative but also among the most comfortable and coveted Jordan shoes in the lineup.

Air Jordan X: Release Year 1994

Air Jordan X: Release Year 1994

Step into history with the AJ X, a tribute to the decade-long collaboration between MJ and Nike, marking a pivotal moment during MJ's brief hiatus from basketball to pursue baseball. These sneakers stand out for their lightweight, clean-lined design, and the fusion of leather, nylon, and Zoom Air cushioning. The 10 lateral stripes along the sole serve as a visual ode to the sports icon's remarkable first 10 years of breaking basketball records. The AJ X encapsulates a unique chapter in MJ's journey and the enduring partnership with Nike.

Air Jordan XX8: Release Year 2013

Air Jordan XX8: Release Year 2013

Introducing the AJ XX8, a modern addition to the celebrated AJ line endorsed by the dynamic Russell Westbrook. This show-stopping sneaker doesn't compromise on style or function, featuring a never-before-seen boot-high casing or 'shroud,' partly inspired by military combat boots. The responsive design boasts a flexible yet supportive upper and solid traction, perfectly aligning with Westbrook's flashy dunks and explosive style on the basketball court. The AJ XX8 stands out as a bold and innovative choice for those seeking a blend of performance and unique aesthetics.

Air Jordan XX3: Release Year 2008

Air Jordan XX3: Released in 2008

The XX3, being the 23rd model in Michael Jordan's iconic shoe line, holds a special significance. A true masterpiece, this sneaker is a must-have for die-hard MJ fans, featuring stitching that symbolizes Michael Jordan's DNA pattern. The player's thumbprint is embossed on the rear, and his autograph graces the toe, adding a personal touch. In line with the trend towards eco-friendly footwear, the XX3 is crafted with minimal toxins, waste, and bi-products, contributing to a more sustainable and responsible design.

Air Jordan XX: Release Year 2005

Air Jordan XX: Released in 2005

The AJ XX, crafted to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Jordan Brand, serves as a symbolic representation of MJ's life story in sneaker form. Designed by the renowned duo Tinker Hatfield and Mark Smith, this ambitious endeavor incorporates over 200 laser-etched symbols into the upper, encapsulating the entirety of the sportsman's biography. Intricate details, such as Michael sitting in the backseat of a 1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo with his mom, Deloris, and sixty-nine dimples along the side referencing his highest-scoring game, add a personal and nostalgic touch to this commemorative sneaker.

Air Jordan XXXV DNA: Release Year 2020

Air Jordan XXXV DNA: Released in 2020

The XXXV DNA, marking the final sneakers on our list, stands out as one of the quirkiest, weirdest, and most memorable Michael Jordan shoes of all time. This design effortlessly channels the spirit of a fighter jet and encapsulates the essence of 90s retro Jordans. Notable features include the brand's exposed Eclipse Plate 2.0, seamlessly extending into the shoe's upper, providing a combination of energy return, stability, and cushioning. The partially exposed Zoom Air bag in the heel enhances responsiveness, and the use of high-end materials like nubuck and suede ensures this sneaker can effortlessly transition from casual to smart-casual looks.

The History Of Air Jordan shoes

The inaugural Air Jordans hit the shelves on April 1st, 1985, marking the beginning of a groundbreaking collaboration between Nike and the emerging basketball star, Michael Jordan. Back when he was a rookie, MJ signed a remarkable 5-year deal with Nike. The Air Jordan 1s, introduced in 1984, were the first Jordan Shoes, defying norms and making a significant impact on the court. Featuring the iconic Nike Swoosh and Wings symbol, the red and black colorway led to NBA prohibition, resulting in a $5,000 fine per game. Despite the penalties, the publicity solidified the rebellious reputation of Air Jordans.

The subsequent releases included the Air Jordan II in 1986 and the Air Jordan III in 1988, which marked the transition from the Nike Swoosh to the iconic Jumpman logo. Today, Air Jordans are accessible at an average price of around $145, but certain rare pairs fetch significantly higher amounts. In 2020, MJ's first-ever Air Jordans were auctioned for $560,000, and in 2023, a pair of 'Bred' Air Jordan 13s worn by Jordan during the 1998 NBA Finals sold for a staggering $2.2 million, setting a record for the most expensive Jordans and sneakers in history, surpassing Drake's solid gold custom OVO X Air Jordans valued at $2 million.

Understanding The Unique Air Jordan Design And Signature Style

Air Jordans have become iconic in sneaker culture, and several distinctive features contribute to their allure. The renowned Jumpman logo, depicting Michael Jordan mid-air, is a symbol synonymous with the line. Another notable trait is the transparent rubber sole, initially introduced with the Air Jordan V, offering both style and functionality. The loop at the shoe's back simplifies the process of putting them on and taking them off.

A unique touch desired by Michael Jordan himself is the use of patent leather in many Jordan models. This addition reflects Jordan's vision of creating shoes suitable for both formal wear and the basketball court. Nike's Zoom Air technology is a prevalent feature in Jordans, delivering enhanced responsiveness, reduced pronation, and a rapid liftoff sensation crucial for top basketball performance.

The plastic lace lock on Jordans serves a practical purpose, preventing laces from shifting during jumps and dunks. Additionally, some Jordans include a removable shroud or gaiter, offering a dressier appearance by concealing the laces, and a carbon fiber shank plate for added support and stability. These distinctive features collectively contribute to the unique and celebrated design of Air Jordans.

FAQS Of Best Air Jordans 2024

Which Jordan Shoe Is the Most Popular on Tops and Bottoms USA?

The Air Jordan 1s stand out as the most popular Jordans on Tops and Bottoms and hold the distinction of being the original Jordan shoe in the lineup. These sneakers achieved a lot of success, becoming a global pop culture phenomenon. Renowned for their iconic and straightforward styling, coupled with exceptional functionality, the Air Jordan 1s continue to captivate fans worldwide.

Which Is the Top-Selling Jordans on Tops and Bottoms USA?

Among the top-selling Jordans on Tops and Bottoms Air Jordan 1 'Black Toe', Air Jordan 1 'Chicago', Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG Bordeaux, and the Air Jordan Mid Bred 1. Notably, the Air Jordan Mid Bred 1, with its black and red colorway, holds historical significance as it was originally banned by the NBA, adding to its popularity amongst sneaker fans.

What Are the Best Jordans to Buy Right Now?

Currently, some of the best Jordans to buy include the Air Jordan 35, released in 2020, known for its high-performance features suitable for basketball. For those seeking a street-style appeal, collaborations like the Off-White x Air Jordan 4 are among the top choices, combining fashion-forward design with the iconic Jordan brand.

Which Jordan Shoes Are MJ’s Favorite?

Michael Jordan's favorite Jordan shoe is the Air Jordan 11 Concord. This iconic shoe is renowned for its innovative design, featuring patent leather that makes it suitable for formal occasions. MJ notably wore this shoe during the 1995-1996 NBA season.

Which Jordan 1 Has the Best Quality?

The Air Jordan 1 Black Toe is considered one of the best colorways among the various options available for Jordan 1s. These shoes maintain the high quality associated with the original Jordan 1s, crafted from full-grain calfskin and featuring additional cushioning and support.

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