25 Best Air Jordans Of All Time Ranked

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Let’s not beat around the bush. When it comes to basketball icons, there is none bigger and more grandeur than His Airness himself, Michael Jordan. Over 15 seasons in the NBA, Air Jordan catapulted the sport back into popular fashion after the heyday of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson came to close. Armed with a trademark flair, style and tongue-out cockiness, MJ was an instant star and fans recognised it. Droves of people travelled across the continent to catch a glimpse of the Chicago Bulls’ number 23 in action and it was always a spectacle. Everyone remembers where they were when they first saw Jordan hit that shot in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals. Similarly, the first time they witnessed Air Jordan dunk from the free thrown line. Or the time he joined a band of misfit players to defeat a team of genetically-modified alien beings to save Earth from complete annihilation. There truly is nothing Michael Jordan hasn’t achieved on the court, but it is his appeal off it that is most notable.

Even now, more than 15 years after he retired (for the third time no less), Michael Jordan’s legacy remains unequalled. His GOAT status was confirmed earlier this month when the ESPN documentary The Last Dance premiered. More than 6.1 million viewers tuned in to episode 1 and 2 to see Jordan tell the story of his incredible career in person, making it the most successful documentary in the network’s history. And while MJ is certainly the leader of the series, some colourful co-stars are threatening to steal the limelight. No, not Charles Oakley or Dennis Rodman, but a slew of castmates that offer more than their fair share of support; his shoes. Or more accurately, his Air Jordans.

Air Jordan History

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 a 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.

Over the course of the season, Jordan dominated, finishing as the Rookie of the Year, but amongst the fans, he was MVP. His signature tongue-out play style and youthful arrogance was the perfect blend of Johnson’s speed and athleticism and Bird’s skill and shooting, all wrapped up in a stylish package. Nike’s Peter Moore was responsible for the new kid’s kicks and much like the rookie himself, they didn’t disappoint. The first Air Jordan shoes, aptly named the Air Jordan 1 were as visually stunning as they were ground-breaking.

This Air Jordan was the first in the series to feature the familiar Nike Swoosh logo. And predating the Jumpman logo, the OG shoe featured the Wings logo – a basketball with wings stretching from both sides and “Air Jordan” printed above the ball. Basketball folklore will tell you that the Air Jordan 1 was originally banned by the NBA, but that’s not entirely true. A prototype Red and Black Air colourway, known as the Nike Air Ship was banned by NBA commissioner David Stern for breaching the ’51 per cent rule’, which dictated that footwear must be majority white.

the popular story is that the ban and subsequent $5,000 per game fine didn’t stop MJ from wearing the Air Jordan 1 on-court. Nike recognised the unique marketing opportunity, opting to pay the fine for each time Michael Jordan wore the shoes in-game. Thus, the bad boy, rule-breaking ethos of the Air Jordans was born.

Unpacking the Air Jordan Design

Following the unprecedented success of the Air Jordan 1, 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 Air Jordans from just a basketball shoe to a streetwear movement.

The best Air Jordans all share common design elements, most of which come from long-time collaborator and designer Tinker Hatfield.

  • Air-Sole – The visible Air-Sole unit under the heel became an icon for Air Jordans. It retained Nike’s “Air” embroidery on the heel, encapsulated Air in the forefoot, and a polyurethane midsole for cushioning.
  • Offset ankle collar – First introduced in the Air Jordan V, the offset ankle collar was integrated to boost support while offering flexibility where a player needed it most.
  • Patent leather – The Air Jordans were the first basketball ball shoe to introduce patent leather, reportedly at the instruction of Michael Jordan who desired a basketball shoe that could be worn with a suit.

The Best Jordans of All Time

Since the Air Jordans were first released back in 1985, there’s been a wealth of new lines introduced. Which pair do you need in your collection? Better jump on these quickly before they sell out.

Here is a list of the 25 best Air Jordans of all time.

Best Jordans of all time - Air Jordan 1 Retro Chicago

1. Air Jordan 1 Retro Chicago

Undoubtedly the most significant and best Jordans of all time, the Air Jordan 1 Retro Chicago are a collector’s dream. Last released in 2015, this iconic silhouette has become the staple for street ballers and basketball fans. Since premiering on The Last Dance, the Air Jordan Chicago sneakers have skyrocketed in popularity, but you can still get your hands on some.

Year: 2015
Colourway: White/Varsity Red-Black
Insole material: Foam
Cushioning: Maximum
Outsole material: Rubber
Shoe shaft style: High Top

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2. Air Jordan 5 Fire Red Retro OG White

It might not look it, but the 5 Fire Red Retro OG is one of the newest pieces in the Air Jordan portfolio. The retro design was released earlier this year 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.

Year: 2020
Colourway: White/Fire Red-Black
Insole material: Foam
Cushioning: Maximum
Outsole material: Rubber
Shoe shaft style: High Top

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3. Air Jordan 6 DMP Retro VI Black Metallic Gold

Returning again in 2020, the Air Jordan 6 DMP “Defining Moment” is a sleek black and gold number that bears a striking similarity to the original DMP pack that was first unveiled back in 2006. The newest incarnation hit shelves in April kicking off a new era for the iconic silhouette.

Year: 2020
Colourway: Black/Metallic Gold
Cushioning: Maximum
Shoe shaft style: High Top

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Best Jordans of all time - Air Jordan 3 Retro OG Black Cement

4. Air Jordan 3 Retro OG Black Cement

Back in 2018, the infamous Air Jordan 3 Retro OG ushered in a new era for Air Jordans. 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.

Year: 2018
Colourway: Black/Fire Red-Cement
Cushioning: Maximum
Upper material: Leather
Shoe shaft style: Mid Top

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5. Nike Air Jordan 1 Pine Green Retro High OG

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 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.

Year: 2020
Upper material: Leather
Colourway: Pine green
Outsole material: Rubber
Shoe shaft style: High Top

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6. Air Jordan 3 UNC Retro White Valor Blue

The 2020 edition of these classic Air Jordans 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 Jordan’s college, the University of North Carolina. However, in recent years, the colourway has been opened to the public.

Year: 2020
Upper material: Leather
Colourway: White/Valor Blue-Tech Grey
Shoe shaft style: Mid Top

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7. Air Jordan 4 Bred Retro IV OG Black Cement Red

They say a classic never dies, and the Air Jordan 4 is one example of true longevity. The “Black Cement 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 cant deny this is is one of the best Air Jordans ever created.

Year: 2019
Colourway: Black/Cement Grey-Summit White-Fire Red
Shoe shaft style: High Top

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8. Air Jordan 11 BRED Retro Black True Red

First worn on NBA courts back in April 1996, the Jordan XI Black/True Red-White are playoff-ready performance shoes. This variation is the 2019 edition, which marked the first release for the style in seven years. The footwear ranks high on MJ’s grails and is undoubtedly one of the best Air Jordan shoes of all time.

Year: 2019
Upper material: Patent leather
Outsole material: Rubber
Colourway: Black/True Red-White

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9. Air Jordan 4 What The Retro IV

Released for Air Jordan’s 30th anniversary, the special-edition “What The” colourway is one of the most interesting Air Jordans of all time. Featuring colour blocking that includes a mix of White/Cement, Military Blue, Fire Red, and Black/Cement, this Air Jordan 4 comes complete with “Nike Air” branded heel tabs.

Year: 2019
Upper material: Leather
Outsole material: Rubber
Colourway: White/Fire Red-Tech Grey-Military Blue

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10. Nike Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG ‘Shadow’ 2018

Having only hit shelves three times in Air Jordans’ 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.

Year: 2018
Upper material: Leather
Colourway: Black/Medium Grey-White

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11. Nike Air Jordan 1 Retro High Shattered Backboard 3.0

Inspired by the orange and black jersey that Michael Jordan wore when he shattered a backboard in an Italian exhibition game in 1986, these Air Jordans are brutal. In a rare move, the design is comprised of a black and orange crinkled patent leather upper to represent the shattered glass.

Year: 2019
Upper material: Leather
Colourway: Black/Pale Vanilla Starfish

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12. 2020 Nike Air Jordan New Air Ship New Beginnings Pack

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 Jordans collectable. This pack features the 1984 white/red Air Ship PE with an all-white and red Air Jordan 1 High colourway complete with its OG style hangtag.

Year: 2020
Colourway: White/Red, White

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13. Nike Air Jordan 4 Winter ‘Loyal Blue’

Putting a spin on the iconic Jordan 4 design, the Winter Loyal Blue is as cool as they come. The difference between this winterized design and a traditional Jordan 4 lies in the material choices. The Winterised 4 replaces the classic mesh insert panels with a canvas-like material, differentiating it from the traditional Air Jordan 4 design.

Year: 2019
Upper material: Leather
Colourway: Loyal Blue/Habanero Red

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14. 2017 Nike Air Jordan 1 Nike Retro High OG Royal Blue

Widely known as Jordan’s favourite colourway, the Royal Blues 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, the Royals have been released in 2001, 2013, and 2017, confirming their status as one of the best Air Jodan sneakers of all time.

Year: 2017
Upper material: Leather
Colourway: Black/Varsity Royal-White

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15. Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG GS Crimson Tint

The Air Jordan 1 High OG GS “Crimson Tint” was released in early 2019, adding a coral pink “Crimson Tint” hue to the two-tone colour blocking seen on classic silhouettes. The black panelling features a premium tumbled leather construction, while the midsole appears in a light grey shade.

Year: 2019
Upper material: Leather
Colourway: Black/Crimson Tint-White

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16. Nike Air Jordan 34 Low PE XXXIV Guo Ailun

One of the craziest looking Air Jordan shoes ever created, these comic-inspired shoes celebrate Chinese basketball star Guo Ailun. The out of this world colourway leans heavily on the retro designs of the past, making them an awesome crossover of old-school and new.

Year: 2020

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17. 2020 Nike Air Jordan Retro 4 IV Black Cat Light Graphite

Featuring a Black and Light Graphite colour scheme, this take on the classic Air Jordan 4 is straight out of Black Panther. It cops a full black-based upper with minor hints of grey on the Jumpman Flight tongue tags.

Year: 2020
Upper material: Leather
Colourway: Black/Black Light Graphite

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18. Nike Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG Origin Story Spider-Man

If you’ve been asking yourself what Air Jordans Spider-Man would wear, you’re bizarrely in luck. These 2018 Air Jordan I sneakers are designed with old Spidey in mind. The footwear comes with a white upper plus red accents, black Nike “Swoosh”, white midsole, and a translucent sole.

Year: 2018
Upper material: Leather
Colourway: Gym-Red/Black-White-Photo Blue

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19. Jordan 1 Retro High Zoom White Racer Blue

This “Racer Blue” Jordan 1 High Zoom is one of the best Air Jordans of all time. Featuring a premium white leather upper that’s paired with silver overlays, this version of the iconic high-top silhouette is a stand-out. The collar has also been altered, adding a transparent mesh material that is stamped with the brand’s “Wings” logo.

Year: 2020
Upper material: Leather
Colourway: White/Racer Blue-White

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20. Air Jordan 3 Knicks Retro III

Another throwback beast, the Air 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, Jordan 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.

Year: 2019
Upper material: Leather
Outsole material: Leather
Colourway: White/Old Royal-University Orange-Tech Grey

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21. Nike Air Jordan 5 Retro SP V AJ5 OFF-WHITE Muslin Grey Black

The second Air Jordan to be designed in collaboration with Off-White founder Virgil Abloh, this AJ5 pays homage to the first Jordan that Virgil ever owned, the Air Jordan 5 Black Metallic. With trademark flair, Abloh has reimagined the traditional silhouette with modern Nike Air tech to create a modern classic.

Year: 2019
Upper material: Synthetic
Outsole material: Leather
Shoe shaft style: High Top
Colourway: Black/Muslin Fire-Red

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22. Nike Air Jordan 1 Mid ‘Triple White’

A staple of the inner-city rapper’s wardrobe, the Air Jordan Triple White is as crispy as they come. With a white on white on white colourway, this is undoubtedly one of the best Air Jordan shoes of all time, just don’t get them dirty.

Year: 2020
Upper material: Leather
Outsole material: Leather
Shoe shaft style: High Top
Colourway: White/White/White

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23. 2018 Nike Air Jordan 11 Concord XI

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.

Year: 2018
Colourway: White/Black-Concord
Cushioning: Maximum
Shoe shaft style: High Top

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24. Nike Air Jordan 12 Retro Reverse Taxi XII Black White 2019

The Reverse Taxi Air Jordan XII is pretty much the polar opposite to its more traditional counterpart. Where the original paired white leathers with the famous mudguard, this variation swaps them for textural black nubuck. Whether you are into it or not, you can’t deny that these are some of the best Air Jordan sneakers we’ve seen for a while.

Year: 2019
Colourway: Black/Black-White-Taxi
Cushioning: Maximum
Shoe shaft style: High Top

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25. 2019 Nike Air Jordan 6 VI Retro OG Black INFRARED

INFRARED is pretty much the ultimate Air Jordan sneaker. This Jordan 6 INFRARED pair features a black upper, black midsole plus red accents, and a translucent sole.

Year: 2019
Colourway: Black/Infrared
Cushioning: Maximum
Shoe shaft style: High Top

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Where to Buy the Best Air Jordan Shoes

While you could scope out a rare pair of Air Jordan shoes at a consignment store or sneakerhead meet, the places that you’ll find the real gems and best looking Air Jordans is more obvious than you’d think. E-commerce giant eBay has the widest selection of Air Jordan shoes on the market, with an average 500,000 sneaker listings every day. In fact, a pair of shoes is purchased on eBay every 1.5 seconds, thanks primarily to eBay’s transactional features. Back in December 2019, eBay introduced zero selling fees for the first time for North American customers on any sneakers sold at $100 or more. Buyers win too; the marketplace announces a month of drops, celebrating the biggest designer collaborations, top brands, and rare grails of the year.

If you’re in the mood to celebrate the GOAT in style, any of these 25 amazing Air Jordans will fit the bill. Just don’t think you’ll be able to dunk as a result.

Check out more Air Jordan’s here

What are the top-selling Jordans?

The Air Jordan Bred 11s are the top-selling Jordans on Ebay, according to North American sales data from 2004 to 2020.

What are the most expensive Jordans ever sold?

The most expensive pair of Air Jordan shoes ever sold were the Air Jordan 12s from MJ’s infamous ‘Flu Game’. The pair he was wearing on the night sold for USD$104,000 at an auction, making them the most expensive air ever sold.

When were the first pair of Jordan’s released?

The Air Jordan 1, designed by Peter Moore was the first pair ever released. The pair first made the appearance in 1985 and were priced at $65.