Our verdict


When it comes to performance, the Air Jordan XXI does a pretty good job. But at present, this is not the shoe people buy for use on the court; they buy it mostly for their collections because it has a mind-blowing number of unique details that make it stand out. It also screams "premium" all over and its resell prices can hit skyrocketing numbers.


  • Superb comfort
  • Grippy in all court conditions
  • Great cushioning
  • Beautiful silhouette
  • Excellent support
  • Adjustable lacing system
  • Well-built shoe
  • Interchangeable cushioning pods
  • Different quote on each shoe
  • Premium details all over


  • Not breathable for basketball
  • Stiff at first
  • Heavy

Who should buy the Air Jordan 21

This Air Jordan basketball shoe is a good match for you if:

  • You want a very unique Air Jordan to be added to your collection
  • You like seeing and testing pioneering technology
  • You are after a pair with excellent grip on all types of basketball court
  • You want a shoe that provides stability and excellent support for a smooth performance

Who should not buy the Air Jordan 21

This shoe has a few flaws that might push you away from it, so here are our recommended alternatives. For a more breathable pair, look at Air Jordan 6. If you're looking for something softer and more comfortable straight out of the box, consider the Air Jordan 22. 

Reliable support

According to hoopers, this Air Jordan basketball shoe provides excellent support, stability, and containment. These innovative basketball shoes have a double-lasted Phylon midsole that delivers a low-to-the-ground feel. A carbon fiber midfoot shank plate offers maximum arch support and torsional rigidity. For some, this carbon-fiber plate was the cause of irritation in the arch, but it went away as the shoe was broken in and feet got used to the shoes. 

Get a genuine Jordan only

To battle the ever-growing problem of counterfeit products, there's a ciphered message included and it can only be seen with the use of a blacklight. Once decoded, the letters would read “authentic” so that owners are confident that their pair of Jordans is genuine. Also, what is really unique about the 21, next to having comfort pods you can change, is that each shoe has a different quote/word on the inside of the tongue. 

Premium all over

Everything looks and feels premium on this shoe: upper that's very nice to the touch, chromium lace tips, and carbon fiber on the outsole... Even the inside lining resembles the stitching found in fancy cars! 

The upper is made of either richly-textured full-grain leather or supple Italian suede. A foam-backed collar perfectly complements the seamless inner sleeve for maximum comfort. 

Customizable cushioning 

Equipped with a more advanced version of the Independent Podular Suspension (IPS) system, many praise the heel of the Air Jordan 21 as it allows them to choose between a Zoom Air pillar or an Encapsulated Air pillar.

The IPS provides softer cushioning for enhanced responsiveness while the Encapsulated Air pillar offers firmer cushioning for better shock absorption. Most buyers are content with the overall cushioning, commenting that the cushioning is similar to AJ 33.

Air Jordan 21 grips everything

When it comes to traction, basketball players have nothing but praise for this pair. Many mention that this pair grips the surface well regardless of court type. This makes sense given that this shoe features an innovative double-helix-inspired traction pattern that offers exceptional multidirectional grip on the hardwood.

Through raised herringbone pods, the strategically placed IPS technology integrates with the outsole and enhances traction in key performance areas.

Needs a short break in

According to some basketball players, this shoe is stiff at first. It needs a few days of regular use for the comfort to come to the spotlight.

Adjustable yet thin laces

The majority of its verified buyers mention that the shoe has an adjustable lace-up closure that keeps their feet in place. However, a few users share that the laces are thin and get untied rather easily.

Lacks breathability 

Hoopers notice that this shoe is not as breathable as they wanted when they tested this on the court. Fortunately, there are no reports of sweaty feet from those who use this shoe casually.

Air Jordan 21: Colorways

Seven original colorways, including two low-tops, were made available during the Air Jordan XXI’s initial run. After that, only one retro colorway was introduced as part of the Air Jordan Countdown Pack (CDP).

  • Original White/Varsity Red/Metallic Silver
  • Original Varsity Red/Black/Metallic Silver
  • Original Black/Flint Grey/White
  • Original Light Graphite/Metallic Silver/White/University Blue
  • Original White/Metallic Silver/Black
  • Air Jordan 21 Retro Black/Metallic Silver - Varsity Red Countdown Pack

Jordan Brand relied on their stable of stars like Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, Mike Bibby, Quentin Richardson, and Eddie Jones to endorse the AJ XXI. PE colorways for these stars were also released.