Verdict from 4 experts and 12 user reviews

7 reasons to buy

  • A handful of reviewers declare that the Air Jordan XXI is a very comfortable basketball sneaker.
  • The DNA-like traction pattern does an excellent job on all court conditions, nearly all testers report.
  • Most testers are content with the overall cushioning. Players have something similar to say about the AJ 33’s cushioning.
  • A couple of buyers like this shoe’s Bentley-inspired silhouette. They say that it is a beautiful shoe and looks dope with sweatpants.
  • Many Air Jordan 21 owners are quite happy with its performance.
  • These Air Jordan basketball shoes provide excellent support, stability, and containment according to most testers.
  • Just like the AJ 12 Retro, several commenters are saying that the AJ 21 is a well-built basketball shoe.

4 reasons not to buy

  • These Air Jordan basketball shoes are pricey, an owner remarks.
  • A tester points out that the heel cushioning is too targeted.
  • The AJ XXI runs large, one tester reports. Because of this, there is some side-to-side movement in the forefoot.
  • A few users report that the laces are thin and gets untied rather easily.

Bottom line

When it comes to performance, the Air Jordan XXI does a pretty good job on the court. These basketball shoes provide excellent traction, support, containment, and comfort. However, testers are not impressed with the interchangeable IPS cushioning at the heel. It is quite ineffective and downright gimmicky.

In spite of all its innovations, the Air Jordan XX1 falls short of being a must-have performance basketball shoe. Although, Jordanheads looking to expand their collection may want to cop this slept-on model.

Tip: see the best basketball shoes.

Good to know

Three years after officially retiring from the NBA, Michael Jordan was ready to pass on the torch to the next generation. The Air Jordan XXI is infused with the “DNA” of a champion and is designed to inspire young athletes to aim for greatness.

“With last year’s Air Jordan XX, we looked back and celebrated the past twenty years,” Michael explains, “The Air Jordan XXI is a look toward the future. We’re making the shoe more luxurious and more advanced in terms of technology, which sets the stage for the brand going into the next twenty years.”

With D’Wayne Edwards at the helm, Michael’s charge of creating a clean and simple silhouette packed with performance-driven technologies was achieved. The Air Jordan 21’s Bentley-inspired look boasts of either a full-grain leather or rich suede upper. It features a diamond-quilted inner sleeve for comfort, grille-like panels for ventilation, a molded heel counter for support, and an advanced Independent Podular Suspension technology for cushioning.

Jordan Brand didn’t skip a beat even after Michael called it quits. The AJ XXI stays true to Michael’s legacy while also leading the franchise into the future.

“It is always an honor to work with Michael Jordan and design in true collaboration with him,” D’Wayne states, “We kept both his style and the true Jordan consumer in mind when we designed the shoe, continuing our tradition of creating technologically-superior basketball footwear.”

Cushion. 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.

The Air Jordan XXI also introduced a more advanced version of the Independent Podular Suspension (IPS) system. At the heel, an IPS chamber allows the wearer to modify the cushioning support by selecting between a Zoom Air pillar or an Encapsulated Air pillar.

The Zoom Air pillar provides softer cushioning for enhanced responsiveness while the Encapsulated Air pillar offers firmer cushioning for better shock absorption.

Traction. The Air Jordan 21 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.

Length and Width. Little information is available regarding how these Air Jordan basketball shoes actually fit. It is still best to get your real size when ordering.

Lockdown. The Air Jordan XXI has a seamless diamond-quilted inner cleatie that provides a comfortable fit. The shoe’s adjustable lace-up closure keeps the foot in place while a molded heel counter delivers extended ankle support.

Perceived as an item of luxury, the AJ 21 sets the tone for future Air Jordan models with its sophisticated style and groundbreaking technology.

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. Grille-like lower foot vents provide ventilation while a breathable mesh tongue helps dissipate heat.

Similar to previous Air Jordan models, D’Wayne Edwards also looked to luxurious automobiles for inspiration. The Air Jordan XXI’s simple yet stylish silhouette is fashioned after a Bentley Continental GT coupe.

To battle the ever-growing problem of counterfeit products, Edwards also included a ciphered message that 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 are genuine.

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.


How Air Jordan 21 ranks compared to all other shoes
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Dimitrije Curcic
Dimitrije Curcic

Dimitrije Curcic has been playing basketball for over 22 years. Like Manu Ginobili, he’s a left-hander whose moves led him to a better career-shooting percentage than the Argentine himself. After playing professionally for 10 years, Dimitrije moved to coaching for two seasons before he became a basketball statistician for StatScore, and FanSided contributor for the San Antonio Spurs. Dimitrije loves to tell hoop stories through numbers and graphics and has been featured on Fansided, FiveThirtyEight, Eurohoops, and TalkBasket among the others.