3 Best Air Jordans in 2024

Dimitrije Curcic
Dimitrije Curcic on
3 Best Air Jordans in 2024
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No matter what generation you belong to, basketball is still Michael Jordan; and Michael Jordan is basketball. He is that legendary. He is that influential. 

Given all that, it should not surprise anyone that his main line of signature shoes is still releasing new models almost two decades after his final retirement. There are now more than 50 Air Jordan models, including retros and special releases.

Through the years, the Air Jordans are known for their quality and performance. They feel premium and they play so well. But there is a hierarchy even among the best. So, we tested the Air Jordans and evaluated which ones exceeded our standards during our wear and lab tests. We are helping you tease apart the legendary from the great. It’s not an easy task, but it sure is worthwhile.

How we test basketball shoes

The things we, as well as the Air Jordan basketball shoes, go through just to conclude which are the best ones is a long and harrowing (yet still enjoyable) procedure. Here's everything you should know:

  • We buy the shoes using our own cash. Don’t get us wrong, we are grateful for freebies, but they may steer us away from being bias-free.
  • We test Air Jordan basketball shoes in actual games. We play in them multiple times, indoors and outdoors, so we can safely form our evidence-based opinions.
  • We send the basketball shoes back to our lab and we measure their parameters such as durability. For checking the durability, apart from wear tests, we focus on the abrasive effects of our Dremel with different kinds of attachments. The areas we apply the tool are the upper, outsole, and sock liner. 

Best overall Air Jordan basketball shoes

What makes it the best?

Among all the Air Jordans that we have played in, it is the AJ 37 (and rightfully so!) that made the most lasting impact on us. We were enamored by its consistent grip on different kinds of courts. We were also impressed by its propensity for speed and extreme breathability.

Even when the courts were dusty, the Air Jordan XXXVII’s bite on the court remained amazing and dependable. Concrete, hardwood, and even asphalt, this shoe just kept on biting and biting. Because of this, we never lost the confidence to run toward the basket and attempt to score.

Accelerating was never a problem, either, because of the shoe’s clasp on the foot and the responsiveness that we experienced from the midsole. Indeed, this Air Jordan shoe is for those players whose roles require them to run up and down the court a lot.

Finally, we appreciated the airiness of this Air Jordan basketball shoe. Not once did we feel uncomfortably damp because of sweat. And this remained true even if our games dragged on for long periods.

It’s just a little unfortunate that this shoe cannot be used straight out of the box as it required a break-in period.

Pros

  • A nimble performer
  • Dust-resistant grip on indoor courts
  • Incredibly bouncy forefoot
  • Nice court feel
  • Extreme breathability
  • True-to-size fit
  • Comfortably supportive
  • High-quality laces
  • Outdoor-ready

Cons

  • Not enough plushness
  • Cheap-feeling upper materials
  • Has to be broken in
Full review of Air Jordan XXXVII

Best low-top Air Jordan basketball shoes

What makes it the best?

For a low-top, the Air Jordan 37 Low has an amazing clasp around the ankle. Not once did we have to second guess our moves because of some random wobbliness. Hence, our runs up and down the court became more purposeful and focused. Speaking of runs, the shoe's notable forefoot flex and immense breathability made them a lot easier and more comfortable. Hands down, the 37 low is the best low-top in Jordan's lineup.

The sidewalls and the heel counter work together quite successfully to deliver the amount of lockdown that kept our focus on the game. Even for this reason alone, we were already eager to bet our money on the Air Jordan 37 Low.

Of course, the shoe did not stop there. It made us enjoy one of the smoothest forefoot flexes ever, allowing us to enjoy a lot of springback which in turn made our steps a lot more efficient.

The shoe's amazing breathability made it even more worthwhile to wear even beyond the court. Sweat dries even before it can cause any form of discomfort. Because of this benefit, the Air Jordan 37 Low becomes a shoe that we don't mind wearing for hours on end.

It's just too regretful that this Jordan shoe cannot be used outdoors. Its outsole is just not cut out for such a high-pressure environment.

Pros

  • Just a lot of bounce
  • Great traction on indoor courts
  • Breathable upper materials
  • Fairly comfortable feel
  • Effective impact absorption
  • True-to-size fit
  • Notably good ankle lockdown
  • Nicely felt forefoot flex
  • Pretty smooth heel-to-toe transition

Cons

  • Still needs time for break-in
  • Not for outdoor use
Full review of Air Jordan 37 Low

Best retro Air Jordan basketball shoes

Air Jordan 6
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What makes it the best?

Retros are valued often because of the nostalgia that they invoke. But the Air Jordan 6 begs to differ. This one delivered more than just some good old reminiscing. It felt immensely durable. It also delivered a lot of court feel and comfort. It’s easily the best retro Air Jordan in our books.

Durability seems to be this shoe’s most noticeable highlight. Even the harshest toe draggers among us were not able to destroy the integrity of both the upper and outsole.

Being big on court feel, the Air Jordan 6 was also appreciated by guards. This shoe allowed us to feel the floor well and accelerate with much ease. It also helped make quick direction changes.

The breathability of the upper and the softness of the neoprene sleeve contributed to the comfort that we enjoyed while playing ball. We did not feel any pain or even feel comfortable because of how comfortable this basketball shoe felt.

This shoe would have been a lot more notable had the traction been better. We just didn’t like how sloppy we felt on some surfaces, especially the really smooth ones.

Pros

  • Sturdy and durable
  • Great every-day sneaker
  • Really stylish look
  • Breathable
  • Good ground feel
  • Neoprene sleeve boosts comfort
  • Variety of colorways and materials
  • Okay grip on clean courts

Cons

  • Minimal cushioning
  • Subpar traction
  • Sloppy fit
Full review of Air Jordan 6

The world of basketball and sneaker culture was forever transformed with the introduction of Jordan Brand. Established in 1997 as a subsidiary of Nike, Jordan Brand pays tribute to the legendary basketball player Michael Jordan and his impact on the game.

Known for their unique designs, innovative technology, and iconic Jumpman logo, Air Jordan basketball shoes have become more than just footwear; they are a symbol of excellence, style, and performance on and off the court.

With a wide array of models, designs, and technologies to choose from, understanding the key factors that align with your playing style and preferences is essential. This guide is designed to help you navigate the selection process, ensuring you make an informed choice that optimises your performance, comfort, and style on the basketball court.

When delving into the world of Air Jordan basketball shoes, it's essential to understand the distinct collections that cater to varying preferences and performance needs. Navigating through these collections empowers you to make an informed choice that aligns with your playing style, aesthetics, and desired level of performance on the court.

Air Jordan Performance Line

This collection showcases the latest innovations, catering to the demands of modern basketball players. The Performance Line serves as a testing ground for cutting-edge technologies that revolutionise the game. From responsive cushioning setups to advanced traction patterns, these innovations are engineered to enhance agility, speed, and overall athleticism on the court.

Air Jordan Retro Line

The Air Jordan Retro Line stands as a testament to the brand's legacy and impact on sneaker culture. These shoes celebrate the heritage of the Air Jordan franchise by reintroducing classic designs from the timeless Air Jordan 1 to the distinctive Air Jordan 11, each release captures the essence of the era it represents, allowing wearers to relive moments of basketball history.

Key Features to Look for in  Air Jordan Basketball Shoes

Ankle support and collar design

Air Jordan basketball shoes offer different collar heights, high-top, low-top and mid-top each catering to specific preferences and playing styles. High-tops prioritise maximum ankle support, reducing the risk of injuries but potentially limiting agility. Low-tops favour agility and rapid movements, while mid-tops find a balanced compromise between ankle protection and mobility.

Impact of collar design on ankle stability

The collar design plays a crucial role in ankle stability. High-top collars extend above the ankle, offering robust support and protection against excessive eversion and inversion. Mid-top collars provide moderate protection, striking a balance between support and agility. Low-top collars prioritise freedom of movement but offer minimal ankle support.

Addressing the trade-off between support and flexibility

Selecting the right collar design involves navigating the trade-off between ankle support and flexibility. Assess your playing style and vulnerability to ankle injuries when choosing a collar height.

If you’re a player who thrives off the peace of mind that comes from the extra protection allowing you to play at max intensity, you should opt for a high-top shoe in order to play at your best. On the other hand, if you’re a player who feels restriction in high-top shoes, look into mid-tops or low-tops in order to make the best use of your speed and agility.

Cushioning

Air Jordan offers an array of cushioning setups to cater to diverse player preferences and styles of play. Some models feature Air-Sole units, which are pressurised chambers filled with air that deliver optimal impact absorption and energy return. Others incorporate Zoom Air technology, consisting of tightly stretched fibres that spring back quickly upon impact, ensuring rapid responsiveness.

Variety of Cushioning Setups in Air Jordan Basketball Shoes

Air Units: Air Jordan basketball shoes often incorporate Air units within the midsole. Air units consist of pressurised chambers filled with air that provide exceptional impact absorption and cushioning. This technology is well-suited for players seeking a balance between comfort and responsiveness. Players who prioritise comfort during extended court time, such as power forwards and centres, can benefit from the plush cushioning of Air units.

Air-Sole Units: These units utilise a full-length Air-Sole cushioning setup, extending the entire length of the midsole. This configuration provides consistent cushioning and responsiveness throughout your stride. Air-sole units excel in promoting energy return, making them an excellent choice for players who rely on explosive movements. Guards and forwards who emphasise quick cuts and transitions can benefit from the springy responsiveness of Air-Sole units.

Air Strobel Units: This technology involves placing an Air unit directly beneath the insole, creating a cushioned layer that maximises comfort and impact protection. The Air unit is encapsulated within a flexible strobel board, ensuring a smooth transition and minimising the sensation of impact.

Air Strobel units are suitable for players seeking a balance of comfort and responsiveness. All positions can benefit from this technology, especially those who value a well-cushioned yet supportive feel.

Choosing the Right Cushioning Setup for Your Style:

When selecting Air Jordan basketball shoes, consider your playing style, position, and personal preferences regarding cushioning responsiveness and impact protection. Models with different cushioning setups offer varying levels of impact absorption and energy return, allowing you to tailor your choice to match your unique needs on the court.

Traction and Outsole Design

Effective traction is essential for executing quick cuts, pivots, and direction changes with confidence. Air Jordan’s performance range employs various traction patterns for different court conditions, enhancing your control over the game's dynamics.

Indoor courts

Indoor courts offer consistent and relatively smooth surfaces. Traction and manoeuvrability are crucial, as the court's surface enables quick movements and sharp cuts. Look for shoes with non-marking outsoles that provide a reliable grip on polished hardwood.

Note that indoor courts can become dusty, affecting grip and traction. Look for Air Jordans with a traction pattern that excels at picking up traction on potentially slippery surfaces. Shoes with a tightly spaced herringbone pattern or modified herringbone are effective in combatting dust buildup.

Outdoor courts

Outdoor courts vary widely in texture and quality. The rugged and abrasive nature of asphalt demands shoes that can withstand wear and tear. 

Outdoor courts often lack the consistent grip of indoor surfaces due to variations in texture and weather. Choose shoes with Dense outsoles and deep traction patterns to handle outdoor conditions effectively.

The Air Jordan 36 line is a great example featuring Nike’s XDR technology for durability in outdoor play.

More on Choosing Outdoor Basketball Shoes

Multidirectional traction patterns

Air Jordan commonly uses herringbone and multidirectional radial designs for a suction traction effect on indoor courts. Herringbone patterns offer multidirectional grip and are especially adept at rapid changes in direction. Multidirectional patterns enhance grip during pivots and crossovers.

Fit and comfort

Achieving a snug fit is pivotal for preventing foot slippage inside the shoe. A well-fitted Air Jordan basketball shoe enhances your control, responsiveness, and overall comfort on the court. Avoid excessively tight fits that lead to discomfort or blisters.

Factors affecting fit

Factors like shoe length, width, and lacing systems influence fit. Pay attention to sizing charts provided by the manufacturer and consider going half a size up if needed. Experiment with different lacing techniques to customise the fit according to your foot shape and preferences.

Air Jordans for wide feet

Air Jordan does relatively well in accommodating players with wider feet. The Air Jordan 36 and 37 ranges are known for catering to a wider foot profile while maintaining the brand's signature style and performance. Players with extra wide feet may want to consider going a half size up from their usual size for added comfort. While this is a go-to option for many players, please make sure to accurately measure your feet first.

More on measuring shoe size.

Breathability and Ventilation

Why Breathability Matters During Intense Gameplay: 

Intense gameplay and hot weather can cause heat and moisture buildup in your Basketball shoes. Breathable Air Jordan basketball shoes are designed to counteract this effect. By maintaining a cool and dry environment for your feet, enhanced breathability contributes to your overall comfort and performance during rigorous play.

Mechanisms Employed for Optimal Ventilation:

Engineered mesh uppers are a hallmark feature of Air Jordan’s Performance line, strategically woven to allow air circulation while maintaining structural integrity. Additionally, perforations strategically placed across the shoe's surface facilitate air exchange, preventing heat accumulation and ensuring a refreshing feel throughout the game.

Air Jordan basketball shoes also address ventilation at the midsole level. Some models feature perforations or channels within the midsole foam, allowing air to circulate from the bottom of the shoe upward. This holistic approach to ventilation ensures that every part of your foot experiences improved airflow, minimising the risk of discomfort due to heat buildup.

Frequently asked questions

Are Retro Air Jordans still good for Basketball?

The short answer is yes. Retro Air Jordans are still good for playing basketball. However, they often don’t match up when compared to today’s performance market. Retro Air Jordans are often heavier shoes, constructed with premium materials that increase the cost of the shoe and may lack some of the cutting-edge technologies found in modern basketball footwear.

What is the significance of the number in the Air Jordan model name?

The number in the Air Jordan model name usually corresponds to the order in which the shoe was released. For example, Air Jordan 1 was the first model released, followed by Air Jordan 2 with about 1 shoe being released per year. Totaling 38 signature shoes so far.

Why do some Air Jordans have higher resale prices?

Limited editions, rare colorways, and collaborations with artists or brands can lead to higher resale prices for certain Air Jordan models. The exclusivity and demand for these special releases contribute to their increased value in the secondary market.

Author
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.