Since his legendary career began in 1984, basketball superstar Michael Jordan has worn many iconic sneakers on the hardwood. But if you’re looking for a quick answer on MJ’s all-time favorite kicks, most fans and experts agree it’s the Air Jordan XI ‘Concord’.
This clean black and white colorway was first released in 1995 and Jordan wore the XI model during the Chicago Bulls’ epic 72-10 season.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a nostalgic walk through the sneakers that His Airness laced up in his early days with the Bulls, during his first retirement, upon his return to the league, and beyond.
We’ll explore the technology, design stories, and cultural impact behind over 15 Air Jordans that Jordan rocked in the NBA. Whether you’re a sneakerhead, basketball fanatic, or simply want to learn about the shoes that helped cement MJ’s legendary style and swagger, this article will give you the details on Michael Jordan’s favorite sneakers from his storied career.
Jordan’s Early Career and the Origins of Air Jordans (1984-1989)
During the early years of his career, Michael Jordan quickly established himself as one of the most talented and exciting players in the NBA. His explosive playing style and unmatched skills on the court captivated fans around the world.
However, it was not just Jordan’s gameplay that made him a legend, but also his signature line of shoes – the Air Jordans.
Air Jordan I (1985) – The Original Game Changer
The Air Jordan I, released in 1985, was a groundbreaking shoe that revolutionized the sneaker industry. Designed by Peter Moore, this iconic silhouette introduced the world to the concept of a signature basketball shoe.
With its bold color schemes, high-top design, and Nike’s innovative Air cushioning technology, the Air Jordan I was an instant hit.
Not only did the Air Jordan I provide exceptional performance on the court, but it also made a bold fashion statement off the court. The shoe’s popularity skyrocketed, and it became a cultural phenomenon.
Sneakerheads and basketball enthusiasts alike clamored to get their hands on a pair of Air Jordans, solidifying their status as a must-have item.
Air Jordan III (1988) – Tinker Hatfield’s First Design
In 1988, Nike brought in legendary designer Tinker Hatfield to create the third edition of the Air Jordans. Hatfield’s design expertise and creative vision led to the creation of the Air Jordan III, which would prove to be a game-changer for both Jordan and the sneaker industry.
The Air Jordan III introduced a new level of innovation and style. It featured visible Air cushioning in the heel, a first for the Air Jordan line, providing enhanced comfort and responsiveness. Additionally, the shoe showcased the iconic Jumpman logo and introduced the now-traditional elephant print detailing.
The Air Jordan III also marked a turning point in Jordan’s career. It was during the 1988-1989 season, while wearing the Air Jordan III, that Jordan won his first NBA MVP award and led the Chicago Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals.
This shoe became an integral part of his journey to becoming the greatest basketball player of all time.
Air Jordan IV (1989) – Jordan’s Second MVP Season
The Air Jordan IV, released in 1989, continued to push the boundaries of performance and style. Designed by Tinker Hatfield, this shoe featured a unique combination of mesh and nubuck materials, providing both breathability and durability on the court.
The Air Jordan IV also introduced several design elements that have become iconic in the Air Jordan line. It featured a plastic wing-like support system on the sides, known as “wings,” and a visible Air unit in the heel for superior cushioning.
During the 1988-1989 season, Jordan had another outstanding performance while wearing the Air Jordan IV. He won his second consecutive NBA MVP award, solidifying his status as the league’s most dominant player.
The Air Jordan IV became a symbol of his greatness and further cemented the legacy of the Air Jordan line.
The early years of Michael Jordan’s career were not only marked by his incredible skills on the court but also by the introduction of the Air Jordans. These shoes became more than just footwear; they became a cultural phenomenon and a symbol of Jordan’s greatness.
The Air Jordan I, Air Jordan III, and Air Jordan IV each played a significant role in shaping both Jordan’s career and the sneaker industry as a whole.
The First Three-Peat: MJ’s Dominance in the Early ’90s (1990-1993)
Air Jordan V (1990) – Debut of the Iconic Shark Teeth
The Air Jordan V, released in 1990, marked a significant milestone in Michael Jordan’s on-court shoe collection. Designed by the legendary Tinker Hatfield, these shoes introduced the iconic “shark teeth” design on the midsole.
The Air Jordan V also featured a reflective tongue and a clear outsole, making it stand out both on and off the court. Its innovative features and sleek design quickly made it a fan favorite.
Air Jordan VI (1991) – Jordan’s First Title Without Pippen
In 1991, Michael Jordan won his first NBA championship without his trusted sidekick, Scottie Pippen. The Air Jordan VI, released the same year, played a role in this historic victory. These shoes featured a reinforced toe cap and a molded heel tab that provided better ankle support.
With a combination of style and performance, the Air Jordan VI helped Jordan solidify his dominance on the court.
Air Jordan VII (1992) – The Olympics Dream Team Model
The Air Jordan VII, released in 1992, holds a special place in Michael Jordan’s sneaker legacy. These shoes were worn by Jordan during the historic “Dream Team” run in the Barcelona Olympics. Designed with input from Jordan himself, the Air Jordan VII featured a unique neoprene sleeve and a Huarache-like inner bootie, providing a snug and comfortable fit.
This model showcased Jordan’s versatility and adaptability as a player.
Air Jordan VIII (1993) – Three-Peat Achieved in Retro+ Model
In 1993, Michael Jordan achieved his first three-peat, winning three consecutive NBA championships. The Air Jordan VIII, released the same year, was the shoe he wore during this remarkable feat. These shoes featured a unique crisscross strap system for added ankle support and a bold, futuristic design.
The Retro+ model of the Air Jordan VIII became an instant hit among sneaker enthusiasts, combining style and performance in one package.
The early ’90s were a golden era for Michael Jordan and his sneaker line. Each shoe in his collection during this period showcased innovation, style, and performance, solidifying his status as the greatest of all time. To learn more about Michael Jordan’s favorite shoes, visit www.nike.com.
Jordan’s First Retirement and Return to Basketball (1994-1998)
After the tragic murder of his father in 1993, Michael Jordan shocked the world by announcing his retirement from basketball. The loss of his beloved father led MJ to seek solace in a totally different sport – baseball.
During this time, Jordan needed a shoe that could accommodate his cross-training needs, and thus, the Air Jordan IX was born in 1993. With its unique design and exceptional comfort, the Air Jordan IX became the go-to shoe for MJ as he pursued his baseball dreams.
Air Jordan IX (1993) – MJ Plays Baseball in Cross-Training Model
The Air Jordan IX was a departure from the previous models in terms of design. It featured a minimalist aesthetic with a sleek upper and a unique “Rising Sun” pattern on the heel. This shoe not only provided the necessary support and cushioning for basketball, but it also proved to be versatile enough for Jordan’s endeavors on the baseball diamond.
The Air Jordan IX became a symbol of Jordan’s resilience and determination during this transitional period of his career.
Air Jordan XI (1995) – The Concord Makes its Debut
One of the most iconic shoes in the Air Jordan line, the Air Jordan XI made its debut in 1995. This shoe marked Jordan’s return to basketball after a brief hiatus. The standout colorway of the Air Jordan XI was the legendary “Concord” edition, which featured a white upper, black patent leather mudguard, and icy blue outsole.
The Air Jordan XI not only captured the attention of sneakerheads worldwide but also helped solidify Jordan’s status as a fashion icon both on and off the court.
Air Jordan XII (1996) – Flu Game Shoe drops in Taxi Colorway
The Air Jordan XII was released in 1996 and was worn by Jordan during one of his most memorable and legendary performances – the Flu Game. In Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz, Jordan battled a severe case of the flu but managed to lead the Chicago Bulls to victory with 38 points.
The Air Jordan XII, particularly in the “Taxi” colorway, became synonymous with this iconic moment in basketball history. Its sleek design and comfortable fit made it a favorite among fans and collectors alike.
Air Jordan XIII (1997) – Last Dance in Chicago
The Air Jordan XIII was released in 1997 and was the last shoe that Jordan wore during his final season with the Chicago Bulls. Known as the “Last Dance” shoe, it featured a unique panther paw-inspired outsole and a holographic “Jumpman” logo.
The Air Jordan XIII holds a special place in the hearts of basketball fans as it represents the end of an era for Jordan and the Bulls. Its sleek design, innovative features, and historical significance make it a must-have for any sneaker enthusiast.
Wizards Era and Retirement (1999-2003)
After his second retirement from basketball in 1999, Michael Jordan surprised the world by returning to the NBA in 2001, this time as a member of the Washington Wizards. This new chapter in his career meant that he needed a fresh pair of kicks to match his new team colors and continue his legacy on the court.
Air Jordan XVII (2002) – MJ’s Second Comeback Shoe
The Air Jordan XVII was released in 2002 and became the second shoe Jordan wore during his second comeback. Designed by Wilson Smith III, this shoe was a reflection of Jordan’s matured style. It featured a sleek silhouette with a lace cover inspired by jazz music and Aston Martin cars.
The shoe also incorporated advanced technology, such as a carbon fiber sheath for support and a removable midfoot strap for a customizable fit. Despite being in his late thirties at the time, Jordan showcased his incredible skills and athleticism while wearing the Air Jordan XVII.
Air Jordan XVIII (2003) – Jordan’s Final NBA Season
The Air Jordan XVIII was the shoe that accompanied Jordan during his final NBA season in 2003. Designed by Tate Kuerbis, this shoe exuded elegance and sophistication. It featured a unique shroud that could be removed to reveal a sleek, low-cut basketball shoe underneath.
The shoe also incorporated high-quality materials like premium leather and suede, giving it a luxurious feel. Although Jordan’s performance wasn’t as dominant as in his prime, he still managed to leave a lasting impression on the court while wearing the Air Jordan XVIII.
Air Jordan XIX (2003) – MJ’s Last Signature Model
The Air Jordan XIX marked the end of an era as it was the last signature model released during Jordan’s professional basketball career. This shoe, designed by Tate Kuerbis, paid homage to Jordan’s legendary basketball career.
It featured a tech-inspired design with a lightweight and breathable upper, as well as a unique lace cover system for added lockdown and support. The Air Jordan XIX also introduced the use of a Phylon midsole and Zoom Air cushioning for enhanced comfort and responsiveness on the court.
With the Air Jordan XIX, Jordan bid farewell to the NBA in style.
Throughout his 15 seasons in the NBA, Michael Jordan elevated both his on-court game and off-court style to legendary status. The Air Jordans he wore were much more than just shoes – they were symbols of MJ’s unmatched athleticism, competitive spirit, and everlasting cultural influence.
While it’s nearly impossible to choose just one favorite from Jordan’s storied sneaker lineage, the Air Jordan XI ‘Concord’ represents the perfect blend of performance and aesthetic appeal that His Airness demanded.
From the patent leather accents to the translucent icy outsole, the XI encapsulates Jordan’s flashy style and excellence at the height of his powers with the 1990s Bulls dynasty.