Ranking every Air Jordan sneaker 1-XX9


On Feb. 12, Jordan Brand will release the Air Jordan XXX, the 30th signature model in the Air Jordan line. The first Air Jordan came out more than 30 years ago and its legacy endures to this day. But which Jordan sneaker is the best of the best? To help with that, we brought in an expert: Chad Jones, aka "Sneaker Galactus." Jones has a collection of more than 1,000 pairs of sneakers, has been featured in the BATA Shoe Museum, and had part of his collection exhibited in Brooklyn during 2015's NBA All-Star Weekend.

Now, on to the rankings. If you disagree, you can rank them yourself here.

Still haven't gotten your fill of sneakers? Check out "Friedman's Shoes," an ESPN Films short about the shoe store all the NBA players loved, on the 6 p.m. ET SportsCenter on Friday, February 12 or online here!

29. Air Jordan XV

Adam's Rank: 26 | Chad's Rank: 28

Adam: The saddest thing about this shoe is realizing Mike might've actually worn these on court if he'd played one more season with the Bulls. And going out in these would've been worse than going out in a Wizards jersey.

Chad: Not even design cues taken from the X-15 fighter jet and woven Kevlar materials can save this shoe.

28. Air Jordan 2012

Adam's Rank: 24 | Chad's Rank: 29

Adam: Two different sleeves, three different midsoles. Plain and simple, this shoe was just too complicated. As our friends at "His & Hers" would say, it's doin' too much.

Chad: At least Jordan Brand made the decision to go back to numbered models after this. That's about the only good thing to come of this.

27. Air Jordan XIX

Adam's Rank: 27 | Chad's Rank: 26

Adam: Something about this shoe -- and I can't pinpoint whether it's the mesh shroud, the thick heel strap or the oversized outsole on the heel -- always made it feel more like a boot to me. Also, the no-laces thing was weird.

Chad: This shoe might not have been the most aesthetically pleasing pair of Jordans, but was a decent pair of basketball kicks. Super supportive and very comfortable. Made you feel confidently locked down. Box design was also unique and pretty cool.

26. Air Jordan 2010

Adam's Rank: 29 | Chad's Rank: 23

Adam: There's a hole in the side of the sneaker. Need I say more?

Chad: Dwyane Wade was in the top five in points and rebounds while wearing this shoe. Also MVP of the All-Star Game. Nuff said. Give this shoe a few years and I think this shoe will be a classic.

25. Air Jordan XX2

Adam's Rank:21 | Chad's Rank: 27

Adam: I always thought this looked like an Air Jordan 2 that had a different shoe zippered to the back and bottom of it. And I was never a fan of the titanium midplate.

Chad: Best thing I can remember about the shoe was the commercial. Merp. :-|

24. Air Jordan 2009

Adam's Rank: 23 | Chad's Rank: 24

Adam: The first Jordans that were numbered by year, rather than sequence, were a departure from the line in more ways than one. The split heel was a daring piece of shoe tech that never quite caught on.

Chad: UNC won the national championship with some of the team members rocking a player-exclusive colorway of this shoe. Danny Green of the Spurs was a member of that team. Been following his career since his high school days at St. Mary's of Manhasset, New York, which happens to be my alma mater.

23. Air Jordan 18

Adam's Rank: 25 | Chad's Rank: 21

Adam: These were MJ's last on-court edition of Jordans, and they look like a combination of ideas that came before (the cover on the 15s) and after (the seamless suede of the XX1s). The racing-inspired tread outsole was a strange look too.

Chad: Air Jordan race car driving shoe inspired basketball kicks? How cool is that!

22. Air Jordan XVII

Adam's Rank: 28 | Chad's Rank: 16

Adam: All anyone ever remembers about these is they cost $200 (which was a high price point at the time) and came in a metal briefcase. There was also a CD-ROM included, which was high-tech at the time, but seems silly now.

Chad: Who didn't want the Jordan briefcase? Oh and MJ actually playing in them was cool, too.

21. Air Jordan 2011

Adam's Rank: 20 | Chad's Rank: 22

Adam: These eschewed the drop-in heels of the XX1 for full interchangeable insoles. That made for a nice fit, but from a looks perspective, these always reminded me of a Team Jordan shoe rather than a flagship model.

Chad: Didn't Dwyane Wade win an NBA championship in this shoe? #neverforget

20. Air Jordan XX8

Adam's Rank: 15 | Chad's Rank: 25

Adam: If we were judging these solely on the shroud-less SE version, I'd imagine they'd be a few spots higher (especially as a performance sneaker). But the shroud wasn't really a consumer-friendly look.

Chad: Who wouldn't want a Jordan Flightposite?

19. Air Jordan XX1

Adam's Rank: 18 | Chad's Rank: 20

Adam: These are really comfortable and the leather models (unlike the suede pictured here) tend to look pretty good as well. But the whole drop-in interchangeable heel thing never really caught on.

Chad: I really wanted a Bentley Continental GT coupe. I guess this was the next best thing.

18. Air Jordan XX

Adam's Rank: 22 | Chad's Rank: 15

Adam: The Jordan that introduced laser-etching to the line looks really nice, but for me that ankle strap is a deal breaker. It gives the shoe a weird silhouette and I've never liked how it fits.

Chad: This is a shoe that I would have loved to see MJ play in. The XX looked great on court. My most memorable visions were of Ray Allen playing for the Sonics while wearing these as a Team Jordan member.

17. Air Jordan XVI

Adam's Rank: 16 | Chad's Rank: 17

Adam: Unlike the full shroud on the XX8, the cover on the 16s was removable, and they looked a lot better as an on-court shoe without them.

Chad: The shroud or gaiter was different, but not in a good way. Best part about the shoe was all the exclusives made for players.

16. Air Jordan X

Adam's Rank: 17 | Chad's Rank: 13

Adam: These definitely suffer in comparison to the 9s that came before and, on a larger scale, the 11s that came after. Much like MJ in the 45 jersey suffers in comparison to MJ rocking the 23.

Chad: 55 at The Mecca after coming back from retirement? Had to have a pair!

15. Air Jordan XX9

Adam's Rank: 10 | Chad's Rank: 19

Adam: There tends to be a love/hate relationship with the bold styling of these, particularly when it comes to the oversized logo. But there's no denying that this is one of the most comfortable Jordans ever.

Chad: The possibilities on a shoe like this are endless. I can only imagine what Jordan Brand will be able to do with this shoe's upper in the future. The exclusives were awesome. The public got only a small taste with the "Photo Reel" version.

14. Air Jordan II

Adam's Rank:11 | Chad's Rank: 18

Adam: These tend to get a bad rap among sneakerheads, partly because Michael didn't wear them that long and partly because they look so different from what came before and after. But they're a very solid on-foot sneaker with a clean look.

Chad: The direction this shoe went from its predecessor was the right direction. It was unique without the swoosh and produced in Italy to provide a luxurious feel to it.

13. Air Jordan VIII

Adam's Rank: 19 | Chad's Rank: 9

Adam: The double straps always felt out of place on a pair of Jordans -- like they belonged on a pair of Charles Barkley's sneakers. Ironic, then, that these were the kicks MJ wore when he beat Barkley in the '93 Finals.

Chad: I absolutely loved the commercials for the Air Jordan VIII. MJ teaming up with Bugs Bunny = win every time.

12. Air Jordan XIV

Adam's Rank: 14 | Chad's Rank: 14

Adam: The Ferrari-inspired styling on this shoe had the benefit of looking really good on MJ -- especially as he was crossing up (or pushing off of) Bryon Russell. It didn't look quite as good on everyone else, but few buyers cared.

Chad: MJ rocked these on his way to winning a sixth NBA championship. C'mon, didn't you practice doing the same thing to Bryon Russell at the end of a game?

11. Air Jordan XX3

Adam's Rank: 13 | Chad's Rank: 11

Adam: The 23rd edition of the Air Jordan had to bring something special to the table, and this shoe certainly did that. While it might not have hit the mark 100 percent, it was good enough not to feel like a disappointment to MJ's jersey number.

Chad: First environmentally considered design and IMO the best design post-Jordan's playing days with the Bulls. I could easily see MJ playing in this shoe.

10. Air Jordan IX

Adam's Rank: 12 | Chad's Rank: 12

Adam: This shoe deserves a lot of credit for proving the line could be viable even if Michael wasn't playing basketball. Plus, you have to admit, it looked pretty good as a baseball cleat.

Chad: Some of the best player-exclusive colorways were made for other players. Why? MJ wasn't wearing them. By the way, who is Johnny Kilroy?

9. Air Jordan VI

Adam's Rank: 9 | Chad's Rank: 8

Adam: These could easily get lost when compared to the shoe that came before and after, but the striking tongue design really helps this model stand out. Plus, it was the first shoe MJ wore while winning a ring.

Chad: MJ wins his first championship and Finals MVP in style. The tongue, heel tab and toe were unlike anything seen before .

8. Air Jordan XIII

Adam's Rank: 5 | Chad's Rank: 10

Adam: It's not often a pair of Jordans -- particularly one worn during MJ's run with the Bulls -- gets elevated by someone other than MJ, but that's the case with these, thanks to what was essentially a commercial starring Denzel Washington slipped deftly into the movie "He Got Game."

Chad: Holograms and design inspiration from a Panther? Yeah I'll take two pairs!

7. Air Jordan VII

Adam's Rank: 8 | Chad's Rank: 7

Adam: These were the shoes on Michael's feet when he played with the Dream Team in the 1992 Olympics. That itself would be worthy of a high ranking, but they also look and feel really good.

Chad: Design hints taken from the Huarache line made this shoe a love-it-or-hate-it model. MJ was featured on the Team USA Dream Team that destroyed every other country's team in the 1992 Olympics. Also, you had to love the Hare Jordan!

6. Air Jordan V

Adam's Rank: 6 | Chad's Rank: 5

Adam: As a kid, I remember these more for Will Smith wearing them on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" than for Michael wearing them on the court. Either way, they looked damn good.

Chad: Clear rubber soles, reflective tongues and inspiration taken from the WW II P-51 Mustang fighter made this shoe a cut above the rest.

5. Air Jordan XII

Adam's Rank: 7 | Chad's Rank: 3

Adam: The sneaker that took the Jordan line from a Nike product to its own brand has held up remarkably well through the years, thanks in large part to its association with Michael's epic "Flu Game."

Chad: The Japanese flag inspiration and remarkable durability made this shoe a favorite. And who can forget the "Flu Game," arguably one of the most dramatic moments in NBA Finals history?

4. Air Jordan IV

Adam's Rank: 4 | Chad's Rank: 4

Adam: This is the sneaker featured in the legendary scene in "Do The Right Thing" -- the movie that led to Spike Lee becoming Jordan's right-hand man in an unforgettable series of ads.

Chad: "Do the Right Thing" featured this shoe on the character Buggin Out. I felt for him when his brand-new Air Jordans got stepped on. It was a sign of the times and tensions going on in Brooklyn at the time. I can still hear "Fight the Power" every time I look at this shoe.

3. Air Jordan XI

Adam's Rank: 1 | Chad's Rank: 6

Adam: There's a reason this is the retro edition Nike puts out every year at Christmas. This is the shoe everyone wants on their feet, and it's been that way since the moment Boyz II Men rocked them at the 1996 Grammys.

Chad: I don't think there was a more appealing pair of sneakers ever made than the Concord XI. It was super stylish and supportive. It also helped that the best player in the world grabbed another ring after coming back from retirement.

2. Air Jordan III

Adam's Rank: 2 | Chad's Rank: 2

Adam: This was the first sneaker to sport the famed Jumpman logo, and Jordan Brand might not exist today without it. It looks good, it feels good. It's basically perfect.

Chad: Who doesn't love the iconic cement print? Oh and jumping from the free throw line in a dunk contest is pretty cool, too. My personal favorite Air Jordan model.

1. Air Jordan 1

Adam's Rank: 3 | Chad's Rank: 1

Adam: The original. The icon. When you say "Air Jordan," this is the sneaker people think of. It still looks fresh more than 30 years later, and it's hard to imagine the popularity of the first Jordan fading anytime soon.

Chad: You can still wear a pair of these from 1985. For that alone, this shoe gets my top nod.