Best Air Jordans of All Time: The Hidden Reason Behind Michael Jordan’s Favorite Sneakers

Published 01/27/2021, 6:30 PM EST
Chicago Bulls All-Star forward # 23 Michael Jordan file photos. (Photo by Tom Berg/WireImage)

Nike changed the sneaker game forever when they formed a collaboration with Michael Jordan in his rookie year. The birth of ‘Air Jordan’ in 1985 was an iconic moment, and there have been several models that have come out since. The brand has launched more than 20 signature shoes, but which one is Jordan’s favorite? 


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A glimpse at three spectacular models through the years

Nike has always been the go-to brand for spectacular sneakers. They made the right move, which was to create a brand along with Jordan, and look where it has got them now! MJ enjoyed wearing every shoe that was designed for him, but a few definitely stood out during its time. 


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Jordan I 

This was the first pair of sneakers ever worn by ‘His Airness’ in collaboration with his new brand. The design was flawless, and it gave birth to a new era in the sneaker market. Jordan impressed in his rookie year with this pair and earned an All-Star appearance as well. 

Jordan XIX

The ‘Jordan XIX’ was the first release after the six-time champion’s third and final retirement from the game. This model is often credited as the most comfortable design ever created, with missing eyelets, a tongue made of Tech Flex material, along with a carbon fiber shank and a patent leather toe.

Jordan XI


The Jordan XI’s is the most iconic pair of sneakers ever created. In fact, Sole Collector Magazine voted it as the greatest sneakers ever made! Such is the reputation that this shoe carries. 

So which one is the best pair, according to Michael Jordan?

There’s plenty to choose from, but one pair that Michael Jordan holds close to his heart are the Jordan XI’s. Well, millions of fans chose the same too! This design was created before Jordan’s first retirement in 1993 and Nike went close to scrapping the whole idea due to the Bulls player stepping away from the game briefly. 

The reason behind it going viral initially was the unconventional design that made it stand apart from the rest. Jordan debuted them in the 1995 playoffs but was slapped with a fine by the NBA. 


Hence, ‘His Airness’ only began wearing them completely in the 1995/96 season, the same year where he propelled the Bulls to a historic 72-win season. The Jordan 11 gave birth to a new era in sneaker design. 

Nike boldly stepped away from using traditional methods to create their sneakers and went ahead with using more attractive elements to form the outer upper and the insole. 

What made Jordan fall in love with the Jordan 11s? 

For starters, it broke the boundaries of a sneaker design in the 90s. Nike conceived an idea to use different and sophisticated elements to make the sneaker look more attractive, along with it being the most comfortable pair of sneakers ever. 

Michael Jordan rejoiced in the fact that it was extremely comfortable for his feet and that it came with a “tuxedo” like design, that no one had ever attempted before. Nike used patented leather on the outsole to create a sparkling design, and this made the shoe lighter than the other models! 

Jordan had several meetings with designer Ken Black, along with Nike greats Tinker Hatfield and Howard White before confirming the design. He was impressed with the new elements and here’s Black’s version of what the shoe was about:

“This prototype was more about figuring out if the function and feel, like the wrapped necklace, worked, and then adding the graphics and identity to it. They already had a great relationship, and MJ would give him a shit for the things he brought to share, even though he loved it,” Black said


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Tinker Hatfield also said: “The 11 is probably the most remarkable shoe, yes. It was a bold approach to use new materials and new technologies. We worked really hard on 11, and Michael liked it too much.”

The Jordan 11 is a model that will never fade away from the sneaker universe. If it is Michael Jordan’s favorite, there can be no further arguments! Nike also started releasing beautiful retro versions of these sneakers from 2001, and we’ll once again witness its return this year, which also marks the 25th anniversary of the model! 


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Arjun Athreya

2031 articles

Arjun Athreya is a senior writer at Essentially Sports and has been contributing since early 2020. Having developed an avid interest in sports at an early age, he pursued a Journalism degree and graduated from Madras Christian College. Arjun manages the Golf division and its content, and primarily covers news pertaining to the NBA as well.



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