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Ranking the Most Iconic Jordan Brand Shoes of All Time

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2012

Ranking the Most Iconic Jordan Brand Shoes of All Time

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    Nike's release of the new Jordan Brand XX8s comes this weekend with the NBA All-Star Break and Michael Jordan's 50th birthday.

    With the zip-up shroud a la Shawn Kemp's Reeboks from back in the day, they're creating a lot of fervor, but it seems like they're well on their way to joining in the long list of iconic Jordan brand shoes.

    The new Jordans are obviously something very different than we're used to in the Jordan line, but they've been known to mix things up over the years.

    It might be strange to play basketball with them unzipped, as the shroud would be flapping around as you run up and down the court. However, they seem to be more or less agreed upon as good, stable shoes. And why wouldn't they be?

    When zipped up, they kind of look like a football player with his cleat taped up to his ankle, which is an interesting feel. But then they zip down to reveal the green upper and tongue: like the alien that bursts out of John Hurt's chest in Alien.

    In short, they're unequivocally beautiful and undeniably weird.

    It seems as if the weirdness would end with the fact that they have a zip-up shroud covering the majority of the shoe, but the variety of colors just adds to the mystery of these shoes.

    Whether it be the visceral-looking "Knicks" version, the "Red Elephant" colorway, the initial "Electric Green" alternative, or the beautiful "Oragami" look, these shoes are going to go a long way to get people talking about them.

10. Air Jordan XX5: 2010

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    There are a lot of anniversary Jordans that have either come out to rave reviews or got lost in the annals of time. The XXV Air Jordan is right there on the borderline.

    However, it seemed such a big deal when they came out,and I can't get them out of my mind when thinking about an anniversary Jordan.

    Part of the intrigue is over the strange circle on the side, one side featuring the Jumpman logo, the other with the vertical "23" logo.

    These tended to receive mixed reviews, but it's not greatness that always makes things memorable—sometimes all it takes is controversy and a lot of hoopla for shoes to stick out in your mind.

    Nonetheless, they're a very interesting shoe, and it's an obvious take on an old design, with a few variations to morph the Jordan I into a sort of 21st century shoe.

9. Air Jordan XIII: 1997

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    I can remember the Jordan XIII coming out and everybody generally going crazy over it.

    Between the mesh cover, the textured look of the body, the wrap-around black going all the way up the tongue and the little holographic black logo on the back of the shoe, these things were downright innovative.

    They still carry on the classic look and feel of a Jordan, but there's more going on than ever before, especially with the body of the shoe.

    One of the coolest things about these is the incredible variation that existed, coming out in a ton of different colors and styles.

    Even better, Nike has released a pair of retro XIII's in blue with a green hologram in 2013, and they look downright sick.

8. Air Jordan X: 1994

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    The Air Jordan X is easily the best anniversary model shoe they came out with, and it had such a different look than most of the previous Jordans that it was a bit surprising.

    The Jordan X almost looks like a baseball cleat, with the alternating black and silver running up the tongue and the silver integrated in the sole of the shoe, making the black stick out and seem even more cleat-like.

    Easily the coolest part about the Jordan X was the fact that they featured Michael Jordan's accomplishments on the outsole of the shoe.

    They brought these puppies back in 2012 in a variety of different colors and styles, all of which were very cool reboots.

7. Air Jordan IX: 1993

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    These were the first Air Jordans released following Michael Jordan's retirement, so there's a bit of a bittersweet feeling surrounding these ones.

    Of course, Michael came back, won three more titles and everyone was happy, but at the time they were a strange shoe given the circumstances.

    The IX is most noticeable from the Jumpman logo at the heel of the shoe near the bottom, a different location than in years past, and the all-white body with the black trim looping all the way around the toe to the upper part of the shoe.

    Most interesting, there were actually other players with their numbers on them, rather than the traditional "23," including Kendall Gill's "13" and Mitch Richmond's "2."

6. Air Jordan VI: 1991

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    The most exciting circumstances surrounding a pair of Jordans, these were the first pair of shoes that Michael Jordan ever won a championship while wearing.

    Despite the fact that they're legendary in that notion, they're also a very cool and noticeable shoe, just like most of the early Jordan brand shoes.

    One of my favorite features of this shoe is that there are two holes in the tongue that you can slide your fingers into, making it easier to pull the shoe on.

    Sure, putting a shoe on isn't that hard in the first place, but if they've got the technology to make it easier, why not do it?

5. Air Jordan V: 1990

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    These are actually my favorite Jordan brand shoes of all time. The design is so sleek and streamlined that, with the back sloped down so quickly, it actually looks like the shoe is lurching forward.

    The entire thing is fast while it's sitting still.

    Jordan was wearing a pair of these V shoes when he put up a career-high 69 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers, making them especially intriguing, yet painful, for Cavs fans.

    There's a very fat tongue on the V that really sticks out when they're tied tight, making the shoe pop out while staying sleek and distinguished.

    It's a very cool look.

4. Air Jordan XI Concord: Samples in 1995, Release in 2000

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    As possibly the best-looking Air Jordan since the Air Jordan I came out, the XI Concord has a place in history as the best "later" Jordan ever made.

    What puts it over the top for me, (and most of the kids that grew up watching MJ ball), is the fact that it was these shoes (well, the blue and black variation) that he used to escape the doom of living on Moron Mountain for all eternity in Space Jam.

    Really, everything about this shoe is beautiful and unassuming. From the unique shoelace eyelets that give a look like the shoe is being pulled together by the laces to the perfectly-placed Jumpman and the stellar color.

    Plus it had the clear rubber sole that was so well liked from a few of the previous shoes.

    There may not be an exciting green upper and a zip-up shroud, but these were works of art as far as shoes go.

3. Air Jordan IV: 1989

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    The black/cement Air Jordan IV might as well be one of the coolest-looking shoes in the history of shoes, if there is anybody keeping track of that.

    They look like they're pieced together with lego bits and pieces of metal, giving off a feeling of intrigue in every part of the shoe.

    Aside from the terrific color mixture in these, with the grey and red sole, the white base and the black body, the best part about this shoe has to be the eyelets at the top and bottom of the tongue.

    It looks like they're strung through spider webs rather than just a regular old hole, which is definitely a break from the norm.

2. Air Jordan III: 1988

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    Once again, the black/cement color scheme does wonders for a pair of Jordans, one that many people find to be the best in the history of the shoes' line.

    What makes these cooler than most is the textured look on the toe and heel of the shoe, something that was almost unheard of in those days of shoe design.

    Aside from the textured print there, they've also got the textured leather on the body, different colored eyelets at the top and bottom of the tongue and a beautiful red Jumpman placed emphatically on the tip of the tongue of the shoe.

    It remains one of the greatest shoes in the history of basketball, and really there's only one that can emphatically beat it.

1. Air Jordan I: 1985

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    Was there any question as to what would be at the top of the list? Michael Jordan's original signature shoe is the basis for everything that Nike made from that point out, and it really is a work of art.

    The original shoe had a white and red color pattern, and the NBA ended up banning it based on their rule that players could only wear black and white shoes. It was one of the strangest rules in the history of the NBA, but hey, David Stern was the commissioner.

    Nike actually ended up paying Jordan's $5,000 fine every time he wore the colored shoes, and sales eventually skyrocketed.

    The black and red shoe itself was a pretty piece of work, but it just can't compare to the black, red and white on display for the past 28 years in basketball.

    They're beautiful shoes, and the fact that they came before any others makes them just a bit higher than all the rest, as they full well deserve to be.

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