Back in 1985, the Air Jordan 1s were introduced, and that may as well say it all. The backlash the shoes faced from the NBA for breaking their primitive on-court uniform code did nothing but wonders for Nike and Mike, as each pair that followed has further added to the pair’s legend. While Michael Jordan was transcendent from an athletic standpoint, the same applies even more to his ensuing line of footwear. There is arguably no line of sneakers more prominent than Jordan’s among the sneakerhead community.
Nowadays, the shoes are as big of fashion statements as they are on-court necessities, with an entire subculture devoted to copping the latest pair of Js. We know just how many colorways there are to file through and how strenuous it can be to choose, and that’s why we did it for you. With countless options to choose from, we took to eBay to find some of our most beloved retro Js on the resale market. Here are our favorites.
Cool Grey 11
The argument for the Jordan 11 serving as the greatest pair in Jumpman’s illustrious line is far from bold, whether you’re on Team 11 or not. Due to an onslaught of Bred restocks in the early 2010s and the classic Concord color scheme being plastered on countless Nike silhouettes, the Cool Greys are a symbolic pair that often gets overlooked. When they dropped in 2001, the Cool Grey 11 introduced the palette in what ultimately became a mainstay for Jordan Brand, so their history runs deep even though they came out after the man already retired. Luckily for you, these are releasing this December, and are by far the newest Retro you’ll find here.
Here is an instant classic that has translated far too well over the years. Although MJ never wore these purple and teal-tinted kicks in-game, he managed to take it one step further than basketball — donning the OG colorway on a Wheaties box back in 1990. Later on, they were verified by the zeitgeist when Will Smith wore them in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, a sitcom as synonymous with the ’90s as Michael Jordan himself. These particular Retros hit shelves in 2013, and an updated one has yet to see the light of day since, but it’s often better that way.
Accounting for just how long it took Nike to retro this quintessential pair of kicks, you should be in luck knowing resellers aren’t charging an arm and a leg to pick them up. Having hit the public back in 2015, the Nike Air-clad Maroon 6 offers a pair of cosmetic differences from their OG pair, most notably the shedding of icy accents that had decked out the ’90s version. Nevertheless, this particular release was one of the more anticipated of its time, and for good reason.
Reverse Taxi 12
Following the legendary 11s and before the far more design-centric 13s came the Air Jordan 12, an incredibly durable pair of kicks that reminded sneakerheads of then and now how the line of sneakers are geared for on-court performance above anything else. While the silhouette has worn numerous colorways in the past couple of decades, few of them deliver a similar sense of luxury than the Reverse Taxis, turning the iconic OG color palette on its head by inversion, as the reimagined upper is entirely black as it sits on a snowy white outsole. Of course, the gold accents remain, and while neither rendition ever really resembled a New York cab as intended, they look good on feet nonetheless.
Kobe Bryant PE 9
Released back in 2016 in celebration of the late legend’s retirement, this pair of Laker-themed 9s may not exude the same exclusivity of Kobe’s game-worn purple-and-gold 3s and 8s, but they are some flawlessly befitting tributes. Providing an ideal middle ground for fans of the old-school, older-school, and contemporary hoop historians, this five-year-old pair of kicks makes for an even more ideal commemoration nowadays.
This now-classic color palette was the very first non-OG one to be tacked on to a pair of Tinker-designed sneakers, surely proving to be a method that went in Jordan Brand’s favor. Initially intended as a ‘lifestyle colorway,’ those intentions have surely stuck around for over two decades now. Originally released in 2001 to a polarizing reaction, these staples got their retro treatment back in 2018 and earned it in every sense of the word.
As one of the most emblematic colorways that Jordan ever rocked, these Dream Team-themed kicks remained fully intact for their first Retro back in 2012, unlike Olympic pairs that followed. Twenty years removed from the 1992 Olympics, these Retros developed a level of hype that was certainly understandable considering their ethos and long-awaited re-release. Since this particular drop, the quintessential set of 7s has yet to hit shelves again in their OG-fashion, but why sit patient until the next summer Olympics to see if they do when they’re available on eBay?
Surely, you were waiting to see when a pair of these would show up. As mentioned earlier, the Air Jordan 1 is the most revered silhouette in sneakerhead culture and has seen a nearly countless number of renditions. Heck, there were 60 different colorways to hit the market back in 2018 alone, and the trend has not stopped since, although it has at least taken a step back. While the late Virgil Abloh’s reimaginations of the shoe have swallowed up most of the spotlight over the past few years, it is truly impossible to look past a pair as subtle and lionized as the Shadow 1, which served as one of the shoe’s 15 original colorways.
The 4s are one of the few Jordan silhouettes that are genuinely capable of looking great no matter what color is thrown on them. While many of Jordan’s joint efforts with OVO have garnered most of the spotlight, these old-school Raptors-inspired kicks came as a surprise release to the public back in 2019. Finished off with Drake’s signature on the tongue, these prove that not every pair of Js that use the artist’s branding need to boast unnecessarily decadent white and gold paint jobs.
Decked out in a popping red suede, these Ferrari-embellished 14s are the epitome of a “luxury basketball sneaker.” As a matter of fact, the shoe’s silhouette in its entirety drew a bevy of influence from MJ’s affinity for the Prancing Horse as a whole, with the triangle-enclosed Jumpman appearing on each colorway — but none of the rest, not even the sleek Last Shots, exude the same winning spirit of this particular eye-catching red pair. Finished off with sturdy strips of carbon fiber and dual zoom units, these are yet another pair to remind sneakerheads that Jordan was, in fact, a basketball player first.
The Grail: Doernbecher 4
Nike’s wide array of collaborative efforts with the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital have remained immensely honorable more than intricately flamboyant, and that’s saying a whole lot. Over the top in every way you look at it, this particular pair in their Doernbecher series showed no boundaries. Designed by Isaiah Scott, who was eleven years old at the time of its release, this pair boasts a Superman logo on the tongue and details galore, all while sitting on an icy blue midsole that may have seen some wear over the past ten years since its release — but it’s our grail sneaker, through and through.
The 20 Best Gifts for the Sneakerhead
If you’re already stocked up on kicks and are looking to further enhance your collection of shoes by shining a light on other complementary products, our guide tailored to sneakerheads has got you covered with a variety of different items to add to your collection.
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