The 10 Greatest “Bred” Air Jordans Ever

  • Air Jordan 18
    10. Air Jordan XVIII

    I nearly put the Air Jordan VII here but let’s face it. That’s not really a “bred” colorway. The Air Jordan XVIII makes more sense because it dropped in an all-black and red colorway AND because it was the final sneaker Jordan ever wore on the court. In Washington, he didn’t have any opportunities to rock the black and red color base that he’d made so famous throughout his career, but that doesn’t mean fans weren’t still clamoring for these when they released in 2008 as part of the CDP packs.

    Inspired by race cars and fine Italian dress shoes — funny combo, right? — the XVIII stuck out above the rest with an all-suede leather upper and that rubber heel wrap. There’s also the hidden lacing system that made these one of the best performance sneakers after the XIV.

    The Premier “Finale” XX3 also deserves some love here even though it didn’t make the list.

    1 of 10
  • Air Jordan 16
    9. Air Jordan XVI

    One of the most underrated silhouettes in the entire Air Jordan line, the XVI was actually inspired by the marching boot. Releasing in the late ’90s, it took advantage of the shroud fad that was going on at the time, and came equipped with its own personal skin. These originally dropped when Jordan was retired for the second time, but the “bred” colorway has grown to be something special. It was honestly ahead of its time. To me, it looks about 10 times better now than it did back when it first released.

    2 of 10
  • Air Jordan 13
    8. Air Jordan XIII

    The XIII is another underrated gem. It never gets the respect it deserves because Jordan finished the Finals of ’98 in the “Last Shot” XIV. But the “bred” XIII was on his feet for much of that final playoff run in Chicago. Inspired by the black panther — probably the coolest sneaker inspiration ever — the XIII was on Jordan’s feet when he shut up B.J. Armstrong in the playoffs, as well as in the Finals when he turned the tide in a clutch Game 2.

    3 of 10
  • Air Jordan 8
    7. Air Jordan VIII

    The VIII has so many unique aspects to it that it’s no wonder so many longtime sneakerheads LOVE this shoe. There’s the tongue patch, which you gotta feel every time you put the shoe on. There’s the inner liner, making this maybe the most comfortable Jordan ever. There’s the fact that it was inspired by Michael’s crazy off-court life — and that shone through with the detailing. Then, of course, there’s the strap across the front.

    Jordan accomplished a whole lot in this one, too, and it marks the final shoe he wore before retiring for the first time.

    4 of 10
  • Air Jordan 12
    6. Air Jordan XII

    Everyone knows the story behind these. In Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, Jordan wore them during his infamous “Flu Game” when he scored 38 points and hit a dagger three-pointer despite being visibly sick. If Chicago loses that game, and they were trailing by 16 at one point in the second quarter, they probably lose the championship. It was super important and ended up going down as one of Jordan’s best games ever.

    The sneaker not only features a cool inspiration courtesy of the Japanese war flag, but it’s also considered the most durable Jordan ever, making it a must for any collector.

    5 of 10
  • Air Jordan 14
    5. Air Jordan XIV

    These shoes are synonymous with one shot and one shot only: The final shot to beat Utah in the 1998 Finals, the final shot of MJ’s Chicago career. The shoes themselves were durable and versatile, and effectively brought the Ferrari inspiration to life with the shield logo, and the teeth and car grille along the midsole.

    This is perennially one of the sneakers most requested by fans to get re-released.

    6 of 10
  • Air Jordan 4 black cement
    4. Air Jordan IV

    The Air Jordan IV came at a time when Jordan was finally advancing in the playoffs, and Tinker Hatfield played off that work ethic by incorporating new improvements to the Air Jordan III — such as the small ankle strap — that set this one apart.

    Perhaps MJ’s most famous moment in these shoes came when he hit “The Shot” in the playoffs against Cleveland to push the Bulls to the second round. This is a classic shoe regardless of the colorway, but the “bred” edition is still far and away the best one.

    Since we’re on the subject of the III, technically, if we wanted to, we could’ve thrown a pair on here, even if the “Black/Cement” isn’t normally known as a “bred.” That’s obviously one of the best shoes ever.

    7 of 10
  • Air Jordan 6 sneakers in creed
    3. Air Jordan VI

    Nearing its 25th birthday, the “Infrared” (not true red, but who’s gonna complain?) Air Jordan VI was the sneaker worn by the GOAT during the ’91 NBA Finals against Magic Johnson. It was inspired by the Porsche — check out that heel tab, personally requested by MJ so he could get the shoe on easier — and was part of one of Jordan’s most underrated performances ever: Game 2 of the Finals when he made 13 straight shots, finished with 33 points and 13 dimes, and had that incredible switch-hands-in-mid-air layup.

    8 of 10
  • Air Jordan 1
    2. Air Jordan I

    The sneaker that started it all. The “Banned” colorway originally dropped on the same day that the Chicago colorway did but that ended up being months after the NBA had originally banned it from league play and fined Jordan every time he wore it on the court. The perfect marketing storm, this shoe was special because of all the barriers it broke. The sneaker industry isn’t the same at all in 2014 if it wasn’t for this classic.

    9 of 10
  • Air Jordan 11
    1. Air Jordan XI

    This might not be true among backpacking sneakerheads — who always want to go against the grain — but I’d be willing to bet that if you polled every single shoehead, shoe lover, and even casual ballplayers and sneaker-wearers, this would be the most beloved Jordan ever. It’s certainly my favorite ever.

    It was worn by Jordan throughout the 1995-96 record-breaking season, the year that Chicago won 72 games and Jordan won the MVP, the Finals MVP, and even the All-Star MVP. The patent leather is so perfect, and the black upper allows this sneaker almost unparalleled versatility.

    10 of 10
  • Air Jordan 18
  • Air Jordan 16
  • Air Jordan 13
  • Air Jordan 8
  • Air Jordan 12
  • Air Jordan 14
  • Air Jordan 4 black cement
  • Air Jordan 6 sneakers in creed
  • Air Jordan 1
  • Air Jordan 11

I always say the Air Jordan XI was the first sneaker I ever “noticed.” As in, I was watching the Bulls and Michael Jordan play in the 1995 Playoffs against the Magic and saw MJ wearing some shiny shoes that didn’t quite fit in. About 20 years later, those Concord XIs that changed the game are still considered one of the most incredible sneakers ever made. But even though they have to make their way onto every single “top sneakers list” simply because of the way they changed the game, I can’t be the only one that doesn’t even think this is the best colorway of the shoe.

That award goes to the “bred” Air Jordan XI.

While white and red Jordans never truly caught on — people still love them but they don’t luuuv ’em like that — the black and red joints (hence the “bred” nickname for you newbies out there) were favorites from the very beginning. Maybe it’s because it all started with the “Banned” Air Jordan I? Maybe it’s because the Bulls often wore black sneakers? Maybe it’s because of the presence of the XI?

No matter what, sneakerheads should know what inspired this post. For this one, we tried to steer clear of sneakers like the Jordan III, which featured the “Black Cements” that could’ve been considered “bred” if we really wanted to get technical about it. Same with the “Stealth” XX (a personal favorite). On this, we stuck to the obvious ones.

On Black Friday, the OG “Infrared” Air Jordan VI is coming back again at Champs Sports, and I can’t even begin to describe the madness that’ll go down. This is one of the greatest shoes ever made and it also happens to be the silhouette that Jordan was wearing when he won his first NBA championship in 1991. Prepare yourself for the hysteria by checking out The 10 Greatest “Bred” Air Jordans Ever.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney