Best Air Jordan 12 Colorways Ever

  • Air Jordan 12 Gamma

    10. Gamma

    One of the most recent releases of the Jordan XII, the “Gamma” edition combined a black nubuck and leather upper with Gym Red accents and a super loud Gamma Blue mudguard and sole. While the colors were certainly striking, many collectors didn’t find the retro’s quality up to par.

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  • Air Jordan 12 Melo

    9. UNC/Melo

    One of Carmelo Anthony’s greatest player exclusives–he wore these as a young player in Denver–this PE edition colorway released to the public in February of 2004. It first dropped in women’s sizes before the men were blessed as well.

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  • 8. Obsidian

    An original colorway that was unique in that Jordan did not wear them on the floor, the “Obsidian” Jordan XII later dropped as a low-top colorway. It re-released in original form in 2012 and its combination of Obsidian and French Blue detailing on the tongue, heel tab, and lining gave it the perfect off-floor appeal.

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  • Air Jordan 12 French Blue

    7. French Blue

    A memorable colorway during JB’s first retro run for the XII, the “French Blue” edition was worn extensively by eventual All-Star┬áRichard Hamilton. But the shoe’s most memorable moments? Had to be the love Kobe Bryant gave it. During the 2003-04 season, the Mamba wore this colorway when the Lakers rocked their throwbacks both at home and on the road.

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  • Air Jordan 12 Nubuck

    6. Nubuck

    The first time this colorway released marked a landmark moment for sneaker collectors. On Black Friday in 2003, the “Nubuck” colorway dropped as the first ever online exclusive from the brand. Before the days of raffles, you had to be a member of Jumpman23.com just to get the right URL to order. (It also came with a similarly colored hat and hoodie for $200. Nowadays, imagine how much this collection would be?!) Ultimately, the colorway came back out a second time with slight modifications, but the original’s unique story and fabulous color gives it special appeal.

    Maybe the weirdest part of that whole experience? Jordan even sent you a tape measure to measure your head for the hat.

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  • Air Jordan 12 Cherry

    5. White/Red

    Most remember these as the colorway Jordan wore while getting that work from Allen Iverson. Others–like noted Jordan XII collector @eqkicks–consider the “Cherry” XII the best Air Jordan XII colorway ever. I’m in the middle. MJ wore these at times throughout the 1996-97 regular season but never did anything especially noteworthy (at least for him) in them, outside of an early 50-point statement game against Miami where MJ made it a personal mission to shut down the Miami players’ claims that they wanted respect from Chicago.

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  • Air Jordan 12 Taxi

    4. Taxi

    Even with the “Taxi” nickname–yellow and black coming together on the carbon springplate–this shoe was elegance personified. The gold eyelets took what could’ve been a relatively ordinary shoe and gave the “Taxi” a sophisticated look. And there was also the “Frozen Moment” commercial where MJ wore these, easily one of the greatest sports ads of my lifetime.

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  • Air Jordan 12 PSNY

    3. PSNY

    One of the most hyped drops of the past 12 months, the “Public School NY” Jordan XII release took the silhouette in a different direction. It featured a molded, premium nubuck upper,┬ápremium suede, and the solid color–not black, not completely grey either–gave it a very distinct look. Jordan obviously never wore these on the floor, but they are easily one of the shoe’s best releases we’ve seen over the past decade.

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  • Air Jordan 12 Playoffs

    2. Playoffs

    Not only did Jordan do some serious damage in these joints during his run to a fifth championship, he also wore them in the 1997 NBA All-Star Game in Cleveland. Jordan finished with a triple-double (14 points, 11 boards, and 11 dimes), the first time that had ever happened in the midseason classic. The GOAT also had one of the best highlights of the game when he dunked home a missed free throw in the second quarter.

    “Tell me I can no longer fly…” Remember that commercial? Jordan wore these for that ad, too.

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  • Air Jordan 12

    1. Black/Red

    Over the years, the “Flu Game” has taken on an air about it that’s almost mythical. Yes, at this point in my life I refuse to believe MJ was THAT sick. He played. He balled out. He won. Was he sick? Yes. Was he on his deathbed? No way. But everything was different for a fourth grader watching this game. This was one of my earliest memories of Jordan rising above the competition to create something legendary. This was what heroes were made of. And life would never be the same.

    The sneakers he wore during that Game 5 in the ’97 NBA Finals? I think you can take a hint.

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  • Air Jordan 12 Gamma
  • Air Jordan 12 Melo
  • Air Jordan 12 French Blue
  • Air Jordan 12 Nubuck
  • Air Jordan 12 Cherry
  • Air Jordan 12 Taxi
  • Air Jordan 12 PSNY
  • Air Jordan 12 Playoffs
  • Air Jordan 12

The Air Jordan XII wasn’t just the “Flu Game” shoe. It wasn’t just what Michael Jordan wore throughout the ’96-97 season. It wasn’t just the sneaker he wore while getting robbed of an MVP by Karl Malone. And it wasn’t just the sneaker Jordan wore while nailing a game-winning, buzzer-beating jumper in Game 1 of the ’97 NBA Finals.

The Jordan XII represented the first sneaker to be released under the Jordan Brand. The Nike Swoosh was completely absent, another first. And Zoom Air was incorporated, yet another first.

Taking inspiration from both women’s boots and the “Rising Sun” of Japan, the XII was designed by Tinker Hatfield and was so beloved as a performance shoe that it seemed like just about every Chicago teammate ended up wearing them.

Over the years, the shoe was regularly worn by NBA players on the hardwood–everyone from Rip Hamilton to Nate Robinson to even Kobe Bryant wore colorways. (We can’t forget about Carmelo Anthony, either. He wore some of the hottest XIIs we’ve ever seen during his early days with the Denver Nuggets.)

Available tomorrow at Champs Sports will be “The Master” Air Jordan XII, the latest retro colorway, which reminds a lot of people of the old “Master” poster many of us had hanging on our walls as kids. (I certainly did.)

To get you ready for that release tomorrow, here are the 10 Best Air Jordan 12 Colorways Ever, not including tomorrow’s drop. What you won’t find here? Anything OVO-related, considering they have yet to release to the public. (As usual, all candidates had to have been released publicly.) What you will find here? Heat.

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image via Jordan Brand