The Most Versatile Air Jordans Ever

  • Air Jordan 14 Retro
    5. Air Jordan 14

    From the very beginning, this shoe was designed to be a sleek model that perfectly balanced Jordan’s on-court speed with the Ferrari’s power. All of the odes to the car throughout the silhouette — from the logo shield to the teeth to the grille — add up to something special. While the low cut of the 14 doesn’t do as well with pants, the original mid is perfect for any season or event — it also doesn’t hurt that the shoe has been a home run in just about every colorway ever released, two of which are currently available at Champs Sports.

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  • Air Jordan 1
    4. Air Jordan 1

    The Air Jordan 1 was a different breed from the very beginning. The first shoe in Jordan’s signature line was designed in a black and red colorway that was ultimately banned by David Stern for uniform violations. (Things have changed a lot since then.) The $5,000 fine every time Jordan wore the sneakers turned out to be a perfect marketing campaign, and the shoe flew off shelves, setting off a storm and planting the first seeds of the sneakerhead culture.

    The shoe itself is the highest cut you’ll find on this list and while I personally believe this shoe loses a little of its appeal in shorts, the fact that skaters everywhere have always had love for this silhouette shows it deserves this spot.

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  • Air Jordan 12
    3. Air Jordan 12

    If it wasn’t for the Jordan 16, I think the 12 could be the most underrated shoe of all of Michael’s signature kicks. With sharp contrasting overlay colorblocking meant to be inspired by the Japanese flag, the shoe featured a number of awesome tech aspects. Every colorway was a hit, as well, from the originals to the Taxi to the Playoffs to the Black/Carolina “nubucks.”

    With incredible ankle support, NBA players still play ball in these joints. It’s probably the most durable shoe of the entire line, and stands out whether you’re wearing it on the first day of school, during basketball tryouts, to chill, or to stunt at a concert.

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  • Air Jordan 11
    2. Air Jordan 11

    Is there a soul alive that doesn’t love the Jordan 11? A revolution when it first appeared in the 1995 NBA Playoffs, it brought patent leather to the forefront and a┬ácarbon fiber spring plate to the sole. The pinpoint use of the patent leather made this Jordan perfect for formal occasions and over the years, it’s been front and center at more than a few weddings.

    But the most amazing part of the design was that no one was even sure Jordan would ever use them. Tinker Hatfield continued to create Jordan sneakers even after Mike had retired, and without his vision, maybe we never get the 11.

    Considering it’s rep, the Air Jordan 11 has probably shined on-foot in more unique places than any other basketball sneaker ever.

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  • Air Jordan 3
    1. Air Jordan 3

    The don.

    No Jordan sneaker carries versatility than can match the Air Jordan 3. It’s durable. It looks great with creases. It’s breathable. It’s simple. And it features elephant print.

    This sneaker gets worn no matter the weather, in part because it’s easy to clean and also because it features a pretty simple upper that goes with just about anything. The tongue is perfect. The heel tab is perfect. The silhouette is perfect.

    It never surprised me that this sneaker virtually saved the Jordan line. It’s that good — nearly 30 years since its initial release, the shoe still looks unique and modern. Whether you’re talking about the Black Cement, the True Blue, the Fire Red or the colorway shown here, it’s hard to top the Jordan 3.

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  • Air Jordan 14 Retro
  • Air Jordan 1
  • Air Jordan 12
  • Air Jordan 11
  • Air Jordan 3

I’m a neat freak. OCD. I’ll admit I’ve gotten better over the years, but there’s a reason I used to do the duck walk all over campus back in college.

That obsession over keeping everything perfect is probably why I hate sneaker boxes too. That doesn’t stop me from collecting them or keeping my sneakers in them. (Over the years, thankfully, I’ve had to get rid of many of them simply because I ran out of space.) But it often does stop me from wearing what’s in them. I got to take them out … take the packaging out … take the inner lining paper out … take the shoes out … then leave the box out. It’s annoying and sometimes I wish I had the courage to just get rid of the boxes entirely.

But there are certain shoes I feel like I have to get rid of the boxes for, simply because I wear them so much. I’m talking about the Air Jordan 1, the 3, the 11, the 12, and the 14. In fact, I haven’t met a sneakerhead yet that doesn’t love those shoes. Longtime sneaker connoisseur @theinfader calls the black/cement Air Jordan 3 “the best daily beaters ever.” High praise.

As a shoe, being versatile is important, especially at this time of year. (Why do you think people love the Roshe Run so much?) Large tongues, super high heels, or low, sleek cuts can work fabulously, but there’s something about mid-cut shoes that work great whether you’re wearing designing pants or gym shorts. They always look great.

Some Jordans look great in jeans. Others don’t have quite as much variety. But today, with the Jordan 14 “Black Toe” dropping this Saturday at Champs Sports, we’re celebrating the Jordans that you can wear anywhere, even to a wedding. Here are The Most Versatile Air Jordans Ever.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney