Let’s talk all about the Jumpman. But we’re not talkin’ lifestyle Retros or hypebeast Travis Scott’s. We’re talking hoops. For those who are interested in getting familiar with the brand and making a smart purchasing decision, here’s ALL you need to know on how to buy Jordan basketball shoes in 2022 and beyond.
Using my own experiences with Jordan hoop shoes as well as research, I’ll break down the current Jordan basketball shoe catalog, what to expect from a Jumpman sneaker, the best places to grab ’em for cheaper, give you my current rotation of kicks, and top it all off with some bonus questions & answers.
. WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A JORDAN HOOP SHOE?
Here’s what I noticed about Jordan hoop shoes that seem to be a pattern among most of ’em
While it’s impossible to put a variety of different shoes in a single group as each sneaker is different, it’s pretty evident that they are a few qualities that Jordan hoop shoes often share.
For someone who’s new to JB’s basketball sneakers, here are some of the reoccurring details I’ve noticed on several Jordan shoes I played in throughout the years.
What exactly is a versatile basketball shoe? For me, that means it can suit many different players’ needs whether you’re a guard, a big, athletic, low-profile, you name it.
95% of Jordan hoop shoes I’ve tested and reviewed seem to be very well-rounded, meaning they can provide the necessary performance for just about any style or build.
It might not drastically excel in one particular aspect but I feel like Jordan kicks offer just enough to give players what they need the most, no matter who they are.
The React Elevation, the Zoom Separate, the Jumpman Diamond, the flagship Air Jordan 36 – just to name a few versatile options. Look up reviews on just about any Jordan basketball sneaker and tell me they’re not versatile!
I think there’s a reason for Jordan sneakers being versatile though. Just take a look at their lineup of signature athletes: Jayson Tatum, Russell Westbrook, Rui Hachimura, Luka Dončić.
They’re all versatile two-way players that can do just about anything on the court. They specialize in certain areas, of course, but a balanced game is something most of those guys stand behind.
One specific performance trait I’ve noticed about Jordan hoop shoes is a heavy focus on security for the player.
I’ve hooped in about a dozen Jordan performance models and despite their differences in pricing, materials used, or cushion technology – most models felt very supportive for the foot.
This means that proper structure is always thought of when building a Jordan shoe, so is a supportive chassis as well as a wide base to provide stability.
TECHNOLOGY FROM NIKE
Did you notice that both Nike and Jordan hoop shoes share mostly the same technology? If you’ve spotted both a Nikey and a Jumpman model featuring Zoom Air cushion or a Flytknit upper – this isn’t a mistake.
For what might seem obvious to a seasoned sneaker consumer, newcomers might not be aware of this.
The Jordan label is actually owned by Nike, so even though both brands have their set of different products, most Jordan stuff is still trademarked by Nike.
This is why technology (cushion, support systems, materials, etc.) is shared across the two labels.
A PRICE TO PAY
Last but not least, we all know how luxurious the price tags can be for kicks by the Jumpman, and this is commonly no different for their performance basketball models.
While their team models are less expensive than most of the prestigious Air Jordan 1 mid models or even other signature lines, the pricing on average is still higher than just about any other brand.
Expect to spend at least $130-$140 for a lower-tier shoe from Jordan, and all the way to $185+ for their flagship shoes.
II. JORDAN BASKETBALL SHOES: WHAT’S AVAILABLE?
Let’s break down the entirety of the Jordan basketball shoe catalog in a practical way
Jordan doesn’t actually offer nearly as much variety as Nikey does. The Jordan athlete roster has been filling up lately but as of right now, we only have a few signature shoe lines, as well as a few team models.
Russell Westbrook, Zion Williamson, and the man himself, Michael Jordan, are the main signature athletes for Jordan Brand. However, Luka Dončić is coming to the roster very soon, so be on the lookout for his debut sneaker.
With that, let’s break down the entire catalog of Jordan’s basketball shoe offerings.
THE AIR JORDAN LINE
The very first Air Jordan model arrived in 1985 and Michael Jordan’s signature shoe line has been going strong ever since, even despite MJ’s retirement in 2003.
It is single-handedly the most influential sneaker line in terms of basketball, streetwear, and the culture of sneakers in general. However, we’re not here to talk about classic retros for styling purposes.
We’re concentrating on basketball performance and that’s what the Air Jordan models from around 28 all the way to today are all about.
This is where you’ll find flagship technology, highest-grade build quality, but also steep pricing.
You generally get what you pay for though, and if you manage to get yourself an Air Jordan 28 all the way to the 36 (and counting), you’ll mostly be good to go no matter your style or build on the court.
SIGNATURE ATHLETE: Michael Jordan
PRICE RANGE: $160-$185
SHOES AVAILABLE: 36 and counting: Air Jordan 1 – Air Jordan 36 (certain models also feature low-top and SE variants)
BEST FOR: most players. Particularly bigger guards, wings or two-way players
PROS: ✔ flagship technology & build quality ✔ suits just about any player ✔ yearly release
CONS: ✖ the most expensive Jordan line ✖ mediocre for outdoor play ✖ not very casualf-friendly: recent shoes are all about performance
MY FAVORITE SHOE: Air Jordan 34
THE ‘WHY NOT?’ LINE
Russell Westbrook lives and breathes by the motto “Why Not?” and his main signature shoe line resembles this with flashy colorways and extravagant designs all over his sneakers.
But in terms of performance on the court, the ‘Why Not’ shoe isn’t a slouch either.
They’re fairly well-rounded sneakers that can do a bit of everything. However, explosive, fast & athletic hoopers will surely enjoy his sneakers the most due to fantastic linear performance, energetic cushion systems, and excellent support without abundant restrictions.
They also happen to fall in the mid-tier pricing spectrum but if you’re interested in what they offer, I recommend reading up on individual model reviews.
Quite a bit of wearers seem to report that performance isn’t always consistent model by model.
SIGNATURE ATHLETE: Russell Westbrook
PRICE RANGE: $120-$150
SHOES AVAILABLE: 5 and counting: Jordan ‘Why Not?’ Zer0.1 – Jordan ‘Why Not?’ Zer0.5
BEST FOR: all-around players, explosive guards, athletic wings/forwards
PROS: ✔ versatile shoes at mid-tier prices ✔ some of the models are among the most supportive shoes you can find
CONS: ✖ a no-go for casual wear for a lot of people ✖ often mediocre build quality for a flagship signature
MY FAVORITE SHOE: Jordan ‘Why Not?’ Zer0.4
THE ONE TAKE LINE
If you’re liking what you’re seeing about the ‘Why Not’ sneaker line but can’t afford to spend $100+ on a pair – shift your attention over to the One Take line.
This is Westbrook’s secondary (takedown) sneaker line that offers similar qualities to the ‘Why Not’ shoes but is made with affordability in mind.
Expect solid all-around performance with these models, decent versatility (though they’re still best for bigger/more explosive hoopers), and prices that start falling quite quickly after each model’s release.
The main caveats I’ve noticed about most of the One Take shoes are mediocre outsoles in terms of durability and they’re quite narrow in construction, so wide footers like myself won’t be playing in these too much.
SIGNATURE ATHLETE: Russell Westbrook
PRICE RANGE: $100
SHOES AVAILABLE: 3 and counting: Jordan Westbrook One Take I – Jordan One Take III
BEST FOR: all-around players, bigger guards, wings, linear-dominant movements
PROS: ✔ solid all-around performers on a budget ✔ quick to go on sale due to little demand
CONS: ✖ questionable traction for lateral movements at times ✖ mediocre for outdoor play ✖ not the best options for wide footers
MY FAVORITE SHOE: Jordan Westbrook One Take I
THE ZION LINE
Currently, the newest induction to the Jordan family is Zion Williamson. His first sneaker, the Zion 1, is the only shoe available during the time of writing this guide, and for a debut model – it’s pretty solid.
Available for $120 at retail, the Zion 1 gave me excellent comfort due to a plush Air Strobel unit going from heel to toe, great outdoor traction, a decent upper, and a wide foot-friendly fit.
Be careful if you’ll be playing indoors though, as lots of hoopers who spend their time in a gym reported questionable grip. Also, narrow footers will probably want to go down half a size from their usual choice.
SIGNATURE ATHLETE: Zion Williamson
PRICE RANGE: $120
SHOES AVAILABLE: 1 and counting: Jordan Zion 1
BEST FOR: bigger/heavier players such as wings or forwards, athletic styles, linear-dominant movements
PROS: ✔ a solid performer for just $120 ✔ very comfortable for long periods of wear
CONS: ✖ questionable traction indoors ✖ fits long ✖ support heavily relies on a perfect fit
MY FAVORITE SHOE: Jordan Zion 1 (the only one available so far)
THE TEAM MODELS
Apart from signature lines, Jordan also releases a few team performance models each year. During the time of writing this guide, the main attraction would be the Jordan Zoom Separate – a shoe endorsed by Luka Dončić.
I was never a huge fan of either team model by JB but not to say they’re bad basketball shoes.
It’s just that you could find fantastic performers that offer the same (if not more) for less $$$ when you take a look at what adidas, Under Armour, or even Puma has to offer.
Expect mid-tier tech specs and build quality from these models, solid all-around performance, and pricing in the $100-$140 range.
My favorite sneaker in the Jordan team model catalog would have to be either the React Elevation or the more recent Zoom Separate.
III. WHERE TO BUY JORDAN HOOP SHOES?
Here are the main places to look at when shopping for a Jumpman basketball sneaker
Let’s get started with the basics of purchasing a Jordan basketball shoe.
If you’re extremely cost-effective and always strive to spend the least amount for the best product possible – you might want to skip over to the next section.
However, for those who value convenience over everything else and are okay with paying retail pricing (or close to it) – here are the main places you should look at when buying Jordan basketball sneakers quickly & easily.
FOR CURRENT RELEASES
This one’s a no-brainer. All Jordan basketball sneakers released the same year you’re interested in them are available at the retailer’s website. So, your primary option would be to visit Nikey if you want a fresh pair of current models.
If Nike/Jordan doesn’t have your size or desired colorway, your next best bet is to visit any other popular sports retailer.
Those would be the likes of Finish Line, Foot Locker, DICK’s Sporting Goods, Champs Sports, or any other you’re aware of.
These sports retailers use a similar formula to the manufacturer, meaning they usually have the current models in stock for over a year.
Shortly after, clearance hits, and new models are brought in while older releases go on sale until they’re fully replaced with fresh stock.
FOR SLIGHTLY OLDER RELEASES
If you’re interested in a pair that’s, say, 2-3 years old and isn’t available on Nikey – you’ve got a few alternative options.
Something I noticed is one sports retailer in particular, DICK’s Sporting Goods, often has some leftover stock still available while other retailers have long wiped theirs.
So if you can’t find the shoe on Nikey or your favorite sports stores – I always recommend checking DICK’s since they tend to have some surprises.
However, some sneakers simply aren’t going to be available anywhere in terms of sneaker retailers. This is when I often check Amazon for such shoes.
Believe it or not, Amazon actually has some really good stuff that’s a few years old. About 6-12 months after the stock has been cleared up on sneaker retailers is when I tend to see some of these shoes emerge on Amazon.
FOR DEADSTOCK SHOES
For Jordan hoop shoes that passed the 3-4-year-old mark and aren’t available on any convenient sneaker/sports store anymore – it’s time to take your efforts over to deadstock marketplaces.
StockX and GOAT would be the go-to places to shop for deadstock shoes and if you’re shopping for performance models – you won’t see all of that ridiculous pricing that you get for hyped/vintage models.
I know that the reception on these marketplaces is fairly mixed. Some people had a tough time getting shoes from them, while others claimed they received unauthentic pairs.
I personally never had an issue with StockX or GOAT (not saying there’s no chance I will in the future), so it’s always best to read up on opinions from both sides instead of focusing on just one.
IV. HOW TO BUY JORDAN BASKETBALL SHOES FOR CHEAPER
If retail prices aren’t cutting it, I’ve got some important tips to share on saving as much $$$ as possible
It’s time to talk about saving cash – a topic that’s extremely relevant for Jordan products as they tend to get very pricy. If you can’t always afford to pay full retail, there are several critical points to remember in order to land the best possible deals.
These methods work for just about any basketball shoe including JB’s. So take note and you’ll be well on your way to buying the same stuff for less $$$ if you’re patient.
Clearance is the meat & potatoes of saving cash when shopping for basketball sneakers. What is it? Simple. Let’s break it down.
Retailers have current stock in 2021. A year flies by and 2022 arrives – Jordan releases new basketball models. The models released in 2021 are now considered a season old and retailers will try their best to push out these shoes as quickly as possible in order to have space for the new 2022 stock.
That’s when huge sales and discounts emerge for these 1/2-year-old sneakers which can still be fantastic options to play in.
So if you’re patient and okay with hooping in a slightly older shoe (which you absolutely should be these days) – late summer/early Fall is the golden period to track down huge sales on Nikey/Jordan, other sports retailers, Amazon, or just about anywhere else.
BACK TO SCHOOL & SUMMER SALES
This goes hand-in-hand with clearance: early Fall (September) is also the back-to-school season for a lot of apparel & footwear labels.
While performance products aren’t usually the focus at this time, there were a few cases when I managed to cop a discounted pair of basketball shoes during this time.
The same goes for the summer period. Early-mid June and even prior to that, late May are when stores typically launch their summer sales.
If you’re looking for the biggest possible savings and have the ability to do some live shopping, sports outlets are the GOAT of saving $$$ on Jordan basketball shoes.
The United States has some really awesome outlet stores that have plenty of discounted pairs of hoop shoes pretty much 365 days per year.
Ross, TJ Maxx, and Marshall’s would be the most notable ones. If those aren’t available in your region, you can find a brand outlet just about anywhere in the world (Nike/Jordan outlet).
UNCOVER MORE METHODS TO SAVE $$$ ON JORDANS
I could ramble about how to buy Jordan basketball shoes all day here but I want to keep this one brief.
However, for those who are interested in getting even deeper insight into saving as much money as possible, I’ve actually got a complete guide on buying basketball shoes for cheap.
I break down these methods above in greater detail as well as provide some additional tips & tricks such as becoming a brand member, using Honey, or learning the yearly sale patterns for each brand.
V. MY FAVORITE JORDANS TO HOOP IN RIGHT NOW
Here’s my latest rotation of Jordan sneakers I love hooping in the most. Click on the shoe name for a full review
Air Jordan 34
& 180 USD 🏆 8.4/10
The 2019’s AJ 34 is STILL my favorite Jordan basketball shoe to date. It’s a shoe that clicked for many people and so it did for me.
It’s tough to explain how the AJ 34 feels without you actually trying it. One word that stands out for me is seamless.
From the Zoom Air cushion feeling smooth as butter, to the ultra-comfy textile upper that’s actually strong AND lightweight – everything about the 34 felt right.
It’s also a shoe that will do the trick for wide footers, it should last a while outdoors (not the most durable outsoles but still pretty good) and you can track these down under retail on StockX or GOAT now.
Air Jordan 36
$185 USD 🏆 8/10
As hard as it is to top of the 34, I feel like the 36 comes at a fairly close second for me in the Jumpman repertoire.
The only area where I noticed a slight downgrade is comfort. This new Leno-Weave upper is surely a phenomenal creation as it offers some of the best durability while staying ultra-lightweight but comfort took a slight step back due to it.
Apart from that, everything else feels right at home with the rest of the AJ lineup: versatile performance.
Fantastic full-length Zoom Air Strobel cushion, amazing step propulsion thanks to the Eclipse Plate, solid traction, and strong support without overly restricting the player.
Jordan Zoom Separate
$ 110 USD
I’m almost done with the testing period of the Jordan Zoom Separate and it looks like things will be closing out on a good note for me.
It’s a shoe that didn’t overly impress me or caught me off guard in any way but everything I need from a sneaker on the court – I felt like I received. Mostly.
The Zoom Separate gave me solid traction (though I did need to wipe the outsoles down quite often indoors), lightweight support, and a wide foot-friendly fit.
The main thing I didn’t appreciate about these is forefoot-focused cushion. It’s not bad per se but as someone who does plant with their heel at times, I missed impact protection in that area a bit.
VI. HOW TO BUY JORDAN BASKETBALL SHOES: BONUS Q&A
Let me give you some bonus nuggets you might find useful about Jordan hoop shoes
While I was writing this guide, a few things popped into my head that didn’t particularly fit any section here.
I thought I’d answer some of the questions a newcomer/average consumer might have about Jordan basketball models.
WHAT DO EP, PF, AND OTHER LABELING MEAN ON JORDAN/NIKE SHOES?
When searching for Jordan/Nike basketball sneakers, sometimes you might come across a model that has ‘EP’ or ‘PF’ included in its name additionally. Let’s break down what all of those mean.
EP: Engineered Performance. This is for Nike shoes, and it means that the shoe has been constructed overseas.
Everything about the sneaker is shared with its U.S counterpart but XDR rubber outsoles are additionally slapped on for better outdoor durability and a wider fit will often be featured with this edition as well.
PF: Performance Fit. Jordan’s labeling of the same thing essentially (Nike’s EP).
PE: Player Exclusive. Some Jordan shoes are endorsed by athletes and those players will receive exclusive colorways made by Jordan specifically for them.
SE: Special Edition. Some models like the Air Jordan 34 received an alternative version after the initial release. This could mean virtually anything. The Air Jordan 34, for example, received a material upgrade with its SE variant.
OVERSEAS VS. UNITED STATES JORDAN SHOES: ARE THEY DIFFERENT?
This ties into the EP/PF question. If you’re buying a Jordan shoe outside of the United States, you’ll essentially receive a pair that’s equivalent to the EP/PF pair in the U.S. (unless specifically stated otherwise).
This means that XDR rubber will be featured on the outsoles, and commonly also a wider fit.
SHOULD YOU BUY OLDER RETROS FOR BASKETBALL?
This is a question that many hoopers have divided opinions on. We see NBA basketball players wearing old-school Jordan 4’s, 11’s, or others during games – so it’s only right for us regular hoopers to wear those as well, right?
I don’t believe it’s that simple. But I don’t think you should overcomplicate it either.
If you like an older shoe – try it out and see if you like playing in it. There are no rules about what you should or shouldn’t do. However, there are some things to remember.
Retro Jordan kicks don’t offer the same technology and design innovation as the newer stuff does. They’re considerably heavier, bulkier, and less comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
They’re also harder to obtain as we all know just about any AJ in the series that’s up until the 28 will cost you a pretty penny.
I personally don’t play in older models just due to performance reasons but you are always welcome to try and see if it’s for you.
Wrapping up the guide on how to buy Jordan basketball shoes: main takeaways and final words
That officially wraps up everything to know about buying Jordan basketball shoes! I believe this will be an excellent resource for entry-level Jordan basketball sneaker buyers. I truly hope you found at least some of it useful!
While Nikey is still the king of the sneaker market, the Jumpman is a prestigious brand that’s looking to add more and more signature athletes to its roster.
What does that mean? More competition for other brands = better prices and better offerings across ALL brands.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this though. Do you even buy Jordan hoop shoes or do you stick with lifestyle stuff like the AJ 1 when it comes to the Jumpman? Perhaps you have any additional questions I haven’t answered in the guide?