Why Russell Westbrook Doesn’t Like the Air Jordan 31

We finally have a reason why Russell Westbrook has been wearing a hybrid version of the Air Jordan 31.

According to the equipment manager of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Russ wasn’t happy with the outsole flexibility of Jordan Brand’s latest flagship model:

“When Nike sent Westbrook its latest model, the Jordan 31, he wasn’t happy
with the sole flexibility, so he asked the company to build him a special
hybrid using the previous model’s sole.” – 
Wilson Taylor via New York Times

The article also mentions that Russ didn’t like the overall thickness of the insole’s in his modified hybrids and has the equipment manager switch them out by hand.

What do you guys think of Russ’ complaint of the AJ 31’s sole? Would you like to see Jordan Brand release Westbrook’s hybrid 31’s? Sound off in the comment section below.




  1. Has any company ever fallen off so quickly in terms of putting out performers? Jordan 30’s and 31’s, M13, Superfly 5 have all been disappointments. It wasn’t that long ago that they were killing it with the 28 and 29, the Melo’s were always good, and the Superfly line was cool. Jordan Brand needs to get it together and come back strong.

        1. yeah it sck balls…if theyre saying the 31 is like the new version of j1s…they shouldve have use the j1 outsole…the responsiveness of j1s is still top notch…

  2. Yes, Yes, and Yes. The jordan 29 was one the best midsole ever wish they would have had the unlock zoom also in the heel like the 28 but still it be a way better performance from stability, flexibility and traction if it’s same as 29.

  3. Sole flexibility? Does he mean traction?

    Also wasn’t there supposed to be a solid rubber outsole version coming out?

    1. Sole-flex = usually midsole interference(or lack of interference), the XX8, and XX9 have decoupled mid-foots allowing the shoe to function almost like a cleat, the footbed is a platform, and all movement is controlled, and initiated right under foot.

      The XXX1 with it’s full-length sole bends at the mid-foot(it has to, or they’ll be really clunky), which slows the shoe down, I’m pretty sure Westbrook hates to be slowed down by equipment, since he relies on being fast.

      1. Agree here — guarantee he gets more “pop” from the frame of the XX9/XXX

        I’m no Russ obviously… but I know that I typically prefer something with a decent amount of rigidity since I still have a decent amount of spring/power. Quicker springback from something with a decent shank/firmness to it.

        Hope that makes sense…

  4. I merely buy Jordan retros nowadays for casual wear alone. for performance and casual, I’d go Adidas. great rubber and great cushion.

  5. lets not forget non of us play like Westbrook. The shear force when he plays is unlike anyone. Jimmy butler plays just fine in them. He doesn’t move like Westbrook though. The 31s are a really great performance shoe. If I played like Westbrook id prefer 30s and 29s as well. 😎

    1. Sorry but DEX, that’s an excuse, performance is about lifting play higher, the 31 is a nice shoe, but it’s slower than the XX9, or XX9.5, the reason is comfort.

      So no, the 31’s are a nice, comfortable shoe, and for some that’s enough(a lot of players don’t need their sneakers to be equipment, they can do with just comfort), it’s not a performance beast though, because it’s a little less good than pervious Jordans in almost every way.

      1. The reason isn’t from lack of comfort. It’s what’s suitable for that particular player. Westbrook has the right to wear what fits him best for his style of play. Not to mention Tinker himself said it was hard to find a way to make the 30 better then the 29. If it isn’t broken then don’t fix it kinda thing. Why u think the only difference of those two is simply the traction pattern? And the 28s are practically the same minus the extra stability in the center right under the carbon fiber and the position of the zoom back. The 31s were designed by someone else other then tinker. I can almost guarantee that Westbrook didn’t have his full input on designing 31s Unlike Jordan himself in his playing days. If u hit the brakes or cut as hard as Westbrook or someone as big as Lebron with that style of play, the 31s will look like a flat tire during those hard cuts. most players around the world aren’t that big and fast to make that happen. 31s are a GREAT ball shoe but not the best. With that being said, it be interesting what they do with the 32s.

  6. At retail? sure, why not. If it fixes a problem that some people have with it, then good right? It’s when an athlete has, for example, a freakishly narrow, wide, high arched, flat or numb foot that the brand decides to go with that and ignore everything else.

    Signature athletes can get things (like this hybrid) done to their shoes. Common people don’t.

  7. I honestly want to buy them for the sole reason to “be like Russ” lol.
    He’s playing out of his mind this year.

  8. Makes you wonder – When they say shoes were made to work for ALL athletes…but apparently not if you have to modify the actual silhouette. So…for “SOME” players

  9. This is the same problem I have with the Hyperdunk Flyknit and XXX1. I enjoy playing the the 29s more because they encourage you to stay on your toes with the decoupled midsole. I found myself landing flatfooted in the hyperdunk flyknit and xxx1 because of the stiffer flatter midsole/outsole. Thats a problem for me because I’ve had knee surgeries in the past and landing flatted footed is really bad. Also, I agree, a decoupled outsole makes it a little easier to sprint.

    All these shoes are pretty comfortable though. I’d cop some hybrid 31s. I love the 29 midsole. They’re still my go-tos.

  10. How are they designing Jordans nowadays anyway since they don’t have to design them for MJ’s performance needs? I was assuming that Russ was the face of the brand now, but he doesn’t even like the flagship shoe as-is. It might make sense to give Russ his own line and let Kawhi be the face since his game is more rounded for any position and are wearing the XXX1 without any know modifications.

    1. That’s a legitimate question. I wonder who they are using as the tester if they don’t pass the Westbrook test? Are they just using other players/people in addition to a few athletes because I doubt they would just be using Butler and Leonard who are brand athletes but I didn’t consider them the face of the Brand.

  11. Honestly the XXX’s were some of the best shoes Ive ever played in. They just felt fast and responsive on foot, more than the 29s

    Its funny how Westbrook has been beasting out in the XXX’s/XXX1 hybrid for the past 2 seasons. Its the same setup

  12. Honestly I think some people are making too much out of this. It’s his preference. Haters are like “whoa Nike failed; they should’ve offered it like this” etc

    But then if the 31 did come that way “whoa Nike still all out of ideas; what garbage”

    They’re experimenting and sorting their own crap out. Nike/JB tried to deliver a full-length Flight Plate/Speed setup, and for whatever reason it took them outside of the development stages to find out its shortcomings. I know I’ve said before that I think they’re blindly designing, but who really knows? People forget that Adidas pairs were usually teetering on being forgettable before last year.

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