They went from black cats to fast cars… both are beasts in their own right.
Traction – Herringbone is in place and this time around it doesn’t ensure great traction. The grooves aren’t as peaked/ sharp as other herringbone patterns so it isn’t able to bite the floor as well. Consistent wiping of the outsoles will be required – unless you play on pristine floor conditions – in order to achieve optimal traction. Surprisingly, the Air Jordan XIV’s traction worked very well outdoors so that’s a plus.
Cushion – Originally, the Air Jordan XIV featured heel Zoom Air and forefoot Articulated Zoom Air. The heel unit hasn’t changed at all but the forefoot is now a basic Zoom unit and they’ve been slimmed down a bit since their last Retro release. These aren’t quite as cushioned as they once were but they still get the job done. One thing to note is that the midsole is pretty low profile so court feel is enhanced a bit as there is less material between your foot and the floor. I personally still prefer the way they used to feel but this is the way Nike makes their ‘basic’ Zoom Air units now so we just have to deal with it.
Material – The leather is nice but the nubuck used isn’t. Luckily there is more leather than nubuck so you can sort of ignore it a bit. Air Jordan XIV’s aren’t known for being the most durable – the upper will last just fine – as the foam teeth located at the forefoot tend to take a lot of damage and even separate from the toe box. This isn’t something I’ve experienced on this pair – didn’t play in them long enough – but it will happen overtime. If you wanted a Retro to last then the Air Jordan XII is the one you’ll want to look at, these will last a season just fine but anything afterward is a crap shoot.
Fit – They fit true to size and the leather will stretch a bit so if you have wide feet that aren’t extremely wide then you may want to try to break them in versus going up 1/2 size. Lockdown at the midfoot was perfectly fine for me, it was the heel that had some sloppiness to it. The collar has an asymmetrical design to it that was supposed to be better fitting around the ankle while providing support – this works for the most part – but the heel piece is too high and ends up pushing against the ankle instead of cupping it. Its a minor setback but one that was bothersome. It definitely brings greater appreciation to small modifications found in ‘modern’ footwear – LeBron X Elite collar is a pretty good example of a great fitting ankle collar.
Ventilation – As with nearly every single pair of Air Jordan’s, the ventilation isn’t great. However, Tinker did implement an air vent into the shoe which was always a really cool – albeit stupid – feature in my mind when I was younger. This means two things… 1. ventilation isn’t good in the XIV & 2. ventilation is an attribute that was and currently still is a focal point for performance footwear.
Support – Torsional support is abundant with the enlarged TPU shank plate in place but the lack of proper heel lockdown prevents complete support. Luckily the shoe is fairly low to the ground and has a stable/ flat base so support doesn’t suffer too greatly.
Overall – I personally love playing in these. Always have and always will. The main thing I dislike about this Retro version is the lack of quality from the nubuck and the lack of cushion when directly comparing them to their previous releases. Other than that, these are still very playable on-court and I wouldn’t mind using them as an outdoor shoe at all. If these suit your needs as a player then there is no reason to shy away from them for those that wish to have some style while on-court.