Traction – Herringbone is in place in targeted section for optimal impact or strike zones… and it worked really well. I was worried about the translucent rubber along with its slightly yellowed appearance (due to age) and whether or not it would grip the court but I was very pleased with it overall. Dusty courts were definitely a different story and required the outsole to be wiped clean with your hands at every dead ball. With all that being said, the little tiny black rubber nubs along the lateral section of the outsole were the most surprising feature. Not only was it a way to tell a story but it also had a really nice function or purpose on the floor. Those little nubs stick out of the translucent section just enough to grab the floor perfectly during lateral maneuvers which made cutting or running though screens to catch and shoot a breeze. A part of the design that likely has gone unnoticed to casual wearers was a really surprising touch that only a basketball player would appreciate.
Cushion – A heel blow-molded Air unit is in place – don’t ask me what that means… I have no clue – along with a forefoot Zoom unit and Phylon midsole. Overall, they feel nothing like the OG… shocking, I know. However, they weren’t uncomfortable at all. They just didn’t offer the same responsive ride that the original does. Again, nothing really shocking there as I’ve had this same hit or miss experience throughout the Air Jordan Project and even with some current models that feature the once great Nike tech.
Materials – The materials are great all the way around. Patent leather, nice raw leather, nubuck and mesh… you have a little of everything… its like a freaking buffet of materials. They will require some break-in time up front with the patent leather but everything else falls into place rather nicely. Its a durable build with nice contrasting panels… nothing to complain about at all.
Fit – They did something new with the Air Jordan XVI in the toe area, shaping it to be more squared which was partially a fashion decision as some high end dress shoes feature a squared toe but there was also a performance aspect attached to it as well. With a squared toe you allow the foot to fit inside the shoe more naturally and it also removed any toe crunching you may or may not experience in other models. This will be beneficial for wide-footers and with this setup I’d go true to size. For people like myself, with a slightly narrower foot, going down 1/2 gave me the snug and secure fit that I personally look for. Once that was done then everything else worked perfectly together in terms of their lockdown. If you are unable to try on a pair – likely at this point since they have only released once in 2008 since their initial debut – then the fit may be something that concerns you… getting the right size at least. If you get the right size for your foot then you wont have anything to worry about at all.
Ventilation – As we’ve seen before, ventilation is not their strong suit. The Air Jordan XVI+ on the other hand… those are much more breathable so if you need ventilation then at least there is an alternative… you just have to hope the original pair of XVI+’s are still wearable on-court.
Support – Their support is solid overall. Nice wide forefoot as the platform followed by a nice fit and a full length spring plate/ torsional system. This coupled with everything noted above makes them on of the more well-rounded Air Jordan models I’ve worn to date.
Overall – I like them overall, finding myself going back to them quite often despite their lack of cushion. Their overall low profile feel and fit were my favorite attributes while the traction followed suit… so long as the floor was clean. I know its a long shot but Jordan Brand should really consider making the Air Jordan XVI one more time for a Retro run… casual wearers and hoopers alike will enjoy them.