The Air Jordan XXXI Performance Review | NYJumpman23

Jordan Brand is back with another performance sneaker and this time it’s the signature line shoe. The advertising slogan for the Air Jordan XXXI is about “defying gravity,” yet last year’s model fell far short of greatness. Is the latest iteration a game-winner or an air-ball? We’ll just have to find out…

Terminal 23 Court


Traction – It’s not bad, but it’s not great — it’s inconsistent. On pristine courts you’ll have a great time, but on dirtier floors the traction stays right as long as you wipe often (though not as often as you have to in the AJ30). If the shoe used denser rubber, or the compound that was used on the Air Jordan 29, or even solid rubber, the traction would’ve been better.

If the shoe was influenced by the Air Jordan 1, why not utilize same traction pattern that works? The Air Jordan 1 traction and rubber was solid. The biggest influence comes from an after-thought…the Air Jordan 1 Alpha. The Alpha used the same AJ1 traction but modernized it with herringbone to make the traction even more badass. I mean, if you could do it on an alternate model, why wouldn’t/couldn’t you just do it on the Air Jordan 31?


Cushion – It’s been a while, but I’m glad full-length Zoom Air is back. Last I recall was the Air Jordan 2010 utilizing it, but the XXXI’s cushion felt similar to the Air Jordan 18; and that was to be expected, since Tate Kuerbis designed both the 18 and 31. While it’s nowhere near the cushion feel of the Nike Zoom KD9, the Zoom works.

I was expecting something much more…different. Different how? Well, Jordan Brand is regarded as the leader in innovation so I was hoping for something along the lines of an updated or modified Articulated Zoom Air cushion (like on KD9) or something completely mind-blowing. However, we get the same cushion set-up we’ve seen since ’97. My expectations continue to be disappointed since we already passed the XXX and now the XXXI model. That’s not to say the cushion doesn’t work well, I just expected more.


Materials – Here’s where it gets a little edgy. This is what the Air Jordan XXX should have been. While I really love the midfoot-to-toe performance woven materials, I’m not a fan of the synthetic leather and how it transitions from the performance woven because not only does the synthetic material feel cheap, but it doesn’t seem like much thought went into it. 

The other minor gripe I have is the material used in the inner boot along with the anatomical pillows — the materials used could have been way softer. This is why I brought up the Air Jordan 1 Alpha. The interior lining of the Alpha was not only soft but super comfortable. Why not use the same or similar materials that don’t cause irritation upon wearing the shoe? I hold high expectations when it comes to Jordan Brand, as we all should. I dislike having to break in the materials; if I’m spending $185, I expect everything to work right from the start — step in and go. The pros and cons are there, as with every shoe. However, the way the materials were utilized aided the shoe’s performance.


Fit – The Air Jordan 31 fit true to size. Because of the woven materials, my slightly wide Shrek-like feet had no problem with the slight stretchiness of the materials. There is some adjustment needed in terms of lacing, but once you’re locked in, you’re ready to Take Flight. The heel lock down is where the shoe stands out. Again, I wish the interior lining material were much softer, and the stitching was more strategically placed, but it all comes together fine when you get down to the nitty-gritty. I’d say the fit is one of my favorite aspects of the shoe.

AJXXXI - Support

Support – The support is good but not outstanding. I’m secure in the shoe while having little digs in to the back of my Achilles, but that went away after breaking in the shoe. The unlocked Zoom feels great on foot but it’s something I’ve already tested out in the past (give me the articulated Zoom from the KD9, sliced thin for a low-to-the-ground ride — think the Nike Viz Zoom Uptempo). The heel lockdown and the fit of the shoe are the highlights. Everything else worked well, but I was expecting more.

AJXXXI - Overall

Overall – While this shoe could and should have been what the Air Jordan 30 was supposed to be, the reboot of the line is just modernized nostalgia. It’s nice to pay homage to previous models, but performance is where it’s at. Does the shoe perform? It absolutely does. I do like how the shoe adapts to my movements while providing adequate lockdown and support. The cushion feels fine but I was expecting something totally different or new, and the traction has its suspect points. The shoe itself, with the exception of the Wings logo, swoosh, and the top lacing, doesn’t really make me think Air Jordan 1; it’s more like an updated Air Jordan 18, 19, and 29 because the fit and traction were all similar. While the structural aspect of the shoe is nice, not every aspect of the shoe worked well.

I always feel like if you’re going to put a number or next iteration of following models, it should be something completely different with new or vastly improved technology. For this case, and like its predecessors, I’ve found the signature Jordan line to be a one step forward and two steps back situation. I’m disappointed but I have high expectations, especially for Jordan Brand. That’s not to say the brand can’t learn or adjust but we hope to see something completely different for the next version.

We’re hoping the Air Jordan XXX2 that’s in its testing phase isn’t of a resemblance of the Air Jordan 2, because, man…I wouldn’t know what to think. Update and modernize the full-length cushioning, use a softer blend of interior materials (think AJ1 Alpha/AJ29), implement fine full-grain tumbled leather if you must be nostalgic, and please make a better traction system (again, think AJ1 Alpha solid rubber herringbone). Of course, I hope this is taken as constructive criticism and not a dig at a brand I have worn and supported for many years.

If you’re going to place a $185 price tag on a shoe it must perform and look worthy of its price point. Here’s hoping for a game-winner on the next version.


Air Jordan XXXI


Black/Wolf Grey/White


Black/university red/White “Banned”


Black/university red/White “Banned” | White/University Red/Royal “USA”


Black/university red/White “Banned” | White/University Red/Royal “USA”


Black/university red/White “Banned”


Black/university red/White “Banned” | White/University Red/Royal “USA”


  1. I loved my alpha 1. I hope i could get another. Zoom bottomed out of mine. No air anymore. Still get looks when i wear mine casually. All black cw.

    1. I still have the Yellow/Blk & Black/Red as seen in video. Love em. Although zoom was bottom loaded, You didn’t feel it till you’ve put enough time into it. Thanks for reading.

  2. I think the new 31’s are better than most people say. I just think the bar was set higher with the KD9 and the Crazy Explosive (for tihe price). I agree with you, they should of implemented the OG 1 style traction. I wondering if they’ll come out with a gum or a solid outsole. I’m very hyped for the Rare Metals. Another good performance review by NYJumpman23.

    1. Thanks Nate2. I mean, I tried to put in more hours on this pair particular. They do perform better than the 30, that’s without a question, however there is still something lacking such as the “next wave of the future” type wow factor or tech. The gum outsole should be on the Shattered BB AJ31, but as far as I know, Jimmy Butler and certain other NBA players have been playing in the solid outsole version (particular during the Olympics). Well, if and when the Rare metals are for sale or available, I definitely will be working on them. Thanks for the support.

  3. LOL, it doesn’t look like much running was being done in the video, so how did the shoe feel during an all out sprint from end to end, did anyone try it? Good containment?

    1. Sec,
      yeah, although the video doesn’t show it, I definitely put in a lot of hours in the shoe. The containment was surprisingly good. It held the foot in place without the foot shifting out of place, even while doing hard lateral movements. The zoom air felt prominent, pretty much what you’d feel in the Air Jordan 12,13,18,19, without any protrusion. The concern again, the traction. On all out sprints and stop and go, if the floor isn’t pristine or super clean, you’ll be expecting to slip and slide on more occasions than 1, unless you wipe every other step.
      I don’t always have my tripod or Camera with me when I play, so I do the best I can,however I definitely put in hours, especially with the USA, Brazil, and Banned CWs. Thanks for reading.

  4. So basically IYO the “flight speed” did ZERO for the Zoom? It wasn’t even mentioned in your review, you basically said this was ’97 Zoom…I don’t see how you came to that conclusion. I have both the 31 and the XII, put one on each foot and you can tell the difference between both types of Zoom.

    1. CEO
      It was a base of reference. it’s Zoom Air used over and over again
      one’s full length, the other is full-length unlocked zoom, apparently you missed that point.
      When was the last time JB used something other than
      Max air, Zoom, or Podulon?

  5. ^c’mon guy, Unlocked Zoom is an entirely different setup. Zoom is a foundation that can be used in numerous ways, as you know. What the XX8s did with Zoom was ground-breaking and brought life back to it’s innovation. IMO it rightfully extended the shelf life of Zoom. Is there a better Woven shoe on the market? (J-Crossover came close) What else is there to use in Nike’s kitchen? Lunarlon is not for everyone, but it’s been in a couple JB shoes already.

    1. The main point is… (if you want to nitpick) Where is the innovation? it’s far beyond just a cushion set up. And yes, I know the difference between the utilization of Zoom, however,I don’t find it a need to justify myself (no offense).
      The zoom felt amazing on the XX8, unfortunately, the strategic set up of it led it to be more devastating with it eventually popping.
      As far as you asking if there’s a better woven shoe on the market? You might want to check the previous performance reviews from our WT team then. I’ve grown up a Nike/Jordan person, but as time goes on, there are other brands that give you just as much ala Brandblack, Adidas, Under Armour, etc. It’s best to keep an open mind.

  6. most reviews that i have seen talked about how horrible the traction is. Is it that bad or is it decent in your opinion? thanks!

    1. it’s not bad, but it’s not great. Not everyone has access to a super clean/pristine court at all times, So when you play on everyday courts, you find yourself having to wipe the bottom of your shoe more often than not. Would you rather spend your time being stable on court, being able to shift and move freely, or spend 1/2 your time wiping your feet. That’s the thing. I personally think it works better than the 30, however, each shoe fits and reacts different to everyone’s foot, since not all feet are the contoured the same.

  7. I normally don’t make comments on anything but I had to say something. I am gonna TRY to keep this simple as possible. Here is a little background on myself. I have been collecting sneakers since 1995 and playing ALL sports since I was 4, I am 36 now and I have worn every Jordan (1-31 ALL originals) and most Signature Nike since. I agree totally what CEO was saying, but can also respect your opinion as an individual. I also am a fan of the full-length zoom, but in my opinion “what is not broke, don’t need fixing. The technology on the shoe is already great, why add to something that already works for most athletes. I love the 31s, 30s, 28s, 2012s, 2011s, 2010s and 2009s, they all worked during their time. The 30s are what the 29s should have been in my opinion, and I think they out perform the 31s for me because of my build (6’1”- 205lbs). They stay glued to your feet and have better reaction time then the 31s, even though the cushioning is outstanding in them I pefer to play in 30s over 31s, but not knocking because I love the 31s but not as a better basketball shoe but as great athletic shoe period, but again just giving my personal opinion.

  8. Another great review bro. I will definitely hold off on this model until I can get them seriously discounted. They aren’t getting the type of overall reviews that I’d expect and the traction issue is a major problem. I have enough issues without having to worry about doing the splits with the way my legs are setup…LOL!!! Keep up the great work.

  9. 31s are legendary , I have to say we wont know how dope they are until the 33s. the 32s will look insane and build off these. people cnt take their eyes off mine when I rock em. learn forex trading on nwufx yt or fb

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