With the Air Jordan I out of the way we can continue the Air Jordan Project as it leads into the next generation of performance footwear technology, next generation back in 1987 at least.
Every Retro incarnation of the AJ2 – from 1994 to present day – is quite different from that of its 1987 original counterpart. Rumor has it the original mold for the AJ2 was no longer available for Nike to recreate the Retro versions thus having to recreate the shoe from scratch by using an original pair as an example. This is not the only time in which this scenario has taken place… the Nike Air Go LWP was another model – recently retro-ed – that was missing the original mold and had to be recreated by the team at Nike HQ for a Retro release.
Traction – While the traction on the Air Jordan I was superb, the Air Jordan II doesn’t look to have any true enhancements… if anything it looks like a step back. Since the most recent release I have available is from 2004, I will be using Sneaker Grip once again to help restore some of the rubbers flexibility.
There are very few areas that look to have thin enough grooves to provide a premium traction surface. Texture is abundant however, once that wears off who knows how well these will hold up while playing.
Cushion – A full length encapsulated Air Sole is in place just under foot. Back in 1987, this was awesome whereas today its pretty much expected with most Nike/ Jordan models. Back in ’87 the Air Jordan II featured a Polyurethane midsole which offered a much needed source of cushion compared to the AJ1. I’m not exactly sure if these actually have a Polyurethane midsole… I’ve heard they were changed to Phylon but I cant really tell. The midsole itself is pretty dense but not Polyurethane dense. Either way, these should be a huge upgrade from the encapsulated heel Air Sole and solid rubber midsole found on the first Air Jordan model.
Material – The upper consists of leather and thin rubber on the heel which wraps around the medial and lateral midfoot base. Since these are from 2004, the leather is very soft and creased within the first step. Flexibility shouldn’t be an issue however, durability and the leathers ability to retain its shape might be thrown out the window here as opposed to something release more recent.
The original version was made in Italy, something new for performance models back then… these and the newer versions are a far cry from that ‘premium’ standard of excellence which is again; to be expected.
Fit – The fit is true to size and they feel great when on foot. Collar lining and padding are great and I have zero complaints. Featured on the medial and lateral mid panels is a section of lizard embossed leather which is designed to draw the heel into the back of the shoe… I cant say it actually does its job but I haven’t felt anything that would suggest lockdown would be lacking at this point.
One thing I dislike is the forefoot being one solid piece of leather instead of being broken up into panels. This makes the forefoot’s flex a bit awkward. This isn’t horrible but its something I noticed.
Ventilation – There are some perforations featured on the tongue and around the forefoot’s leather panel. This is where the leathers ability to retain its shape throughout the course of a game will be tested as moisture buildup will soften up the leather which is already soft by today’s standards.
Support – These have a more sculpted midsole which adds a midfoot arch, its slight but its there and will help the wearer to not over flex their arch when in motion. While there is a rubber heel cage, its thin and may not offer much support… its worth noting since its there but could have used some reinforcement.
Overall, the Air Jordan II looks to be an overall upgrade from the Air Jordan I give or take a few things… those few things could be important though so I will be sure to update you with Performance Teasers throughout the coming weeks. I still have a few pairs to finish testing prior to bringing these on-court but taking care of the First Impression is the first step.