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First Impression: Air Jordan III (3) Retro


So far, the Air Jordan I is 100% playable and with a minor insole swap can be decently cushioned. The Air Jordan II was a very good performer so I’m curious as to what has been upgraded upon with the Air Jordan III.


Traction – It looks decent in most areas and less than desirable in others. My main area of concern in the pivot section… its large and smooth. The ribs within the pivot point are thick and don’t offer much flex at all.


The good news is that texture – Like the AJ2 – is plentiful throughout so most of the foots surface is covered with something.


The original Air Jordan III & early Retro models had stars for additional grip on the toe yet the 2011 version have enlarged these stars which should be good performance wise in order to avoid a potential slip while pushing off from the toe.


Cushion – A Polyurethane midsole houses two Air units; one in the heel and one in the forefoot. Last years Air Jordan III’s all varied on their midsole cushion… at least in my opinion. The White/ Cement, True Blue & Stealth (The only other IIIs I have from 2011) all have a firm midsole while the Black/ Cement have a softer midsole which is very prone to paint cracking. I’ve opted to go with the Black/ Cement colorway for two reasons; the midsole will be more comfortable & they were the last AJIII to release making them the most recent version released.


I assume everyone has the Air Jordan III Retro from 2011 so you already know what is inside the shoe due to the card they came with. Just in case you don’t have a pair, this is how the AJ3’s build looks like when taken apart.


Material – A full leather upper is used. The leather is soft… almost weak to a degree. Who knows how long this softer leather will last on court as opposed to the stiff leather used on the recently released White/ Cement IV.

I assume the toe and heel elephant print panels are for durability and protection of the main upper.


Fit – When being worn casually I chose to stick with my regular sz 9. After actually lacing these up as I would on-court, I probably could have a sz 8.5 for a more secure fit. If these end up not working out because of the fit, I have one pair of True Blues in a sz 8.5 I can use just to see if it makes a difference.


Ventilation – The perforations placed along the tongue, eye-stay and collar aren’t going to provide much of any air flow. While the perforations are there, they don’t look as if they even puncture the leather… in other words… the perforations are just for show at this point. This might be the pair where we see if today’s Retro products are suitable for on-court wear.


Support – The midsole is sculpted much more than the Air Jordan II so this is a definite upgrade. These also have the rubber heel tab which is similar to the AJ2 but doesn’t look as if it’ll provide as much support as the aforementioned model. I was dead wrong in this category when I wrote my First Impression on the AJ2 so there is a very good chance I’ll be wrong here as well.


Overall, looks as if the Air Jordan III is an upgrade in the cushion department. Other than that, we will just have to see how it goes. I will not be taking these on-court until next week due to other sneakers that need to be finished up but at least I have gotten the First Impression out of the way.

  1. Hi Nightwing, first of all, I’m a big fan!!!! Really appreciate what you do here.
    I’m Chinese and live in Australia and have been watching your videos for quite a while. Something came to me earlier that I want to spread your knowledge of sneakers into China.
    Since Youtube is banned in China. Nobody there would be able to watch what you do here. I wanted to crop your videos and post them on to a Chinese video sharing site, of course with your permission to do so.
    Simply, it is good fun watching your video and even great education to whoever what’s to learn.
    At current, I haven’t got much time to add a chinese subtitle to your video. But to see how it goes without subtitle, if it doesn’t work. i will definitely find time to do subtitle.
    What do you think? Are you ready to have your Chinese fans and haters?
    Good on you!

  2. Hey nightwing I was just wondering why you choose to swap insoles on some performance models and leave other insoles in on other shoes

    1. Some need it while others i can play without too much discomfort. Other times i need to swap just so i can wear them like w the crazy light… The frame kept pushing into my foot which made them impossible to wear.

      1. Which insole would you recommend for the 3s? I have several pairs and struggle to even walk round in them for a day as the sole is so hard. Would love to be able to wear them on court without discomfort. Thanks.

  3. i just saw the fly wade flight po that d wade wore against the pistons and because you liked the fly wade 2 i was wondering if you would review them when they come out the shoe overall looks the same to me other than the hyperfuse is replaced with flywire

  4. Now this I’m looking forward to. The AJ3 is the only J i have.

    Would you do short reviews on insoles next time? These have been part of performance as well, I remember reading that Ray Allen uses them. I have wide and flat foot and I am looking for the best insole to buy.

    1. Well they have stands with a heat activated pad to step on which helps you factor in what insole is recommended. I dont know if ill review insoles but its def a possibility.

  5. Wow you really are getting it done. I thought you are doing a review once every month and isn’t this the third this month already? Not complaining just impressed at your work. I balled in the Cement 4s, and the traction was pretty darn bad, maybe because it got dusty from walking all around the place. Oh well, happy Tuesday.

  6. Hi nightwing!! Its me again!!

    I saw a new fly wade 2 its called jordan fly wade 2 PO and jordan fly wade 2 d’reign. When are these going to be released??? 🙂

  7. Hey just a wierd question, but did they spray paint the midsole on the 2011 retros? Every time I open the box I get hit with these fumes. Makes me curious on what else JB is cutting corners on.

  8. for my hypothesis the 3s traction looks very bad so is the support of the shoe you can barely flex it looks very stiff

  9. I’ve played in JIIIs this season (late last year) when I actually forgot to bring my proper bball sneaks to one game. I love JIIIs and have a few pairs – as regular leisure/chilling shoes they are very comfortable and once broken in they just get better.

    On court though – different story. They don’t match up well with modern performance shoes. The most surprising thing was that they felt ok. I was pretty worried my foot would be slipping about inside, and while it did happen, not as much as I thought. I had to lace/tighten them up properly though, which felt weird – old school!

    Biggest problem was the big flat sole affecting the twisting of the foot, and that they slipped on both the inside and outside outsole heel when trying to change direction quickly. They might be ok for outdoor shoes, but there are plenty of cheaper trainers to trash out there.

  10. Hey nightwing
    I got a question. I bought a pair of size 9 2days ago. Its unauthorise one. It genuine but just unthorised.
    Wore them today for the whole day. Its a bit tight on my side, after a few hours its uncomfortable, cause my little toe is squashed up. I want to know if thats is normal? Do they slighty smaller fit? Will it stretch?
    I am a size 9 in most jordan, I owned a pair of true blue n it fit perfectly. I just don’t understand why black cement fit a bit tight?? Anyidea?

    1. did you ever get an answer?

      Wore them today for the whole day. Its a bit tight on my side, after a few hours its uncomfortable, cause my little toe is squashed up. I want to know if thats is normal? Do they slighty smaller fit? Will it stretch?
      I am a size 9 in most jordan, I owned a pair of true blue n it fit perfectly. I just don’t understand why black cement fit a bit tight?? Anyidea?

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