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Performance Teaser: Air Jordan I (1) Retro High Pt. 2


I can’t believe I actually played in a pair of Air Jordan I’s… more surprisingly; I played just as well as I do in the most technically advanced models currently available.

Before I dive into more info, I’d like to go back and reflect a bit more on the cushion which was covered in the previous Performance Teaser.

Last time I said I didn’t seem to mind the lack of cushion, this still stands true, however; my body is really feeling the effects of not having a suitable source of cushion & support. Every joint from the waist down is feeling strained and tired… especially my knees, ankles and feet. I could have easily swapped the insoles out with something that offers some impact protection along with a nice cushioned feeling under foot but I really want to try and keep things exactly – or as close to it as possible – how things were back in 1985.

There is a theory amongst fans, players and Sneakereads alike that it’s not the shoes that make the player but the player that makes the shoes. After playing in these I can 100% agree to that as it is a fact and no longer a theory, in my personal opinion. I will say this though; the advancements in sneaker technology allow players to have more comfort – which is obvious – but also allow some of these players to have a longer lifespan on the court.

Before you completely disagree with me just think about this for a second. If MJ had sneakers that featured the latest & greatest in cushion, construction and support throughout his entire career; don’t you think it’d be very possible he would have had a longer NBA career? He personally believes that the implementation of Carbon Fiber spring plates – which debuted on the AJXI – allowed him to play basketball for a greater length of time as they relieved a lot of strain from his knees and joints… something that I have been experiencing while wearing the AJ1 and may continue to experience until I reach the ‘newer’ models.

Of course this all varies from player to player; how well they maintain their bodies and how good the training staff is within the organization. However, I do strongly believe that the tech found in today’s sneakers helps… it may not allow you to ‘be like Mike’ but it will help minimize the wear and tear your body receives while on-court. Just some food for thought…

Sorry about that… came out much longer than intended. Now, back to the shoes…


Materials are far from what used to be placed on the Air Jordan models of the past. This is something that I used to dislike but I can see a point to it all as the leather used is more durable than 100% Full Grain leather. The damage that your shoes take on the court is noticeable but with the coating over the split leather used on the current models, it actually protects the leather a bit better from wear and tear. This doesn’t mean that I prefer this but the differences in appearance from the leather used here versus the leather placed along the upper of the Air Jordan 2012 is pretty significant.


The reason for this type of leather being used isn’t because its more durable, its far less expensive than actual Full Grain, but this is a give or take situation as it holds up a bit better. It will take a lot longer for any damage to get through the tough coating placed on top of the leather than it would in something of higher quality… the Air Jordan 2011 is another prime example as the Patina leather was soft and plush yet wore out rather quickly.


Ventilation in most Air Jordan models – within the Legacy Line – has always been fairly minimal. Same goes here with the Air Jordan 1. The toe features perforations which allow for some air flow along with the nylon tongue but it isn’t quite enough.


The fit starts to warp as your time on-court increases. Heat and moisture build up within the shoe causing the fit to loosen as time passed. I found myself having to tighten the laces after each game as the heat caused a bit of expansion of the materials. This is a common issue found in current sneakers so I won’t hold it against the AJ1 too much but is something to note.


Overall, the Air Jordan 1 has been a pleasant surprise. I went into this thinking I was a moron for even trying it… actually, I still think this is one of the dumbest things I’ve done on-court but it was by no means a horrible experience.

I’m happy I have completed playing in the AJ1 as I know things will only get better from here on out.

  1. This is by far the most heart throbbing, exciting, and awesome project anyone could take on. Thanks for doing this man, I missed out on the “golden” era of basketball/sneakers b/c I’m quite young, this is about as close as I get to the past as a shoe fanatic.

  2. yo – Insert The Alpha 1’s in before the 2’s give the knees a break. Should be a cool take since they are pretty close (I know they have Zoom and a diff midsole but the traction i beleive is similar – Give knee’s a chance)

  3. which 3 shoes you’ve played in the last year are the best for outdoor basketball?? im thinkin bout getting the kd 4s…

  4. Great review- can’t wait for the next one – I always enjoy ur videos so the transition from that to this seems natural

  5. lol its not dumb its no big deal playing in air jordans there are plenty of people who play in their casual sneakers because they forgot their shoes at home

  6. Hey so i was wondering, if you had to rate these shoes, ZK IV, Fly Wade 2, Zoom Huarache 2k4, ZKVI, which would you rate from best to worst? do you think its worth it to buy a DS zkiv for retail? my friend has a ds pair and he says if i want i can buy it from him for retail price, DS, my size. worth it?


  7. Hey nightwing,
    i have really bad problems with my achilles and need a new pair of shoes to hoop in, so i need shoes with good heel/achilles protection which would you recommend?

    1. it’s not as bad as it looks. playing in them the traction is surprisingly decent but not herringbone good

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