Team Jordan shoes appeared back in the mid-90s. Jordan Brand was preparing to separate from Nike. MJ’s brand would remain under Nike’s umbrella, but it would become its own entity. This meant creating a fully-fledged product line. As part of this expansion, the idea of launching “team shoes” came up. Jordan Brand intended to offer more generally accessible, top-notch performance shoes that took inspiration from the year’s flagship model.
Jordan Brand finally spun off from Nike in 1997 and the Team Jordan concept wasn’t an immediate success. The concept was divisive: on one hand, some sneaker fans thought these shoes were just “knock-off Jordans” while others were glad to get their hands on a Jordan shoe at a reasonable price.
The first Team Jordan shoe to hit shelves in 1997 was the Jumpman Pro. It was worn on court by a young Kevin Garnett. While Garnett would end up signing with Jordan Brand’s parent company, Nike Inc., Jordan Brand would eventually sign a roster of young up and coming athletes to take the Jumpman into the future. The original five endorsees, known as Team Jordan, included Ray Allen and Vin Baker of the Milwaukee Bucks, Eddie Jones of the Los Angeles Lakers, Derek Anderson of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Michael Finley of the Dallas Mavericks.
Despite what you hear today, Team Jordans weren’t originally cheap imitations of the annual flagship; they featured great tech and materials, and were able to create their own identity while implementing some design features from the signature line.
Love them or hate them, here are our of the Top 10 Team Jordan shoes (in no particular order)
The Jumpman Pro was the original team model released in 1997. Rumor has it that these shoes were actually slated to be that year’s flagship model, but Michael Jordan himself wasn’t feeling the design and wanted a higher cut shoe. The Jordan Brand design team took Michael’s input to heart and the Air Jordan 12 was created.
These bad boys were released back in 1998. Eddie Jones was one of the first endorsers of the new Jordan Brand and received three signature sneakers. These were the Lakers guard’s second signature model with Team Jordan. Fun fact, Eddie Jones entered the league wearing number 25 and actually changed his jersey number in 1997 to 6, just before the launch of this model. Quick 6 sounds better than Quick 25 or Jordan Quick 23, which is their current official name.
This is Eddie Jones’s first signature shoe. The Jumpman Pro Quick was released alongside another Team Jordan shoe in 1998, the Jumpman Pro Strong. The Pro Quick was intended for lighter, shiftier, guard-style players while the Pro Strong was meant for bigger, post players. Both took design cues from the flagship Air Jordan 13.
Eddie Jones was fast, light, and explosive and the Pro Quick was a great shoe for his style of play. The Jumpman Pro Quick originally dropped with a full-grain leather upper, a Phylon midsole, herringbone traction, a carbon fiber shank, an articulated forefoot air unit, and a heel air unit. These shoes had enough responsiveness and court feel for a cat-like guard and enough impact protection for when that cat decided to leap and dunk over a formidable center.
The Jumpman Pro Quick’s sister shoe was assigned to Bucks and Sonics great Vin Baker. Vin Baker was one of the NBA’s original shooting big men, a four-time NBA All-Star, an Olympic gold medalist, and one of the OG Jordan Brand athletes.
Baker rocked a ton of cool Jordan team PEs. The Jumpman Pro 2 and the Jumpman Team 1 in particular, and received two signature shoes with Jordan Brand, the Pro Strong, and the Jordan VINdicate.
The Jumpman All Star or Jumpman Select was released during the 1999-2000 season, a year after MJ’s second retirement. The shoe was worn primarily by Eddie Jones during his only season with the Charlotte Hornets. This shoe could be considered a “performance ghost”: the shoe is actually an excellent on court performer, but received little or no attention. These days it’s even difficult to find information about them online. Even the name of the shoe is nebulous. In some places they are called the Jumpman All Star and in others the Jumpman Select.
The shoe originally featured a full-grain leather upper, a Phylon midsole with a forefoot Zoom Air unit, and an encapsulated air sole unit in the heel. Design elements were taken from the Air Jordan 15, which might not be obvious at first glance, but once observed it’s hard to stop seeing them.
The Jumpman Select was released alongside another classic, the Jumpman Swift 6, which Eddie Jones also wore. That shoe has gotten a bit more love over the years and has even been retroed recently.
Perhaps the Jumpman Select / All Star’s moment in the sun was when Michel was ramping up to return to professional basketball with the Washington Wizards. There is a series of classic teaser photos of Michael practicing in Wizards gear. Peep the shoes! That’s right, he’s got the Jumpman All Star on feet baby!
The Jumpman Team 1 is probably the most emblematic of all the Team Jordans. These guys were on the feet of most of the Bulls’ roster during the 1997-98 season. They just look amazing, if you’re into 90s shoes of course! Players such as Vin Baker, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Derek Anderson also got PEs of this shoe. Even a fresh-faced Vince Carter, during his UNC days, got a pair in an awesome Tar Heel colorway.
Now for some more modern Team Jordan shoes. The Jordan Superfly 2 was released back in 2013 and was basically Blake Griffin’s shoe, although not his signature model. Blake got a ton of PEs of this shoe and even got his own logo.
The Jordan Superfly 2 was a shoe that properly followed in the footsteps of the Team Jordan line offering great tech and awesome performance in a takedown model. Also, it had one of the funnier sneaker commercials ever seen. Extra points for that!
The Jordan Fly Lockdown wasn’t only a great performance sneaker, it marked a pivotal moment for Jordan Brand. For whatever reason, Jordan Brand had started to slip performance-wise leading up to 2017, especially with their non-flagship models. But the Jordan Fly Lockdown put its foot down and reminded consumers that Jordan Brand is all about performance
The Jordan Fly Lockdown was a budget model, but offered signature shoe performance. The shoe was quick, stable, and low-riding. It featured Zoom Air and injected Phylon, spiral and herringbone pattern traction that gripped the floor like crazy, and cheap-looking yet excellently performing synthetic materials. They also weren’t the most esthetically pleasing shoes, but there were a couple of really great colorways. The black and red version, in particular, was fire!
The Jumpman Hustle, released the same year as the Fly Lockdown, added to the feeling that Jordan Brand was really focusing on performance. The Jumpman Hustle was an excellent shoe: super comfortable, lightweight, and very affordable. The Jumpman Hustle repurposed tooling from another great takedown model, the Jordan 2×3 (specifically the traction).
The Jordan Super.Fly 2017 was almost a perfect shoe, and may in fact be a perfect shoe, depending on your taste. The traction, fit, materials, and support were superb. The cushioning was firm, so you really have to like that sort of set up to love this shoe. It also didn’t hurt that the shoe looked like an updated Jordan 11.
As the name indicates, the shoe dropped in 2017 and boasted a new cushioning system centered around React foam. There was a lot of hype surrounding this new foam and sneaker fans were eager to test it out. The two flagship basketball models that included React were the 2017 Hyperdunk and the Super.Fly.
React is a combination of polymers, thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), and Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA).React is denser and more durable than Nike’s Lunarlon and in its original iteration, offered a firm, low profile ride. So, as long as you weren’t looking for a plush, bouncy ride, the Jordan Super.Fly 2017 was very near perfect.
Blake Griffin was again the center of the marketing campaign for the Jordan Super.Fly 2017. We also saw other Jordan athletes like Victor Oladipo, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Joe Johnson get some sick PEs.