The date is 9/23 and it's also #MJMonday, so there is literally no better time for a feature on the Air Jordan 9.
The Jordan 9 from 1994 is a somewhat underappreciated model considering its clean look and assortment of great colorways both original and new. And that's before you factor in its importance in the history of Jordan Brand, as well as Michael Jordan's career. The Jordan 9's unique place in sneaker history is that it was the first shoe of Jordan's line that he never wore during an NBA game. This is, of course, because he was off playing minor league baseball during his first retirement at the time of its release. By the time he returned to the NBA, the Air Jordan 10 was on his feet. (The Jordan 9 is ironically the model on the feet of the iconic Michael Jordan statue outside the Chicago Bulls' United Center.)
Fairly simple in design, especially when compared to the Air Jordan 8 that directly preceded it, the Jordan 9 includes special details inspired by Michael Jordan's international appeal and status by '94 as one of the most famous people on Earth. The concept is translated most literally by the Jumpman and globe design on the rubber heel patch. The international theme continues on the unique outsole, which features text from various languages including German, French, Japanese, and Swahili that translate to words inspired by Jordan like "intense" and "dedicated." Indeed, there's something for everybody to love about this oft-underrated Air Jordan, which we're here to highlight today in a few of our favorite colorways. See if you agree with our picks for the nine best Air Jordan 9s below.
We'll kick things off with the most iconic original colorway of the 9, this classic look in white, black, and red. If Jordan hadn't retired, this is the colorway you would have seen him wearing during the 1993-94 regular season. Even though MJ wasn't around to make them iconic on court, they managed the job on their own, anyway. But they did make one major public appearance on Jordan's feet: in the beloved film "Space Jam."
A second original colorway makes this list, the stealthy "Charcoal" edition. This is the equivalent to the standard black and red or "Bred" colorway of all classic models like the Jordan 1, 3, 4, etc., so you know it's good. Somehow, these beauties have only retroed once, in 2010.
The "Cool Grey" colorway has looked great on every Air Jordan model it's ever graced, and the Jordan 9 is certainly no exception. In contention for the best "Cool Grey" release along with the Air Jordan 11, the 9 features the same nubuck and patent leather construction. First released in 2002 (2012 version pictured here), it's one of the very first lifestyle colorways of the Jordan 9, and definitely still one of the best.
In 2010 through 2011, Jordan Brand released a special set of ultra-premium, super-limited editions of a few classic models including the Air Jordan 2, 5, 7, 9, and 13 dubbed the "Bin 23" collection. Arguably the best of the bunch was this beautiful rendition of the Jordan 9 featuring a premium white leather and brown nubuck upper with golden accents and the Bin 23's signature wax stamp on the left ankle. These are one of the most valuable and coveted Jordan 9s ever produced.
Another very special release of the silhouette is next, the Jordan 9's entry into the annual Freestyle Collection from Nike and Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland, Oregon. This design by patient Oswaldo Jimenez headlined the 2012 collection, and features a striking gold foil feather print across the black paneling of the upper, inspired by his nickname "Pollito," or "little chicken," which is also found written on each tongue. This was also the first Jordan 9 with a clear outsole.
In 1994 when Jordan was retired from basketball, Nike had to get creative with their marketing campaign for the Air Jordan 9. They dreamed up the "Johnny Kilroy" commercial, with the concept being that Jordan was actually still playing basketball in disguise. Watch it HERE if you're not familiar. (Upper Deck even made a Kilroy basketball card!) The "Johnny Kilroy" Jordan 9 released in a complete set of colorways inspired by Jordan's aliases in the commercial series, including Motorboat Jones, Bentley Crawfish, Slim Jenkins, and Calvin Bailey. The black, silver, and red Kilroy colorway is usually considered the very best, and we'd have to agree.
Sometimes simple is best. This super-clean black and white colorway released in celebration of NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles in 2018. The premium construction features a black nubuck base with white full-grain leather overlays and an milky clear outsole. Easily one of the most underrated Air Jordan 9s ever.
Inspired by a player exclusive colorway created for Kobe Bryant during his sneaker free agency season in 2002-03, this once-rare colorway coveted by Kobe Bryant and Air Jordan collectors saw the light of day when Jordan Brand decided to release them in 2016. Fans still didn't get an exact replica of the original PE, as Jordan's #23 replaced Kobe's 8 on each heel, but they were definitely close enough for every collector to be satisfied.
The '90s vibes are strong on this 2019 release of the Jordan 9, featuring multi-color, mismatched panels in high-quality leather and nubuck across the upper. A call-out to the original "Dream It, Do It" slogan from Jordan clothing graphics of 1994 is found on each tongue. Love it or hate it, this is an Air Jordan 9 you won't soon forget.