20 of the Worst Air Jordans Ever Made
We’re not breaking Jordan Brand’s balls here. We love you guys (we really do). We know that you can’t please everyone, but sometimes you can find yourself not pleasing anyone at all. Through all the beauty that’s been, there are some seriously ugly options that have somehow found their way onto shelves. Many of which we at the HOUSE OF HEAT office are still scratching our heads over. We know it must be hard to continually create and pump out hundreds of colorways each and every year — but with that amount of volume, there’s surely gotta be some bad ones. And boy, is there. Alas, we’ve revisited our 2018 list of the 20 of the Worst Air Jordans Ever Made and updated it to include releases up to 2020.
But before we start, let’s lay down a few ground rules:
1. Only Air Jordans 1-13 (you know, the “popular” ones)
2. Men’s/Women’s colorways only — otherwise the GS colorways would flood the list.
3. Original silhouettes only (no hybrids, non-OG lows, team Jordans, etc)
4. No Doernbecher’s. They’re kids, man. Leave ’em alone.
The rest is open for slaughter.
If you see one of your favorite sneakers here, please don’t take it personally. Like most things, taste is subjective. Now, without further adieu, let’s get into our 20 of the Worst Air Jordans Ever Made:
20. Air Jordan 10 “Lady Liberty”
Concepts like this can go one of two ways. It can reach an extreme level of notoriety like the Concepts Lobster Dunks, or it could fizzle out into nothing but a distant memory. These Statue of Liberty-inspired 10s more than fit the bill for the latter, ending up at outlets globally for insanely low prices only a short time after release.
19. Air Jordan 7 J2K “Filbert”
2012’s J2K Pack was kind of like Jekyll and Hyde. One colorway was faily decent, the other — well, you can see for yourself. This release, along with Steve Nash’s Nike Zoom BB II Low, had a connection to Nike’s “Trash Talk” program, which focuses on recycling waste materials into wearable sneakers, but all we got was a load of garbage.
18. Air Jordan 5 “Pro Stars”
This is literally a Gradeschool colorway that somehow made it to a full-size run. A simple solid black midsole would have made all the difference.
17. Air Jordan 10 “Wings”
Oh these things 🤦🏽♂️
2020’s All-Star Weekend in Chicago was stained by a transit system-inspired Air Jordan 10, complete with metallic silver guards that channel the trains, and colored piping to honor the city’s transit maps. Some inspirations are just not meant for sneakers, and the Chicago City subway is one of them.
16. Air Jordan 5 RA “Laser”
This is the kind of shit Jesse Pinkman would rock to a camper cookout. Nothing works on these. Nothing.
15. Air Jordan 7 “Ugly Sweater”
These had to make the list from its name alone.
A pair that featured in my list of most regretful pickups, the aptly named “Ugly Sweater” Air Jordan 7 is just that. Ugly. In fact, the T-shirt that inspired it is anything but. So how could something so lit, be recreated into something so… meh? I don’t know, but they managed to do it.
14. Air Jordan 6 “Beijing”
Another Gold Medal for Team USA at the Beijing Olympics — that’s no mean feat. But what do we get to celebrate it? A flimsy patent leather trainer that looks like it spilled out of the LEGO factory. The idea was to capture the colorful spirit of the Olympic games, but there are better, more tasteful ways to do it which definitely doesn’t include embroidered decal on the toecap — Trans Am style.
13. Air Jordan 1 High “Crater”
I applaud Nike, Inc. for directing their product into recyclable and sustainable materials. But is it too much to ask for something that looks good, too? Nike’s Space Hippie lineage is complete fire, but by looking at these, and the aforementioned Filberts, Jordan Brand just don’t seem to have it down pat.
12. Air Jordan 2 “Iron Purple”
There’s about 5 Air Jordan 2’s from 2014 alone that could have made this list, but we settled on the worst one.
11. Air Jordan 5 “What The”
At the time of publication, this pair had not yet even released, but we don’t need to see them in hand or on foot to realize that it’s a mess. Yes, we know, What The colorways are supposed to be a mess. There’s just something about the palettes of the four selected shoes that just don’t work — or perhaps we’re accustomed to seeing What The’s in the past present each panel of the upper with a different finish — maybe that makes all the difference. All I know is that they’ve butchered three classics (and one aforementioned stinker)
10. Air Jordan 11Lab4 — AKA “Gimp Suit” 4’s
Did anyone else think of CJ’s Gimp Suit from GTA San Andreas when they first saw these in 2015? I sure as hell did. And I still do. I suppose they would come in handy in a sex den, but apart from that, these should never be worn, seen, or even talked about ever again.
9. Air Jordan 1 “Shattered Backboard 3.0”
This has got to be the biggest let down in Air Jordan 1 history.
When word first broke of a Shattered Backboard 3.0 set to arrive in Bred blocking, people lost their minds. Mock-ups of a full-grain leather release fuelled the excitement for months, only to find out that these chicken grease and plastic-wrapped joints was what we were getting. And to make it worse, it came sitting atop a stale ASF sole unit. Yuck.
8. Air Jordan 5Lab3
It’s not often Jordan Brand can absolutely destroy a classic silhouette like the Air Jordan 3, but when they do, they make a complete and utter butchery of it. Reminiscent of the space-age adidas Kobe 2, these colorless, shapeless, smooth — and not to mention fully reflective — Jordans are just straight up hideous.
7. Air Jordan 11 Low IE “Volt”
The Low IE originally dropped alongside the OG 11. It never really picked up steam, but that hasn’t stopped Jordan Brand from unloading upwards of 30 or 40 colorways on us over the years. 2018’s “Neon Pack” was a mockery, this being the worst of the lot. The silhouette has since redeemed itself with both Space Jam and Black Cement options releasing in the proceeding years.
6. Air Jordan 4 “Ginger”
We know what they were trying to do here; ride the wave of Hender Scheme. But without that artisan touch, nor the fine materials, these joints came out as hideous as ever. With a peanut butter color on a plastic x PlayDoh like upper, it didn’t quite stick. The official images give these way too much justice, so we’ve attached an in-hand image too, just to show you how horrible these things are.
5. Air Jordan 3Lab5
Good design is meant to be polarising, but its also a trait that is often passed by bad design, too. The Jordan 3Lab5 is probably one of the wildest sneakers in Jordan Brand’s back catalogue, but that doesn’t mean it’s a winner. The iconic elephant print worked so well on the Jordan 3 because it was done in small, tastefull amounts. This sneaker really does seem to prove that too much of a good thing is bad for you.
4. Air Jordan 2 WMNS “Rivals”
And speaking of busy — WOWEE. The women’s Air Jordan 2 “Rivals” went to town on the color and materials for this NBA franchise mix-n-match. With satin, quite leather, jersey mesh, patent leather, and basketball textures all arriving in heavily saturated hues, what could go wrong? Everything. Everything could go wrong.
3. Air Jordan 3 “Wool”
These are so ugly I don’t even know where to start. So I won’t. Not even this beauty shot can save ’em.
2. Air Jordan 12 “Wool”
What’s worse than the woolen Air Jordan 3? The 12. From an ugly stale-brown, grainy wool that uncomfortably doesn’t’ match the mudguards. Just looking at it makes me nauseous.
1. J Balvin x Air Jordan 1
I’m so sorry, J. In a word of lazy collabs, this is definitely not one. It’s 100% you. It’s what a collaboration should be, and for that, I love it. But for everything else, I hate it. It’s flagrant in every way conceivable, an eyesore, and straight-up U-G-L-Y.