Pros: Great support, luxury lining, responsive cushioning, superb traction, awesome design elements
Cons: Takes a couple of wearings to break in, not for big guys
These shoes are more aptly known, especially the black/red colorway, as the "Last Shots" because these are the shoes Michael Jordan was wearing while hitting that famous 17-foot jump shot to beat the Utah Jazz in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals. It was supposed to be released the next year, in 1999, but MJ was trying them on to get the public to talk about them for publicity. This shoe is famous for that moment, but it is also one of the best-performing basketball shoes ever made, Air Jordan or not. It's richly-crafted and has the components to make it last for a long time.
As you slip the shoe on to your foot, you experience a sumptuous, luxury feeling as you feel soft suede swath your feet in comfort. The inner is a one-piece internal lining made of this suede for a seamless fit that allows absolutely no chafing. Just rubbing it with your hand, you can tell how beautifully constructed it is. The thick memory foam utilized in the heel provides great support and inversion protection for the ankle. As you move to the upper, it is made of a full-grain leather with EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) reinforcements that support your foot. Its melded (only on the black-based colorways and the newly-released white-black/red) with the same rich suede that wraps around the heel and rolls up at the toebox.
Along the forefoot are molded "shark teeth", two each on the medial and lateral sides of the shoe, in order to ensure the foot does not roll off the footbed and locks it down on excessively hard cuts. These do a great job during this task, but these elements complement the massive composite shank plate adorned with a large Jumpman that is placed in the midsole. It provides uncompromised support and prevents the foot from flexing in the arch area, something that if not prevented, can lead to plantar fasciitis, a painful medical condition. A solid internalized heel counter and nicely molded midsole also contribute to locked-down fit and great support. Made of Phylon, the midsole wraps around the edges. This wrapping firmly grips the heel, preventing your foot from sliding back and forth in the inner.
One of the coolest parts of this shoe is that it provides the ankle support of a mid-cut, yet it feels like you have the flexibility of a low on your foot. This is because of the unique aspect of an asymmetrical cut it utilizes. The medial side (inside) is cut higher than the lateral (outside) side. This design element gives the wearer the support and protection of a mid-cut with the comfort and increased mobility of a low.
A design element that I would have liked to see on more shoes is the medial side dye-cut venting system that allows your foot to breathe and is a great thing to have when playing marathon basketball games. The mesh screen is perfectly placed. However, on the OG, the vent is much more prominent and extends all the way through the shank plate. On this retro, the vent is only 1/3 of the way extended, which I don't understand at all. What's the point of the vent if not to fully vent the foot? I digress though, since Jordan Brand does occasionally change the retro releases.
The best thing of the shoe, which is saying something, is the heel and forefoot Zoom Air units that provide extreme responsiveness, protection, and feel for the court. For some reason, the Niketown description says a "Air-Sole unit in the heel" but I know that is wrong through the feel and touch of the shoe in the heel area. The Zoom Air units keep your foot bathed in perfect cushioning that is responsive to every cut you make. Combined with a EVA sockliner that employs high-density shock pads under the heel and forefoot to augment the heel and forefoot Zoom Air units, it's perfect cushioning for your foot.
A solid rubber outsole with a herringbone pattern provides great and able traction; it has a pivot point at the toe that has the Roman numerals XIV embossed in it. This is one of the most elegantly designed Air Jordans to memory and its design cues come from one of Jordan's favorite cars, the Ferrari 550 Maranello. You can tell in the tire-tread pattern of the outsole that wraps up toward the heel, the dye-cut venting system, and most noticeably, the Jordan shield logo placed on the ankle that looks exactly like the prancing horse Ferrari logo, save for the Jumpman logo instead. The logo comes with a plastic cover over it to prevent initial scratching of it. This was also the first Air Jordan to utilize metal-tipped laces with embossed Jumpmans; the retro continues this trend. You may think that is trivial, but I wish more shoes would do this since it prevents fraying laces. A plastic bar with the words Jordan on the outside and XIV on the inside stands atop the tongue and finally, a rubber piece attached to the heel that has the Jumpman and 23 printed on it, just to let your opponent know who just blew by them. Ok, so you or I am most definitely not MJ, but you get the point!
Many colorways (too many in my opinion) have come out for this shoe. White/forest, black/red, white-cinder/chutney, black/silver, black/university blue, white-black/red, and white-black/varsity red (more prominently black than the former colorway). Some others are coming out in the future as well. A women's black/pink colorway is out as well. In the box comes a retro card that appropriately, has the picture of Jordan shooting the final shot I described in the opening.
Well, to sum it all up, this is one of the top basketball shoes that you can buy, even after eight years. I am glad Jordan Brand released this one back to the public. Although the venting system could have been kept the same, everything else is and the shoe withstands a lot of punishment as well, being one of the most durable shoes as well. The durableness of the shoe is combined with an amazing lightweight feel to the shoe; it's just a great extension of your foot and never weighs me down. If you play any positions, other than a heavy center, you will love this shoe. Great support, luxury lining, responsive cushioning, superb traction, and the lore of this shoe make it a basketball shoe for the ages. If you can swallow the $150 price tag, it's the best money can buy.