Many basketball stars have created their own shoe brands, but no one can compare to the legacy established by the original and arguably still the best: Jordan. The public saw the first release of Air Jordans in 1984, roughly 35 years ago. The fact that the shoes are still around is a testament to Michael Jordan’s name and the game he played. Throughout the history of the shoe brand, there have been well over 500 Air Jordans released, and that doesn’t include alternate variations. Out of all those hundreds of shoes, collectors and fans have their favorites; but we believe that there’s a handful few that stand out more than the others. One pair, in particular, is the Air Jordan VIII, and we’ll tell you why this high top model is one of Nike’s best.
Released during the 1992-1993 NBA season, the AJ VIII was special for many reasons. The shoe is aptly named because it is the eighth Air Jordan model ever released. This model was also retro-ed several times in 2003, 2007, 2008, 2013, and 2015 to 2017. If you like to wear Jordans for style, the VIII is significantly different style-wise compared to the other models. In fact, this is the only pair of Jordans that feature crossover straps. If that suits your style, then this pair works. The VIII comes with an all-black upper and splashes of color on the heel and outsoles. It’s classy and funky at the same time. Essentially, the AJ VIII has many of the visual components of the VII. There are minor adjustments and additions (including the straps), but looks are really where the similarities end.
These shoes actually didn’t sell very well. It could’ve been the straps, or it could’ve been something else. If you like to wear Jordans because you play basketball with them on, then you might find that the AJ VIII is heavier than normal. It’s actually the heaviest Air Jordans ever made. Michael Jordan didn’t seem to mind it when he wore this pair (more on this later), but it’s understandable if you don’t. If you can get past the added weight, you’ll find that the VIII actually gives some of the best ankle support you can get. The shoes feature a lockdown fit from the straps that keeps your feet stable and secure while running up and down the court.
When it comes to performance, the AJ VIII will deliver. The traction on the shoes is surprisingly topnotch. Again, it makes for excellent basketball shoes to actually play with. It’s also important to note that despite of the lack of traction patterns on the outsole, the shoes still grip like no other. It could be due completely to the outsole material. The upper is made of black leather that’s easy to break in. The shoe has a full-length inner air sole that adds a plush quality to it, but the inner boot also makes the shoes snugger in a good way. It uses polyurethane midsole that gives comfort like no other sneaker. It also has a polycarbonate shank plate. The combination of all the parts and materials used on the AJ VIII makes it such a solid pair of basketball shoes.
The AJ VIII is a great pair of shoes, but it’s more than just because of its make. This Jordans are historically known as the “Punisher.” That’s because it provides such an unbelievable level of ankle support and traction. We could say that in those terms, there are no other shoes like them, really. And history proves it.
The VIII’s were originally released in 1993. Throughout the history of basketball, the Chicago Bulls were the third team to win three consecutive NBA titles. We all know this. But what most people don’t know is that Jordan wore the AJ VIII to lead his team into winning the third straight championship in what would be the Bulls’ first three-peat. Jordan absolutely didn’t mind the weight of this pair of shoes. In fact, we can imagine that every single thought and design that went towards the production of these Jordans was probably geared towards the championship win. Jordan would retire suddenly that same year, but he would come back to win another three-peat, three more consecutive NBA championships—a feat that would never again be replicated by another team even to this day.
Jordan went on to be the first player to ever become finals MVP for three consecutive seasons. According to Flightclub.com, he also “scored his 20,000thpoint while locked in his seventh consecutive scoring title” while wearing the AJ VIII. There’s so much significant history with this Air Jordan model that it’s hard to look at it without some kind of reverence for the player that it represents.
So why is the Air Jordan VIII one of the best high top models? This article explicitly lists the many ways that the sneakers provide superior ankle support and incredible traction. It’s also unique in a number of ways including the crossover straps and the polyurethane midsole. It’s a great pair of shoes to play basketball in, and it’s definitely stylish enough to just be worn on the street—if that’s more your take. However, the main reason why the AJ VIII is one of the best high top models goes beyond its make and design. The history of the shoes and the stories that it tells about Michael Jordan himself is just spectacular. The shoes inspire greatness, and it’s something that everyone should feel when they put the shoes on.