Michael Jordan vs. The World: 23 Pics of Iconic MJ Sneaker Matchups


In his playing days, you already know about the Jordan heat MJ laced up on the daily. But his opponents were no walkovers in the sneaker department as well. From Ewing to Kobe to even Ron Artest, we highlight 23 pics of classic Michael Jordan sneaker matchups that date all the way back to 1982 in his Tar Heels days. The most intriguing matchups are always those when MJ’s opponent has on a pair of Jordans, such as Kobe with the dope “Lakers” Jordan 8 PE or Kevin Garnett rocking the Jordan XI ‘Columbia’ as a young phenom fresh on the scene. But don’t take our word for it, check ’em out for yourself and feel free to let us know your favorite matchup in the comments section below.

Jordan III "True Blue" vs. Jordan 18

Year: 2003
Matchup: MJ vs. Kobe Bryant

The sneaker matchup between His Airness and Kobe in the 2003 NBA All-Star Game was an easy one to call. Jordan is rocking the XVIIIs, one of Jordan Brand’s least popular silhouettes, while Mamba is sporting one of their most beloved.

Reebok Question vs. Jordan XII White/Red

Year: 1997
Matchup: MJ vs. Allen Iverson

Allen Iverson racked up quite a few memorable highlights over the course of his legendary career. But the crossover on His Airness himself? That’s the stuff dreams are made of. Oh, and the shoes he was wearing while doing it, are some of our favorite Reeboks ever. While the picture matchup highlighted above is not from the actual ‘crossover’ game, both MJ and AI were rocking the XII and Question Mid, respectively.

Nike Air Penny 1 vs. Jordan 11 'Concord'

Year: 1996
Matchup: MJ vs. Penny Hardaway

After losing to Olajuwon and the Rockets in the 1995 NBA Finals, Penny again teamed up with a young Shaq and brought their Orlando Magic back to the Eastern Conference Finals again in 1996. And though they got swept in four games, they looked good doing it, as evidenced by Mr. Hardaway’s dope blacked-out Air Penny 1s.

Jordan Team One vs. Jordan 13

Year: 1998
Matchup: MJ vs. Ray Allen

What we love about Ray Ray is the variation of his game, both on the court and on his feet. Allen is of course known for his insane closet of Jordan Brand PEs, but he doesn’t always rock one-of-a-kind PEs, as you see with these awesome Jordan Team Ones. But even though we love the One, we just can’t ignore what’s on MJs feet…XIII for the win.

Nike Air Force Max CB vs. Jordan VIII "Playoffs"

Year: 1993
Matchup: MJ vs. Charles Barkley

Nowadays people know Chuck as that funny dude on TNT, but back in the day he was a baaaad man. Not only was he one of the best players in the world (again, in the era of Mike/Larry/Magic), but his sneaker game was nasty. We love these Air Force Max CBs he wore against MJ in the ’93 Finals. That being said, we gotta give it to MJ in the Playoff VIIIs…sorry Chuck.

Jordan VIII "Lakers" vs. Jordan 18

Year: 2003
Matchup: MJ vs. Kobe Bryant

Most people don’t remember that, after his deal with adidas came to an end, but before his current endorsement from Nike, Mamba was “a man without a country” as they say, and laced up some absolutely fantastic Jordan Brand PEs. These VIIIs are crazy.

Reebok Shaqnosis vs. Jordan XI 'Columbia'

Year: 1996
Matchup: MJ vs. Shaq

Young Shaq was phenomenon, plain and simple. And, as shown by his recent success in the Retro game, his signature Reeboks weren’t too bad either. He wore our favorite, the Reebok Shaqnosis, against MJ in the grail-heavy 1996 All-Star Game. Unfortunately for the Big Aristotle, MJ was wearing the Columbia XI. This isn’t even a contest.

Nike Air Flight Turbulence vs. Jordan 12 "Playoffs"

Year: 1996
Matchup: MJ vs. Gary Payton

Even without the legend of the Glove, Gary Payton’s sneaker game was on point. Look through his back catalog and you’ll see some of Nike’s greatest kind-of-but-not-really signature basketball shoes, like these Air Flight Turbulences he rocked in the ’96 Finals. Pitting them against the Playoff XII may be a tough matchup. But the nostalgia is too much for us. We’re giving it to GP in the upset.

Reebok Kamikaze II Mid vs. Jordan XI 'Concord'

Year: 1996
Matchup: MJ vs. Shawn Kemp

Another banger of an MJ footwear matchup from the ’96 NBA Finals was with none other than Shawn Kemp. Likely the best silo from Kemp’s signature line, the Kamikaze II is a dope shoe. But in this one, the competition is too much…Concords. Hands down.

Nike Air Ballistic Force vs. Jordan VIII

Year: 1994
Matchup: MJ vs. John Starks

They call it “The Dunk” and many ’90s era Knicks fans grew up with this poster on their walls. Though John Starks isn’t actually dunking on MJ himself (really more like dunking NEXT to him), even that was enough to resonate. People who watched that game, back in 1993, remember it vividly. Just hit up Youtube and you’ll see why. That being said, MJ still wins in the footwear department over Starks’ Air Ballistic Force.

Nike Legend High vs. Converse Pro Leather

Year: 1982
Matchup: MJ vs. Patrick Ewing

The rivalry between Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing was one of the greatest in the history of professional sports, not just basketball. Even going back to their college days, MJ and Ewing battled it out, not just on the court, but in the footwear department as well. We thought this 1982 picture was awesome. MJ in the UNC-themed Converse Pro Leather and Ewing in the Hoyas PE Nike Legend High. Awesome matchup, but we’re giving this one to MJ.

Converse Weapon "Lakers" vs. Jordan II

Year: 1987
Matchup: MJ vs. Magic Johnson

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and this one, from the 1987 NBA All-Star Game is a perfect example of that. Magic rocked an awesome Lakers-colored Converse Weapon, while MJ wore the under-appreciated white/red Air Jordan II. We love the AJ II, so we’re giving this one to Jordan.

Nike Air Pippen II vs. Jordan XI 'Cool Grey'

Year: 2002
Matchup: MJ vs. Scottie Pippen

Cool Grey XI vs. the Air Pippen II? That’s like Sophie’s Choice for a sneakerhead from the Jordan-era NBA. While we’d love to give Pippen the nod on this matchup from he and MJ’s first post-Bulls showdown in 2002, we just can’t. We love the ‘Cool Grey’ XI too much.

adidas Conductor Hi vs. Jordan I High Black/Red

Year: 1986
Matchup: MJ vs. Patrick Ewing

Continuing into their pro careers, MJ and Ewing continued to one-up each other, to everyone’s benefit. Particularly us sneakerheads. This matchup is a throw back from 1986, with MJ in the iconic Air Jordan I and Patrick in the adidas Conductor Hi. The Conductor is nice, but come on, you can’t bet against the black/red Is…you just can’t.

Converse Run N Slam vs. Jordan VIII

Year: 1993
Matchup: MJ vs. Kevin Johnson

Okay, the younger sneakerheads out there might not remember this, but back in the early 1990s, Converse had some dope signature NBA players. Not only did these endorsements bless us with the legend of Larry Johnson and “Grandmama,” but we got these fantastic Run N Slams for the Phoenix Suns’ Kevin Johnson (no relation). Another upset; we’re giving it to KJ.

Jordan XI 'Columbia' vs. Jordan XI 'Concord'

Year: 1996
Matchup: MJ vs. Kevin Garnett

Okay, so this may be the toughest one of all the matchups. But before the Big Ticket Kevin Garnett had his own endorsement deal(s), he threw down with MJ in his rookie season wearing the much-beloved “Columbia” Air Jordan XI head-to-head against His Airness’s Concords. We’re partial to the iconic Concords.

Jordan IX vs. Jordan 17

Year: 2002
Matchup: MJ vs. Ron Artest

This 2002 matchup is interesting, not only for the sneakers in the competition themselves, but the fact that it’s Artest staring Jordan down, as a Bull, in the Chicago colorway of MJ’s own Air Jordan IX. With MJ in the ‘Sport Royal’ Jordan XVII, we’re actually surprised this one is as close as it is, but despite how much we love the Air Jordan IX, we’re going to give it up for the XVII.

Ewing Baseline vs. Jordan VIII "Playoffs"

Year: 1993
Matchup: MJ vs. Patrick Ewing

After his initial years with adidas, Ewing proved ahead of his time in 1989, by becoming the first professional basketball player with his OWN sneaker company. Obviously, we’ve been seeing some fantastic retros in recent years, but we love this matchup from the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals. Ewing in a PE colorway of the Baseline silhouette, and MJ in the Playoff VIIIs.

Nike Zoom Flight V vs. Jordan 18

Year: 2003
Matchup: MJ vs. Jason Kidd

Another dude whose playing-day sneaker game is still very underrated, was Jason Kidd. In this 2003 showdown, Kidd went after Jordan in the fantastic Nike Zoom Flight V. Even though the Sport Royal colorway of the XVIII is our favorite, we think Kidd was the clear-cut winner in this one.

AND1 KG2 vs. Jordan 18 'Sport Royal'

Year: 2003
Matchup: MJ vs. Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett has had quite a few sneaker deals in his day. So looking back over his long career, it’s easy to forget a silo or two. In this showdown, from 2003’s NBA All Star Game (MJ’s final one), KG sported the AND1 KG2, while Jordan wore the Sport Royal XVIII. Though the KG II is one of the better AND1 silhouettes, we’re going to give the nod to MJ.

Air Max Uptempo 97 vs. Jordan 12

Year: 1997
Matchup: MJ vs. Bryon Russell

Bryon Russell has certainly been apart of a few important moments in Jordan’s legendary career. Though unlike “The Last Shot,” history will remember Russell a little more favorably than this matchup from 1997, known affectionately as the “Flu Game.” We all know the legend of MJ’s ridiculous flu-ridden performance, but don’t sleep on Russell’s dope Air Max Uptempos (now known as the Air Max Uptemo 97). As dope as Bryon Russell’s kicks are though, you can’t NOT go with the Flu Game XII.

Nike Zoom Flight vs. Jordan XI 'Columbia'

Year: 1996
Matchup: MJ vs. Jason Kidd

Though it may be tough to tell from the angle of this picture, JKidd laced up one of our favorite ’90s basketball sneakers in the 1996 All-Star Game; The Nike Zoom Flight 95. Originally just named the Zoom Flight, these are amazing basketball sneakers. Unfortunately for Kidd, in this matchup, he’s going up against Goliath, in the Columbia Air Jordan XI. Despite how much we love the Zoom Flight 95, we gotta go with MJ.

adidas KB8 vs. Jordan 13

Year: 1998
Matchup: MJ vs. Kobe Bryant

We love the adidas KB8. But we also love the white/red Air Jordan XIII. Which is what makes this matchup from 1998, so difficult to call. But really though, how can you ever go wrong with a clean pair of J’s…


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  • Bachatazo

    Orlando lost to SanAn in 95??? C’mon man, get your ish right, they lost to Houston…

    • Kicks Deals

      Thank you for catching our mistake. Edit has been made.

  • hwsusa

    Adidas Forum vs Air Jordan 1 BRED 1986. Jordan wore the forum in Olympic trials while deciding on shoe deal.


    Sorry but MJ Vs. Allen

  • ThePrufessa

    I don’t understand how you give the Flight Turbulence the win over the playoff XIIs. The Reebok Kamakaze are way colder than the Turbulence!

  • ThePrufessa

    The Pippen II was trash. Not even close to being a Sophie’s choice!

  • ThePrufessa

    Your choices are ridiculous! Through the Concords vs Columbias the Columbias should’ve been the ONLY winner! That was the true Sophie’s choice! The Columbias are still awaiting their retro return while the Concords have been retroed numerous times! Come on now be for real! I’m not done with the list yet but those two upsets you have so far are total nonsense!

  • ThePrufessa

    I’ll give you Kidd over the XVIIIs. No argument there. But I do love both pair of my XVIIIs. Black/blue and white/blue.


      Who are you talking to? Yourself?

      • ThePrufessa

        I’m commenting on the article. What are you talking about?! Ever heard of a community message board?!

      • ThePrufessa

        You do realize that everyone is entitled to leave comments in response to the article right? Well I was responding to the Kidd’s over the XVIIIs. They called the XVIIIs one of the least liked Jordan’s. So I said I LOVE both pairs of my XVIIIs.

        Is this your first time visiting a public message board where ANYBODY can leave any comment they want to?!


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