When it comes to Jordan models, the two most popular seem to be the III and the XI. With that being said, we present 20 reasons the Jordan III is simply the best. From MJ enjoying one of his finest seasons in 1988 in the 3s to the black/cement colorway arguably being the top Air Jordan ever produced, the III is simply an icon and its a perfect shoe on or off the court. Feel free to let us know in the comments section below if you also feel the Jordan 3 is the best sneaker of all time or list a reason why you think it’s the best that we didn’t highlight!
MJ put up some of his best numbers in them.
While sporting the Air Jordan III, His Airness averaged 35 ppg, was voted to his fourth straight All-Star game, where he took home the MVP award, AND won his second straight Slam Dunk title. Oh, and he also won the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, won the league scoring title AND was voted league MVP. Yeah, no big deal.
They're the best Doernbecher design ever.
The Air Jordan III design in 2010 with Doernbecher Charities is arguably the best Jordan collaboration ever. Not to mention being the first DB release to ever see a retro drop. And just three years after the original release. Guess you can never have too much of a good thing.
They Introduced the world to 'elephant' print.
One of the most iconic patterns to ever hit a pair of sneakers, the hits of elephant-skin-inspired ‘elephant’ print gave the III just a little bit of pop. It just pairs so perfectly with the clean design of the silo itself.
The Jordan III comes in some of the most beloved non-OG colorways.
FEAR pack, Oregon Ducks PE, Cool Grey, Doernbecher, Black Flip, Legends of Summer. The list of ridiculous non-OG colorways on the Air Jordan III is long and very impressive. Perhaps more so than any other sneaker in the Jordan signature line.
They introduced one of the most iconic advertising characters of all time: Mars Blackmon.
Along with MJ killing in the statistical department while wearing the III, Nike cooked up the Mars Blackmon campaign: one of the most iconic and memorable ad campaigns in the company’s history. And when you’re talking about Nike (and their legendary ad company, Wieden+Kennedy), that’s saying something. “It’s gotta be the shoes!”
It was the first Jordan release to sport a visible Air unit.
The Air technology was revolutionary; both for Nike and the sneaker world at large. And it’s inclusion in the Air Jordan III are part of what makes the sneaker such an icon.
It cemented the legend of Tinker Hatfield.
Sure, the legendary Tinker Hatfield already had a monumental design hit under his belt with the Air Max 87 (aka the Air Max 1). But, after being brought in to freshen up the direction of the signature line, the Air Jordan III was his first basketball sneaker. Not a bad start and a perfect example of why Tinker is the most significant sneaker designer of our era. Oh yeah, and shortly after the AM1 and the AJ III, he also gave us the Air Jordan IV AND the Air Max 90. Not too shabby.
They brought us the 'Fire Red' colorway.
Since the OG Air Jordan III hit, we’ve seen ‘Fire Red’ hue grace many Nike silhouettes, both Jordan Brand and non-JB. Obviously, the III is, in our opinion, the best version of it. But it does speak to how influential the tone – this colorway in particular – has been, not just to Jordan Brand, but to the sneaker world as a whole.
They have the best colorway of all time: Black/Cement.
Sure, that’s a bit subjective, and there are a lot of awesome Air Jordan IIIs out there. But we can say this without a hint of exaggeration: in our opinion, the Black/Cement Air Jordan III is the greatest basketball sneaker design of all time.
They were the debut sneaker for the Jumpman logo.
We love the iconic Jordan Wings logo that graced the Air Jordan I and II, but the Jumpman logo has become legendary. The Air Jordan III was the first Jordan silo to utilize the now globally recognized Jumpman.
The Jordan III 'True Blue' is one of the best non-Bulls colorways.
Sure, the Air Jordan I had plenty of OG colorways to choose from. But the Air Jordan III ‘True Blue’ was different. Not only was it one of the first really amazing non-Bulls colorways, but it’s highly anticipated retro releases show just how popular this OG colorway has gotten over the years.
They were the first Air Jordan to not sport the high-top look.
The first two Air Jordans in the signature line were high tops. But the Air Jordan III shook that extra few inches and sported the mid cut, and the results were nothing short of ground-breaking. Just look how many low and mid-cut hoops sneakers there are nowadays.
The box was, and still is, dope.
Yup. Even the box on the Air Jordan III is a thing of beauty. Featuring that iconic elephant print, people even collect the boxes nowadays!
The Jordan 3 even looks great when they're worn and beat up.
Sure, nobody’s gonna hate on a nice, crispy pair of IIIs. But the AJ III is just one of those sneakers that looks even better broken in. We’ve always kept a pair on deck as “beaters,” and they still look fantastic every time they get broken out.
They were among the first Air Jordans to get the retro treatment.
Of course, we’re all familiar with the Retro release phenomenon nowadays. But back in 1994, it was a pretty new concept. The Air Jordan III, along with the Jordan I and II, were the first AJ silhouettes to receive the retro treatment.
It's the perfect combination of form and function.
The Air Jordan III is the perfect example of the genius of Tinker Hatfield. With that visible Air unit, the eye-catching ‘elephant’ print and the beautiful tumbled leather upper, it is the embodiment of form and function. Obviously ideal for the basketball court, but perfect for everyday casual wear as well.
What could have (not) been.
After the AJ II and his second year in the league, MJ had tons of offers on the table to ditch Nike. And he was actually going to leave Nike until he caught a glimpse of what Tinker had up his sleeve with the Jordan III. “Phil Knight thinks I helped save Nike that day,” Hatfield has since said. “I don’t know if it’s true or not, but that’s his perception.” Well, we agree with Uncle Phil on that one.
They're the best looking hoops shoe with jeans.
While the Air Jordan I gives it a run for it’s money, in our humble opinion, no basketball sneaker looks nearly as good when paired with some fresh denim. Simply put, the Air Jordan III is art in motion. Just stay away from that #NTDenim.
As good as they look, their iconic images are even Better.
Not only has the III been credited with saving the Nike brand, and the marketing campaign is one of Nike’s most memorable, but so many of MJ’s most iconic moments happened while he was wearing the III. How many of us had one of these posters on our walls as kids?
The Retro '88 has the sneaker world fiending.
So, most of us have made our peace with the Jumpman logo, but let’s be real; seeing Nike Air on the back of the III just looks better. Which is why last year’s White/Cement Retro ’88 release was one of the year’s biggest. Now we’re just waiting for the Black/Cement pair to drop. Come on JB!