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The Air Jordan 2 marked the transformation of Michael Jordan's signature sneaker line into its own brand with a clear distinction from Nike. Designed by Peter Moore and Bruce Kilgore, the AJ 2 aimed to blend performance and fashion in making a shoe that could be worn both on and off court. Utilizing full length encapsulated Air for maximum cushioning and premium materials influenced by Italian dress shoes, the Air Jordan 2 stretched the boundaries of basketball shoe design.
The AJ 2 debuted in the OG "Chicago" colorway of white, red, and black, and was made with premium full-grain Italian leather and faux iguana skin. The AJ 2 was released during Michael Jordan's third year in the league. He averaged a career-high 37 points per game in 1986-87 NBA season en route to his first scoring title. Additionally, he won his first NBA Slam Dunk Contest, donning the Air Jordan 2. This solidified his position as the league's most exciting athlete and marketable rising talent.
While the Air Jordan 2's place in history is undeniable, the sneaker has been polarizing amongst sneakerheads. The AJ2's dress shoe shape and embossed iguana skin upper isn't for everyone. Regardless of where you stand, the Jordan 2 is an important part of sneaker history. Follow along as we break down the best Air Jordan 2's of all time.
Images via Nike & Flightclub
The Air Jordan 2 Retro Premio Bin23, released in 2010, is the first from the Air Jordan Bin23 Collection. Featuring a Dark Cinder leather upper, this retro utilized a premium material quality. The faux lizard design that covered each side panel made it truly unique. The AJ 2 Bin23 was one of the most exclusive AJ 2 releases ever, as it was limited to only 1,097 pairs. Its combination of a rich leather base and textured reptilian accents made it one of the best Jordan 2 colorways.
The Air Jordan 2 Retro White Varsity Red, last released in June 2014, is the other original colorway of the AJ 2. This pair features an all-white leather upper with varsity red embellishments, making it one of the best Jordan 2 colorways. With its premium leather construction and authentic color blocking, the AJ 2 White Varsity Red enabled supporters to wear Michael Jordan's second signature shoe in another iconic colorway.
Another name in our Top 10 list is the A Ma Maniere x Air Jordan 2 Retro. Released in June 2022 at a retail of $225, this pair was made in collaboration with retailer A Ma Maniere. Known for its high-quality material, this AJ 2 features a premium leather upper with cracked detailing throughout. This distressed design elevates the AMM x AJ 2 to new levels. A limited release, it was a must-cop for fans of the brands' collaborations. With its exquisite design, the A Ma Maniere x AJ 2 gave the iconic MJ retro an elegant upgrade.
The Air Jordan 2 Retro Alternate was released in February 2016 as part of the ongoing AJ 2 Retro line. This shoe featured one of the best Jordan 2 colorways, drawing inspiration from what a player-exclusive may have appeared like in 1987. The sneaker featured a black leather upper with red accents on the Wings logo, piping on the sides, eyelets, and heel tab, which resembled Michael Jordan's legendary Chicago Bulls colors. The AJ 2 Alternate offered fans a glimpse at an alternate history for MJ's sophomore signature shoe, executed with the precision of an exclusive OG player.
The Eminem x Air Jordan 2 Retro The Way I Am, released in December 2018, is one of the rarest in Jordan 2 history. Only 313 pairs were made available exclusively online in honor of the city of Detroit's area code, Eminem's home. The shoe featured a black, white, and red color scheme with light grey suede. Notes from his original writings accent this pair, tying it back to his autobiography. Each pair was packaged with a corresponding t-shirt, making it a highly coveted piece of pop culture memorabilia for sneaker and hip-hop lovers.
The Just Don x Air Jordan 2 Retro Beach was released on January 30, 2016, as part of a collaboration bundle with the Chicago-based brand headed by Don C. As one of the finest colorways in the history of the Jordan 2, the second Just Don x AJ 2 arrived with an exclusive t-shirt and leather cap. This limited edition release showcased Don C's local pride for Chicago through neutral color blocking on one of Michael Jordan's most slept-on silhouettes.
The Just Don x Air Jordan 2 Retro Bright Blue, released in January 2015, was the first collaboration between Jordan Brand and Don C. It featured a premium quilted blue leather upper, suede accents, and Just Don's signature symbol. This inaugural Just Don x AJ 2 exhibited Don C's ability to place a unique twist on already iconic silhouettes through daring color combinations. As a Jordan 2 collaborations pioneer, it established the standard for future Just Don collaborations.
The Air Jordan 2 Retro Doernbecher, released in November 2007, was the first Air Jordan designed in partnership with the OSHU Doernbecher Children's Hospital. Sheridan Brenton, age 15, designed the "Peacock" colorway consisting of black, pro gold, and lucky green, making it one of the most distinctive silhouettes in the history of the Jordan 2.
The June 2018 release of the Air Jordan 2 Retro Melo commemorated the 15th Anniversary of Carmelo Anthony's NBA debut by paying tribute to his player-exclusive colorway that saw a limited release in 2004. This high-top silhouette utilized the most common colors for Melo's tenure with the Denver Nuggets, including white, varsity maize, and university blue. Melo's logos replaced the traditional Jumpman details on the insoles for the 2018 pair, while Nike branding remained on the back heel.
The Air Jordan 2 Retro Chicago, ranking one on our Top 10 Air Jordan 2 list, is an iconic colorway that debuted in November 1986. It featured a white Italian leather exterior with red accents and a black midsole, directly influenced by Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls uniform. Considered the true OG of the Jordan 2 silhouettes, this high-top version employs the same premium leather construction and color patterning we've all grown to love. Due to its direct connection to Michael Jordan's early NBA dominance, the AJ 2 Retro Chicago remains one of the most coveted Jordans more than three decades after its release.
Are you ready to up your sneaker game? Check out our Air Jordan 2 Buyers Guide. Make sure to hit up our Jordan Release Calendar to learn about upcoming drops and exclusive raffles and get the latest news in the ever-changing world of shoes and streetwear. Follow us on Twitter and download the Mobile App for real-time updates and elevate your sneaker collection today!
April 10, 2010
WHITE/BLACK-VARSITY RED-CEMENT GREY
June 7, 2014
June 3, 2022
February 6, 2016
December 18, 2008
BEACH/METALLIC GOLD-UNIVERSITY RED
January 30, 2016
VARSITY ROYAL/METALLIC GOLD-UNIVERSITY RED
January 31, 2015
December 30, 2022