Table of contents
The Air Jordan 8 was the last signature sneaker worn on-court by Michael Jordan before his first retirement from the NBA. Designed by Tinker Hatfield, it was the first Air Jordan to feature straps to provide more lockdown support. Initially released in 1993, only three colorways were available: a white-based Chicago Bulls home-themed pair, aka "Bugs Bunny," a black-based All-Star pair, aka "Aqua," and a black-based Chicago Bulls away-themed pair, aka "Playoff." MJ wore all three colorways en route to leading his Chicago Bulls to their first three-peat and becoming the first player to win three consecutive NBA Finals MVP awards.
Partnering again with Warner Bros., the Air Jordan 8 (VIII) transcended from the basketball court to pop culture with another Hare Jordan ad campaign spearheaded by Bugs Bunny and Marvin the Martian. Since its original release in 1993, the Air Jordan 8 has seen numerous retro runs over the past twenty years, beginning in 2003 and continuing to this day. With countless collaborations and retros, Jordan Brand has masterfully crafted a silhouette that has been able to stand the test of time. Given that there are so many options to choose from, follow along as we break down the best Air Jordan 8's of all time.
Images via Nike & Flightclub
Jordan Brand and Drake's OVO (October's Very Own) label created and released two limited edition colorways of the Air Jordan 8 Retro in February 2018. Both pairs come in solid white or black colorways with gold detailing, something commonly associated with Drake's design influence. The white-based pair, see above, is as clean as it gets. Featuring a white-based premium tumbled leather upper with perforations on the sides. Subtle hits of gold add elegance to this pair, alongside a red Jumpman logo on the tongue patch and the OVO owl printed on the insoles. Add in the limited availability and the hype of being a collaboration with one of the most prominent musicians of today, and you have a must-have sneaker.
TheAir Jordan 8 Retro White Aquawas the first women's exclusive colorway released. Dropping as an alternative version of the classicAJ 8 "Aqua,"this pairdebuted in 2007and had guys fighting for a pair just as hard as the ladies. Even better was that they released in extended sizing for the big footers, something that was not done when this colorwayre-released in 2019. Another plus to this pair is that it resembles one of Chris Paul's player exclusives from his time with the New Orleans Hornets.
In 2007, Foot Locker launched a new flagship store in Harlem, NY, called House of Hoops (HOH). This new retail concept was made in partnership with Nike, to shine a new light on basketball. This brought forth some of the best releases from Nike Basketball and Jordan Brand, which included limited drops of player exclusives and more. These HOH exclusives were highly sought after, especially in the beginning when House of Hoops locations were few and far between.
In 2008, House of Hoops in Harlem dropped a pair of Air Jordan 8 Retros for the locals, the Q-Rich edition. The Air Jordan 8 Retro Q-Rich is a player-exclusive colorway worn on court by Quentin Richardson during his time playing for the New York Knicks. Coming in Bugs Bunny-style color blocking, classic black and red has been replaced with royal blue and orange. The icing on the cake is the "Q 23" embroidered on the heels, signifying the PE detailing specific to Richardson. Limited to 24 pairs, this is one of the rarest Air Jordan 8 Retro releases to date.
For Valentine's Day 2018, Jordan Brand dropped a lovers-themed Air Jordan 8 Retro colorway. A women's exclusive, the Air Jordan 8 Retro Valentine's Day sports an All Red Everything design. Premium suedes cover the entire upper, adding luxury to this pair. The heart-shaped logo on the tongue patch, rose-printed insoles, and "Loves me... Loves me not..." printed on the inner straps tie all the love together. Its Red October-like design also made them highly appealing to the male gender, especially since extended sizes were not made for those with big feet.
During the Air Jordan 8 Retro run of 2017, Jordan Brand released the Air Jordan 8 Retro Take Flight. Considered initially an Undefeated collab due to its resemblance to the highly sought-after UNDFTD x Air Jordan 4 Retro, this pair has nothing to do with the Cali-based retailer. While not a collab, the resemblance is uncanny. Covered in sequoia green, black accents can be seen throughout, accented by small hits of orange to tie everything together. Looking like a pair that could've been a part of the Air Jordan Fear Pack from 2013, this pair was well-received and became one of the best non-OG colorways of the AJ 8 instantly.
The Air Jordan 8 Retro Doernbecher was a part of the Nike x Doernbecher Freestyle Series, released in 2014. This pair was designed by Caden Lampert, who suffers from Guillain-Barré syndrome, a life-threatening autoimmune disease. A lover of basketball, magic, music, and dirt bike racing, you can see his design inspiration throughout the entire sneaker. Covered in royal blue, paint splatter detailing glows in the dark, including his fingerprint on the ankle of the medial sides. Custom labeling can be seen via the Brave graffiti-like logo on the lateral ankle, snake on the left shoe tongue patch, Rock On featured on the holographic side panel, and the number 14 embroidered on the strap. An icy blue translucent outsole with more graphics underneath completes Caden's design.
The Air Jordan 8 Retro Ray Allen edition was released alongside the elusive Q-Rich pair, exclusively at HOH Harlem, in 2008. Limited to 24 pairs, this AJ 8 was worn on-court by Ray Allen during his time with the Boston Celtics en route to his first NBA championship. An "Away" edition, this pair sports a black-based nubuck upper with clover green accents. Allen's Sugar Ray nickname is found embroidered on the ankles, furthering the PE personalization. Everything about this pair is so good. That makes it one of the best Air Jordan 8 colorways ever.
The first colorway of the Air Jordan 8 ushered in a new look to the Air Jordan line by introducing criss-cross straps on the upper. Dubbed the Bugs Bunny edition, this Chicago Bulls home-themed colorway was famously worn by the Looney Tunes character in the Air Jordan 8 ad campaign in partnership with Warner Bros. and Nike. A perfect match to the Chicago Bulls uni's, the white-based leather upper is complemented perfectly by black, red, and grey accents. A testament to time, the Air Jordan 8 Retro Bugs Bunny has always been well-received with every re-release.
The Air Jordan 8 Retro Playoff holds a place in history, as it was worn by Michael Jordan when the Bulls won their third consecutive NBA championship in 1993. Its classic Chicago Bulls color scheme, covered in all-black, made this pair one of the best Air Jordans of all time. Initially released in 1993, it was retroed in 2007 and again in 2013. To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Air Jordan 8 in 2023, Jordan Brand brought back the coveted original Playoff colorway once more. This iteration is the closest to the original 1993 release, complete with the red back heel pull tab, an element that has been missed on all prior re-releases of the Air Jordan 8 Retro Playoff. To no one's surprise, the 2023 Air Jordan 8 Retro Playoff is one of the most popular Air Jordan releases of the year.
The Air Jordan 8 Retro Aqua is unique and a great colorway. For many years, Nike would design a special colorway of the Air Jordan to coincide with that year's NBA All-Star festivities. For NBA All-Star 1993, a black, bright concord, and aqua tone colorway of the Air Jordan 8 was released. It features a black-based nubuck upper, grey suede wrapped around the back heel, and the tongue and laces—Concord purple and aqua blue highlight this pair, complete with sparkle detailing on the midsole. The combination of black, grey, purple, and aqua made this pair one of the best colorways ever. This is one of the many reasons the Air Jordan 8 Retro Aqua is the best AJ 8 of all time.
White/Blue-Metallic Gold-Varsity Red
February 16, 2018
White/Varsity Red-Bright Concord-Aquatone
July 12, 2019
White/Blue Ribbon-Orange Flash
February 13, 2008
Gym Red/Ember Glow-Team Red
February 9, 2018
Sequoia/Black-Wolf Grey-Max Orange
January 28, 2017
Hyper Blue-Electro Orange-Black
November 23, 2014
February 13, 2008
White/Hyper Blue-True Red-Flint Grey
April 20, 2013
October 26, 2023
Black/Bright Concord-Aqua Tone
November 27, 2015