I never thought I’d admit this, but it’s been a banner year for Jordan Brand. A past 12 months that should add a seventh ring to the collection. So here we are, the number one Jordan hater saying the brand has done a good job this year. How’d we get here? Let’s take a look at this year.

My disdain for Jordan Brand is overstated at times—I don’t hate the sneakers. They’re just not for me. It’s the same as how a pair of suede Adidas might be for the guy who loves Air Jordan XIIIs—simple as that. I also used to think it was corny, seven or eight years ago, when people thought that if you preferred a New Balance 998 over a pair of Air Jordan IIIs that your opinions in sneakers didn’t matter. I’m glad things have changed.

This year has been big for Air Jordan purists, and that’s something I can appreciate. The Air Jordan IV came back in its “Black/Red” (we don’t do that Bred shit here) colorway. The Air Jordan VI dropped in the “Black/Infrared” colorway, and it had Nike Air on the back. Tomorrow the Air Jordan XI will hit stores in the “Playoff” version that Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls went 72-10 in.

It’s impressive that Jordan’s giving its diehard fans, and the general public, the chance to buy versions of the shoes that made Jordan’s footwear legacy. And the brand is doing it the right way. People often talk about the glory days of 10 or more years ago, but let’s be honest for a second. If you were into retro sneakers at that time, you were buying garbage. The Jordans weren’t true-to-form. The midsoles chipped and fell apart, and the majority of everything Nike made, that wasn’t an Air Force 1 or a super-limited Tier Zero model, was crap. Wale even rapped about competition cracking like the paint on Steve Nash’s Air Max 90s.

In the past few years the sneaker industry across the board—from Adidas, to New Balance, to Diadora, to Nike—has seen an increased focus on recreating sneakers from yesteryear that actually look like they did 20 or more years ago. And it’s been great. I’ve been able to get Adidas ZX shoes that look like they’re from 1989, and I couldn’t be happier. 

Too many shoes that came out wonky looking, due to the fact that brands were trying to make retros without the proper lasts or sourcing the same materials. It’s like trying to redraw a painting off memory, rather seeing the art in front of you.

Jordan Brand has remade its best-known models with accurate insoles, logos, and boxes. If I was into them, I’d be happy, which makes me believe its consumers are at the moment. 

The “Black Cement” Air Jordan IIIs from last year were really good, too. People were buying pairs by the boatload. It also looks like the Air Jordan 1 is coming back soon in its 1985 shape, as well as the Nike Air Ship—the shoe that Nike has lied about year after year saying that the Air Jordan 1 was the sneaker the NBA banned Jordan from wearing when it was actually the Ship. Now it’s coming back in the original “White/Red” colorway. I won’t be buying a pair, but there are people who have wanted them for years who have expressed interest in them. 

As the whole retro thing gets older and older, there are people who remember the wave of retro sneakers from the 2000s and want to make it better. They see the mistakes of the past (like releasing the Air Jordan VI with a Jumpman logo on the back) and are taking the time to make it right. Anyone should do that with their job really. Spend the extra effort to make sure everything’s correct. Don’t cut corners. It’s deeper than sneakers, but that’s another conversation. Jordan Brand hasn’t been doing that lately, and it’s something I can respect. Yada, yada, something, something Travis Scott’s sneakers were popular, too.

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