Is This the Most Underrated Air Jordan Ever?

Later this month, Nike is set to release the Air Jordan 14 Retro “Flint Grey”—a simple-looking, premium-built version of MJ’s 1998 signature sneaker. Constructed of suede and cashmere, with a gray rubber outsole and white foam midsole, it’s lush and understated nod to the fan-favorite “Cool Grey” Jordan 4 and Jordan 11. It’s one of the top Jordan retro releases of the year so far—a must-have by any measure.

And almost no one is talking about it.

Every retro Air Jordan model between 1 and 13 is a certified classic widely beloved by sneaker fans and collectors. With the exception of maybe the 2, 9, and 10, each generation has a dozen iterations that are considered all-timers, with colorways that sell out whenever they reappear and command huge price tags on the resale market. But for whatever reason, the Jordan 14 has never had that same level of innate sneakerhead hype—it’s not a hallmark fixture of the retro release calendar like the Jordan 1, 3, 5, or 11, and it’s not a rarer but still beloved favorite like the Jordan 2, 4, 6, 7, 12, and 13. There are sneaker fans who own 50 pairs of Jordan 1s and not one single pair of Jordan 14s. As a silhouette, it’s largely been forgotten.

This is especially strange when you consider the history. While it’s true that few Jordan models made after Michael Jordan’s second retirement have captured the imagination of sneaker collectors, the Jordan 14 was still worn by MJ during his heyday—in fact, Jordan debuted the Tinker Hatfield-designed sneaker during the 1998 NBA Playoffs, donning an early prototype of the shoe as the reigning champ Bulls defeated the ascendant Jazz to secure Jordan’s legacy forever. He was wearing the Jordan 14 when he made The Last Shot, arguably one of the most famous buckets in the history of the league. These were the Air Jordans in which Michael Jordan danced the last dance!

So why the lack of love? It may be that the Jordan 14 has a rather unusual style compared to some of its predecessors, with a slanted, angular build and streamlined silhouette that looks nothing like the elemental, carved-from-marble perfection of the original Jordan 1. Hatfield drew inspiration from MJ’s beloved Ferrari 550M for the distinctive look and feel of the exterior—leading ultimately to a Ferrari collab colorway that is one of the few well-known versions of the sneaker. While that certainly gives the sneaker a unique aesthetic, it might be off-putting to those who have a strict idea of what a timeless Air Jordan should be.

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