While most A-list Jordan releases cook out to medium rare, there’s a long list of juicy pairs that were near impossible to get. Call it hype, call it high demand, no matter how you slice it these drops were more wanted than made. In celebration of #MJ50, we bring back The 23 Rarest Air Jordan Releases. Get your camping gear and F5 key ready.
**Pairs are listed in order of release date**
Air Jordan 6 “Olympic”
Shoe: Air Jordan 6+ “Olympic”
Date: September 15th, 2000
Release Information: Limited quantity, new colorway, and Gold Medal nostalgia created the perfect storm for the Air Jordan 6 “Olympic” release. Worn in the Sydney Games by Ray Allen and Vin Baker, only 3,000 pairs were sold through Nike Towns and then NikeTown.com. This makeup proved the first Air Jordan 6 retro and the first time the model was seen in a non-OG colorway.
Air Jordan 1 Japanese Exclusive
Shoe: Air Jordan 1 Japanese Exclusive
Release Information: Early 2001 saw four Japanese-exclusive Air Jordan 1 retro releases. All packed practical colors, high top build and came in silver suitcases. These pairs were and still are incredibly hard to find.
Air Jordan 14 Mid White/Columbia Blue
Shoe: Air Jordan 14 Mid White/Columbia Blue
Date: October 8th, 2001
Release Information: Roughly two years after the White/Columbia low top release, a mid top PE pair hit Eastbay as an exclusive. Available in a handful of sizes, this makeup sold out online and never made it to print.
Air Jordan 12 “Nubuck” Pack
Shoe: Air Jordan 12 “Nubuck” Package
Date: November 28th, 2003
Release Information: Before popular retros were paired with other sneakers, they dropped with a matching outfit. The first exclusive of this kind was the Air Jordan 12 “Nubuck.” This colorway released online at Jumpman23.com in 2003 with a matching hoody and pinwheel fitted for a price of $200.
Air Jordan 13 “Altitude”
Shoe: Air Jordan 13 “Altitude”
Date: January 22nd, 2005
Release Information: 2005’s “Altitude” Jordan 13 release was kind of a big deal. Unlike the prior drops, this pair was limited to select Urban Accounts across the nation as well as Nike Towns. Demand was high and supply was low as campout culture climaxed for a non-OG, limited colorway.
Air Jordan 4 “Fire Red Laser”
Shoe: Air Jordan 4 “Laser” Package
Date: May 14th, 2005
Release Information: Much like the “Nubuck” 12s, this Air Jordan 4 came with a catch. A flexfit hat, t-shirt and $200 price tag were all bundled up with the comeback of the “Fire Reds.” Though all-over laser print and leather wings upset many OGs, the masses still flocked to Jumpman23.com for this ultra-limited release.
Air Jordan 4 “UNDFTD”
Shoe: Air Jordan 4
Date: June 23rd, 2005
Release Information: At only 72 pairs released by raffle and auction, the Air Jordan 4 “UNDFTD” may take the cake for rarest retro and rarest collab. The LA store played host to the raffle and charity pairs were auctioned online.
Air Jordan 11 DMP “Gold Eyelets” Air Jordan 11 DMP “Gold Eyelets” Gentry Humphrey with the Air Jordan 11 DMP “Gold Eyelets”
Shoe: Air Jordan 11 DMP
Date: January 28th, 2006
Release Information: Sometimes mistakes are bad, sometimes mistakes are awesome. Fans that received a pair of gold eyelet Air Jordan 11 DMPs got far from a B-grade, but more so a unique take on a classic. This factory slip-up was sample inspired and spawned an even rarer take on the hard to get DMP pack.
Air Jordan 4 “Lightning” Air Jordan 4 “Thunder”
Shoe: Air Jordan 4 “Thunder & Lightning”
Date: August 23rd, 2006
Release Information: Two shoes and two articles of clothing created a storm on the internet in 2006. Similar to the “Nubuck” and “Laser” releases, the “Thunder & Lightning” Pack was a Jumpman23.com exclusive and released with apparel. The black ?Thunder? pair was equipped with a jacket and cost $500 while the yellow “Lighting” pair came with a shirt for $250.
Air Jordan 1 “XQ”
Shoe: Air Jordan 1 XQ
Date: June 1st, 2007
Release Information: Years before “Year of the Rabbit” Jordans would send the globe into a frenzy, the Air Jordan 1 XQ released as a Chinese exclusive. 240 pairs proved not enough to satisfy a world of sneakerheads, let alone a nation of 1.3 billion.
Air Jordan XX3 “Titanium”
Shoe: Air Jordan XX3 “Titanium”
Date: January 25th, 2008
Release Information: Exclusive to the Top 23 Jordan Brand accounts in the US and a select few worldwide, the Air Jordan XX3 “Titanium” created the most demand for a new model since Michael’s Chicago days. The odds of landing one of the 1,058 pairs are about as high as MJ suiting up in a Bobcats uniform.
Air Jordan 8 “Ray Allen” Air Jordan 8 “Quentin Richardson”
Shoe: Air Jordan 8 PE
Date: February 18th, 2008
Release Information: Serving as a true quickstrike, both Sugar Ray and Q-Rich player exclusives dropped with out notice to the tune of roughly 24 pairs each. Both makeups marked the first retro PE releases and were exclusive to House of Hoops.
Air Jordan 1 “Levis”
Shoe: Levis x Air Jordan 1 “23/501” Pack
Date: March 2008
Release Information: The “23/501” pack saw the culmination of two contemporary classics. In March of 2008 packs were released worldwide with no official release date at Tier Zero accounts. Only 2,323 sets were produced.
Air Jordan 7 “Miro”
Shoe: Air Jordan 7 “Miro”
Date: July 2008
Release Information: Inspired by Joan Miro’s Woman and Bird sculpture, the Air Jordan 7 OC paid tribute to the late artist while connecting the theme of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. The US was shutout on this release as only 1,000 pairs were produced.
Air Jordan XX3 “Finale”
Shoe: Air Jordan XX3 “Finale”
Date: December 23rd, 2008
Release Information: The fitting, final installment to the numbered Air Jordan series came in a Chicago Bulls colorway. The “Finale” XX3 was reserved for the Top 23 Jordan Brand accounts in the US with 529 pairs releasing.
Air Jordan 2 “Eminem”
Shoe: Air Jordan 2 “Eminem”
Date: December 18th, 2008
Release Information: Online-only releases returned with the Air Jordan 2 “The Way I Am.” The Slim Shady collaboration paid homage to his song and book of the same title and was released via the Air Jordan Flight Club. 313 pairs dropped as a nod to Em?s hometown Detroit area code.
Air Jordan 1 White/Metallic Purple
Shoe: Air Jordan 1 White/Metallic Purple
Date: July 2009
Release Information: The Air Jordan 1 White/Grand Purple Metallic marked the return of an OG AJ1 colorway. Unfortunately for Stateside residents these were an international exclusive.
Air Jordan 2009 S23
Shoe: Air Jordan 2009 S23
Date: January 31st, 2009
Release Information: Released at only three House of Hoops locations and online through the Air Jordan Flight Club, the Air Jordan 2009 S23 was the most sought after of its mold. Fittingly, only 2009 pairs were produced.
Air Jordan 11 “Silver Anniversary” with Jumpman Air Jordan 11 “Silver Anniversary” with Jumpman
Shoe: Air Jordan 11 “Silver Anniversary”
Date: May 1st, 2010
Release Information: Though the “Silver Anniversary” Jordan 11s may not be the most favorited makeup, they did spawn one of the rarest releases of its kind. Mixed in the retail run were 25 pairs of Jumpman laden 11s complete with a commemorative, numbered patch.
Dave White x Air Jordan 1 “Wings for the Future”
Shoe: Air Jordan 1 “WINGS for the Future”
Date: February 17th, 2011
Release Information: Dave White and Jordan Brand teamed up for a rare and righteous take on the Air Jordan 1. 23 pairs were made and auctioned, raising $23,000 for the WINGS for the Future charity.
Air Jordan 2011 “Year of the Rabbit”
Shoe: Air Jordan 2011 “Year of the Rabbit”
Date: February 3rd, 2011
Release Information: Jordan Brand went back to the stores for the Air Jordan 2011 “Year of the Rabbit.” This limited release was distributed to Nike and House of Hoops locations.
Air Jordan 5 “Tokyo23”
Shoe: Air Jordan 5 “T23”
Date: April 2011
Release Information: For the first time since 2001 Japan was given a retro Jordan exclusive. This pair served as the kickoff to Jordan Tokyo23, the only place to get this limited drop.
Air Jordan 5 “Quai 54”
Shoe: Air Jordan 5 “Quai 54”
Date: June 20th, 2011
Release Information: Following a Japanese exclusive Jordan 5 came a EU release of the same limitations. Though thought to drop in the US, European Footlockers were the only source for this tourney inspired retro.