Michael Jordan Pushed His Designers To Make The Air Jordan 39 The Most Premium Ever

Michael Jordan just turned 61 years old in February, and his Air Jordan signature shoe line is about to turn 39. As MJ has aged since his retirement from basketball, his personal tastes have gotten more refined and simpler. He prefers the soft touch of premium-grade leathers, the fine stitching and intricate embroidery, and attention to detail commonly fine in hand-made goods. The Air Jordan 39 reflects that elevated taste on the outside, but the shoe is built for today’s multi-directional footwork-heavy player. With insight from Michael Jordan himself, the Air Jordan 39 lives up to the legacy.

According to Jordan Brand, Michael Jordan was heavily involved in the design of the 39 — more so than previous Air Jordan models. He sat with the design team to break down film of his unguardable signature cross-step move — an action that is used by athletes today. His insight informed the unique wear-test process that we will get into below.

Jordan also focused on what he personally wants to see in the shoes, and that was simply a focus on quality and premium materials. That was immediately evident holding the shoes in-hand; the soft leather is what you’d typically expect in dress shoes, while the embroidered pattern is unlike anything we’ve seen on the Air Jordan line. Immediate comparisons can be made to the pattern seen on the Jordan Zion 3; that pattern is indeed completely different, but the same data-approached design was used on the XXX9.

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Michael Jordan’s cross-step move served as a key point of inspiration for the Air Jordan 39. As part of the visual presentation, the Jordan design team showed us clips of not only MJ, but Jordan athletes such as Zion Williamson performing the same move in court. So, the design team sought to create a shoe engineered for this specific action, so they took a pair of Air Jordan XX9s (yes, the 29s), dipped it in paint, and had wear-test athletes perform the move with the shoes.

Air Jordan 39 Wear Test Paint Sample

The pair above is the exact pair used for the wear-test and was on display during the presentation. As you can see the exterior paint layer has worn off in specific zones; this pattern not only informed the zonal support areas of the upper, but combined with computational data from the Nike Sports Research Lab, also served as the root of the embroidered textile seen on the mesh of the Air Jordan 39.


Beginning with the XXX1 in 2016, each new Air Jordan is linked to its predecessor from thirty issues prior. The references to past models have gotten much more subtle and therefore a lot more clever as displayed by the 39th model. Inspired by Michael’s signature cross-step move and his ability to change directions at will, Jordan designers employed a “mirror image” concept with some of its details.

  • 1. The “23”, typically found on the heel of the Air Jordan 9 Retro, has been moved to the base of the lace collar and modified to appear like both 23 and 39. The directional arrows, which nod to Jordan’s ability to change directions, are the same triangles seen on the textured pattern on the upper.
  • 2. The midsole on the medial side features distinct lines inspired by the planet on heel of the Air Jordan 9.
  • 3. The soft rubber texture on the tongue features the blown-up version of the global emblem seen on the heel of the Air Jordan 9.
  • 4. Inspired by Michael Jordan’s ability to change directions at will, Jordan designers added a mirror image of MJ behind the tongue.

Air Jordan 39 Details


Nine different colorways of the Air Jordan 39 are planned to release beginning Fall 2024 into Spring/Summer 2025. Two of them were not allowed to be photographed due to the colors being a bit off from the retail version; the other is an upcoming collaboration that will be announced later this year. As you can tell in the gallery below, Jordan Brand opted for a much more refined assortment of colorways for the Air Jordan 39.

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SOL (Releasing July 23rd): This all-white minimal colorway pays homage to Michael Jordan’s game, which served as the blueprint for greatness. It celebrates the strong foundation laid by the man himself.

LUMIÈRE (Releasing August 6th): Often known as the City of Light, this black and white colorway is a nod to the Parisian lights and the city’s skyline at night.

UNIVERSITY: Paying homage to the MJ’s college days, this light blue colorway is a celebration of the goat and the alumni that came after him.

CROIX: With design cues drawn from the Air Jordan 9, this black and white colorway is inspired by MJ’s moves on the court and iconic cross-step.

BARON: While designed for peak performance on the court, this neutral tri-color colorway takes inspiration from MJ’s first love, paying tribute to his time at bat.

GUO PE: Guo Ailun’s player exclusive AJXXXIX brings back his signature seafoam green color as a symbol for luck and abundance.

HERITAGE: While honoring Michael Jordan’s legacy in Chicago, this iconic red colorway puts a fresh twist on a heritage color scheme.

STYLE: Inspired by MJ’s iconic 90’s style and his phenomenal collection of suits, this colorway embraces the idea that looking good equals feeling good.


Air Jordan have often ushered in a new wave of innovation in basketball footwear performance. For the Air Jordan XXX9, Jordan Brand delivers a unique package of full-length ZoomX Foam and a full-length Zoom Air unit. This is the first instance in Nike, Inc. history where a full-length ZoomX and Zoom Air are used in one system for basketball.

Air Jordan 39 Cushioning

The properties of ZoomX and Zoom Air are well documented; it is currently the chief cushion tech used on Nike’s leading footwear in the running category — namely the VaporFly and AlphaFly series.


Jordan athlete Paolo Banchero will debut the Air Jordan 39 during Game 1 of the Orlando/Cleveland series. See the shots of Banchero wearing the Air Jordan 39 in practice below.

Air Jordan 39 Paolo Banchero 1
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