Since the Oxy XIV retro just came out I thought I’d finally write about my love for the XIV. These would still be in my top 5 if they were wearable but being 18 years old (yikes!!), I can’t trust them to hold up. Please note that this is a review of the original 1998 release not the crappy retros.  I tried the 2006 retros out and could tell they weren’t the same so I gave up on them and stuck to collecting and playing in only the originals. I have not tried any of the newer retros.   I’ve probably trashed about 10 pair.  I do not recommend buying them to play in due to the risk of watching them fall apart. I’ve had to Shoe Goo my current pair a few times. Shoo goo is awesome if you’ve never tried it. 



This is the shoe that made me realize all shoes are not made equal. I actually fell in love with the looks of the shoe because of how it performed on court and all the great memories I had playing in them. Just simple and clean. Of course everyone else’s memory is MJ’s last shot. Photo courtesy of Solecollector 


Pros: traction, perfect cushioning, fit, support and stability, containment

Cons: durabilityforefoot midsole “teeth”‘come apart after heavy wear, sole and upper at toe box separate over time, metal bar in tongue can be painful, tongue likes to slide off to the side, Ferrari shield needs break in on some pairs.

Sizing: true to size 

Best for: guards

Weight:


I never weighed these before and it weighs a whopping half ounce more than the Crazylight 2016. It doesn’t matter how much a shoe weighs if it feels like an extension of your foot. 

Traction: 

The late 90’s, early 2000’s were simpler times. Full length herringbone made out a soft pliable rubber that sticks to the floor like glue. Dirty floor ? No problem. If you like to hear squeaky traction, these are for you. 


They could extend the herringbone up and around the forefoot like they do nowadays but not need really. 

So simple yet effective. Just plain awesome. 

Cushioning

Want to feel what Zoom is supposed to feel like and why it is so addictive ? Try the OG XIV. Low to the ground yet springy and responsive.

These actually have articulated forefoot Zoom like the Super Fly 4 and covers almost the full width of the forefoot. No tiny Met Bag like the Kobe V/VI. Picture courtesy of Weartesters


The heel features Zoom as well and back then, Zoom bags were big, not the quarter size things we see today. Notice the heel cut out? Very similar idea to the Kobe IV V VI “Y heel”. 


Insoles these days are usually just a piece of Ortholite or thin cheap foam but these XIV (2006 retros included) feature these heel and forefoot inserts that feel almost like Adiprene. This gives the wearer a little more cushioning and step in comfort. 


The end result is cushioning perfection. Responsive yet protective. If cushioning is a drug, this is the crack that got me hooked on Zoom. 
Fit:

Back then, I wore a 10.5 but my feet have flattened out and lengthened in the past eighteen years so now I need an 11. However I can still wear the 10.5 but don’t have the toe box space I like. 

I know I sound like a broken record but back in the 90’s, Jordans were really wear tested a lot so the fit on the XIV is like a glove. No straps or gimmicks, just an effective lacing system that kept your foot in.


There is zero heel slip with a 3/4 mid cut
The memory foam in the ankle collar is the perfect amount.

Just feels like true extension of the foot. Man I miss these.  Maybe I’ll get the newer retros. 
Support and stability 

The AJ XIV features an assymetrical collar which allows freedom on movement on cuts but support on ankle ankle inversions. The higher medial side “slows the roll” if you turn your ankle. 

Tons of real carbon fiber.. So sexy

Of course the base of the shoe is flat and stable with no tippiness. 

Once again, simple yet effective use of design and technology. 

Containment 

Upon examining the XIV, Jordan Brand was way ahead of its time and is still designed better than a lot of shoes today that feature mesh or knit uppers **cough, melo m12, JC2, JC3, AJ XX9, Soldier X**

Almost the entire shoe features an extended midsole to keep the foot in place on cuts. Some of the extension was removed to allow more flexibility .


I have probably reglued the forefoot “teeth” about five times on this pair. 

Regardless of durability, containment is excellent. 

Flaws:

No actual performance flaws with the XIV but some irritants. 

  1. Metal bar across the top of the tongue can jam into your ankle and be painful. Only certain pairs of mine did this. 
  2. Tongue doesn’t sit straight up on some pairs and usually slides to a side
  3. The Ferrari Jordan shield is another hard spot but softens with time. 
  4. Toe box and sole can separate but that’s due to the age of the shoe and use of leather. Shoe goo to the rescue!


Conclusion 

In shoe collectors’ eyes, the AJ XIV is not a holy grail. Sure MJ hit one of his most famous shots in them but he only wore the Last Shots in the playoffs. Sales were lackluster since MJ retired and never wore these on court the next season. However, from a performance perspective, these were and still are the BEST PERFORMING AIR JORDAN OF ALL TIME. the AJ XI, XII, and XIII a get a lot of love and rightfully so but the XIV is just flawless from top to bottom (don’t get me started on anything post XIV because they all have their flaws especially XV to XVIII).  These would still be in my top 5 rotation if they would hold up. Maybe I’ll try a newer retro pair for fun..  



34 Comment on “My top 5: Air Jordan XIV Original 1998 Performance Review

  1. Pingback: My Current Top Ten | schwollo.com

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