Before The Last Dance began airing, I had been playing in the Alpha I on amd off for the past year, and after watching The Last Dance, I felt more inclined to write a review after seeinG MJ tee it up with AJ I at MSG. This shoe is from 2008-2009 and despite its age, it’s held up amazingly well. If you don’t know what the Alpha I is, it is an AJ I updated with a synthetic upper and full length Zoom..or a protro if you want to use made up Mamba terms. How does a twelve year old shoe based on a thirty five year old design stack up versus new shoes and technology? Umm pretty much the same way Mj would if you inserted 85 mj into the NBA today. 🔥

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

Cons: Zoom could be Zoomier, rubber hardens due to age and stars smooth out making traction worse over time

Sizing Advice: true to size

Best for: any position

Weight

15.5 ounces or the exact same weight as the Harden V4. Man that sneaker technology has come a long way eh?


Traction

This pair of AJ have been put through the ringer as the rubber has hardened slightly over time and a lot of the stars have worn down. But even with age and wear these performed great on clean floors and just needed some wiping on dustier floors.

Luckily I have another pair sitting in the closet that are awesome and sticky. Get the traction right and I’m usually a happy camper.


Cushioning

FLZ, FML, FTW. Upgrade the cushioning on the Aj I and you go from 72 VW beetle to BMW in an instant. This Full Length Zoom sits below the standard strobel so the FLZ isn’t the bounciest thing around but it’s a clear upgrade over the original set up with good impact protection and feedback without being mushy or too firm.

This insole is paper thin so just swapping it out with any insole makes the step in comfort lots
better

JB of course has the Aj I fearless which is set up like the KD12 with zoom directly underfoot but I’m still waiting on better colorways before I reach out and buy a pair.


Fit

True to size. There is zero movement inside the shoe side to side and zero heel slip with the Alpha thanks to the high cut. Younger kids are probably leary of the high cut but the upper is flexible and doesn’t impede ankle mobility at all. Put your side way laces, minimal lacing, straps and dildo set ups away, they are all just different ways to do the same thing. 400 for auto lacing ? Does anyone know how to drive a stick shift anymore ? Kids in the next decade won’t even be able to tie shoes at this rate.


Materials

Synthetic leather upper is soft and durable. No pinching or hotspots. And it looks like a lot like leather but is definitely more durable


Support and stability

A high cut doesn’t really make it any more supportive since it is flexible and having the ankle feel nice and wrapped just gives my brain a little more sense of safety.

The outsole shape and design is pretty much identical to the original with a very flat design with no curvature which I feel safe in. Did I mention these feel low to the ground as well? No issues at all here


Containment

No issues here. That extra layer just keeps my foot in place even on hard cuts. Using mesh and whatever knit materials these days would result in my foot sliding off but since it’s stiffer and thicker (Twss) material it works.

Conclusion

A twelve year old shoe based on a thirty five year old design? “Performance” sneaker advocates who really think latest means greatest are 🍭 . I played a tournament in February in these with some guys I didn’t know at all. Most were wearing Kobe’s aj34’s KDs so when I showed up in these, I don’t think anyone took me seriously until I accounted for half the points and was keeping us competitive versus better teams (alas we lost in playoffs early). But in these twelve year old shoes, I had no issues at all other than some wiping thanks to a worn outsole and dirty middle school floor. Jordan Brand did a great job keeping the Aj I look while upgrading the cushioning. Sounds a lot like the Kobe Protro idea without the made up Protro moniker doesn’t it? The fact is, sneaker technology hasn’t come as far as marketing makes it sound and just a simple change in the cushioning makes a shoe feel “modern” even it is over a decade old. Every other aspect of the shoe is on par with modern shoes despite no major changes in design. And we all know materials change is more about profit than anything else.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think the Alpha I is the greatest shoe I’ve ever played in, but it isn’t far off and I wouldn’t hesitate to play in these again during a tournament either. Sometimes it’s just plain fun to pretend to be like Mike without pain of cushioning from 1985. And btw the Last Dance was the greatest and longest sneaker commercial I’ve ever seen.

16 Comment on “Air Jordan Alpha I Performance Analysis and Review

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