The Air Jordan 28 has been out for more than a year now debuting at last years NBA All-Star Game. With the recent reveal of the next Jordan signature model, the Air Jordan XX9, let’s have a look at how the Air Jordan 28 raised the bar of performance basketball.
When I first tried on the shoe, I immediately realized how much the outsole gripped the floor.Whether it was at the store, my room, indoor, or outdoor, the traction was perfect. The flawless traction is due to the aggressive outsole and pliant rubber. The rubber is not super flimsy, but not firm either. I was confident on every jump stop, cuts, stopping on a dime, pedaling back on defense, and of course the fast breaks. The last thing you want from a shoe is to give out on you when you’re going full speed and you lose your footing due to the shoe. Fear not, the traction is perfection. No need to swipe on every dead ball either. You can play a full game without worrying about dust build up as it won’t affect your game. It’s very rare to find a traction pattern this great as most shoes need a swipe or two to maintain grip.
For the first time since the 90’s, Jordan Brand has redesigned the Nike Zoom cushioning system and named it, unlocked zoom. Personally, I prefer Zoom over any other cushioning system in the market. Being a guard, I like to be low to the ground as much as possible and having Zoom, you get an extra bounce in your step. Unlocked Zoom is a little complicated to explain, but unlike most zoom units, the midsole is hallowed out and the zoom bag placed right under the foot. In addition, you have the new Flightplate system, which distributes the energy throughout the foot giving you more feedback and response. Playing with the new set-up does take a couple of hours to get used to as it gives you a higher off the ground as . it is pronounced but isn’t a problem. Once you get passed that initial break-in phase, you begin to feel the zoom on each step and drive. It was pretty wicked actually considering that I have played in zoom almost every time I stepped onto a court. I can go on and on about Unlocked Zoom, but I’ll just leave it at that. One more thing, there is a standard zoom unit bag in the heel which isn’t felt as much as the forefoot, but feels great. It isn’t mushy or stiff. The cushioning set-up is awesome and made me think on how else they could improve in the future.
The fit of the shoe is true to size for me, however some models use different uppers and I advise you to try them on prior to purchase. But if you can’t try them on, just stick with your true size. The lockdown is provided by the Dynamic Fit system that acts like fingers keeping your foot caged in. I was impressed on the each lace loop as it prevents the shoe from loosening up during play. I can’t explain it but it seems to have some sort of wax nubuck feel that allows no lace slippage at all (unlike the Lebron 11). Aside from the lacing system, the high-cut zip-up collar isn’t just there for show. The high collar provides additional compression and lockdown for the foot. A carbon fiber heel counter and internal heel cup holds the heel in place like a child in a car seat. However during play, I did notice my feet slip a little a few times, but that was probably my fault due to improper lacing. The shroud can be folded down so for those who don’t like the high collar feel, you are free to do as you please. I preferred the shroud down as it frees my ankles, but to each their own. Overall, the lockdown felt great and natural. The upper moved with my foot without a problem, as it wasn’t constrictive at all. My forefoot, midfoot, and heel was dialed in from the start. Who knew Jordan Brand could design such a beast of a shoe? Kudos. The fit is also true to size. Not too narrow and not too wide.
Two words: decoupled-heel. What is it exactly? Well most shoes are one solid outsole from heel to forefoot. A decouple-heel is where the shoe is separated into two individual parts that work together giving you a very smooth and natural transition. Keep in mind that the Flight Plate system is the frame and base of the shoe allowing the shoe to remain stable at all times. I thought the shoe felt solid, smooth, and most importantly, responsive from heel-to-toe. If I were playing a team that runs fast breaks all the time, I would choose the XX8. No wonder why they chose Russel Westbrook to be the face of this shoe (and XX9).
Overall support always comes from the lockdown and base structure. The Flighplate in this case is the main structure and frame of the shoe allowing optimal performance. My foot never failed to slip, traction is magnificent, and felt secure at all times. The Dynamic Fit and shroud helped keep my feet stable within the foot bed no matter what I did on the court. I did worry about the synthetic upper as it looked to be to flimsy, but thanks to the inner boot, it was never an issue.
Possibly the only issue that everyone seems to bring up about the XX8 is the popping Zoom units. If this review were done a year ago when it released, the score probably would be greater than an 8. But since then, countless images of the zoom units have “popped” up (no pun intended). It seems that Jordan Brand didn’t quite test out the long-term use of Unlocked Zoom. Don’t get me wrong, the cushion is A1 and no other brand has been able to produce such a responsive cushioning system. As for me, I have had no problems with my two pairs of 28’s. I’ve played at least 40 hours in one pair and 20 hours in the other and so far so good. Now the shoe does retail for $250 (you can purchase for cheaper at outlets) so I’ll leave that up to you.
Keep in mind that Nike does offer a two-year warranty on all their sneakers if you ever have an issue. So why does it pop? Is it the actual set-up of the shoe? Too much pressure inside the Zoom units? Are people too fat or do they just play too hard? I’m kidding. Nobody really knows, but if I could take a guess, it’s a combination of all of them. I am a lighter player so I’m pretty fortunate so far. Aside from the popping zoom bags, the shoe overall maintains its shape and takes a beating on court. I’ve had a few blemishes on my pair that I’m proud of actually. No rips, no tears, and definitely no popping Zoom bags. In other words, I’m happy with them. Materials are just fine. No complaints.
You got a full mesh inner boot that allows for much airflow, however you got a shroud that isn’t breathable at all. Like I said before, I keep my collar folded allowing more air to flow through my foot during games. Honestly, ventilation isn’t much of an issue, as it does not affect the performance of the shoe whatsoever. But if you want to know, the ventilation is good. Not great, but I didn’t stop during a game telling myself that I need to dry my feet. Quick Note: Ventilation is not weighted in the overall score of the shoe.
Who knew that Jordan Brand would go back to creating the best performance sneakers in the market? Not only do they continue to make retros on a monthly basis, but they are also focused on producing top of the line basketball performance products. After all these years, Michael Jordan is still heavily involved with the design process along with legendary designer Tinker Hatfield. By creating new and improved technologies like Flightplate and Unlocked Zoom, it goes without saying that Jordan Brand can still create “QUALITY INSPIRED PRODUCTS INSPIRED BY THE GREATEST PLAYER EVER”.
- Replace the Zoom Bag to prevent popping
- Breathability could be better
If you are looking to purchase, just do it. You get the latest and greatest tech in the basketball market with this shoe. The overall experience is new and fun to play in rewarding you with the best responsive feedback yet. If you can’t shell out $250, you can purchase the takedown AJ XX8 SE model. But if you want the full experience, get the original XX8 with the shroud. You won’t be disappointed.