In 1996, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls had just won their fourth NBA Championship. The following season, the Bulls would go onto win their fifth, edging ever closer to a second threepeat. On MJ’s feet, that year were the Air Jordan 12s, Tinker Hatfield’s “Rising Sun” inspired sneaker. The Air Jordan 12 had arguably some of Jordan’s most iconic moments in it too, cementing him as one of the greatest players in NBA history.
From the “Flu Game” to the famous “Frozen Moment” commercial, the Air Jordan 12 is one of the most important sneakers in Jordan history. WithThe Last Dance now over, we’ve been wondering just which were the greatest Air Jordans of all time. During Michael Jordan’s playing career, there were a few defining moments. Thankfully for us, a lot of those happened in the Chicago Bulls 1995-1997 run, and the Air Jordan 12.
We’ve rounded up 12 of the best Air Jordan 12 colourways for you to take a look. As one of the most iconic sneakers in the world, cutting this down to just 12 was a big ask. However, we think you’ll agree with what we’ve picked. Without further delay, let’s take a look at 12 of the best Jordan 12 colourways of all time.
Air Jordan XII “French Blue” (2004)
When Michael Jordan left the NBA in 2003, the sporting world had truly lost one of its greats. Having departed from the Chicago Bulls to join the Washington Wizards in 2001, a string of new colourway options now greeted Jordan Brand. Following his retirement, Jordan Brand began to experiment with various colourways on classic models. One of those was the Air Jordan 12 “French Blue.”
Taking the Jordan 12, the white tumbled leather base was accented by a French Blue stingray leather, similar to that found on the Washington Wizards. A blue Jumpman on the tongue, as well a chrome accent on the midsole. This was one of the first Air Jordan 12 colourways that didn’t use the Chicago Bulls colours and its a banger.
Air Jordan XII “Flu Game” (1997)
There are few sneakers more iconic than the Air Jordan 12 “Flu Game.” Throughout all of MJ’s career, he had rarely missed games. For the 1997 finals against the Utah Jazz, things had taken a turn. Now, the story differs on who you hear it from, but here are the facts. According to Jordan’s personal trainer, Tim Grover, he had contracted food poisoning from a pizza the night before.
““So we order a pizza, they come to deliver it, five guys come to deliver this pizza. And I’m just … I take the pizza, and I tell them, I said, ‘I got a bad feeling about this.’ I said, ‘I just got a bad feeling about this.’ Out of everybody in the room, he was the only one that ate. Nobody else. Then at 2 o’clock in the morning, I get a call to my room. I come to the room, he’s curled up, he’s curled up in the fetal position. We’re looking at him. We’re finding the team physician at that time. And immediately I said, ‘It’s food poisoning.’ Guaranteed. Not the flu.” Grover told ESPN.
Game five of the NBA finals saw a broken Michael Jordan put it all on the line for the game he loved. He was visibly sick, dehydrated and often short of breath. Though he may have started poorly in the first quarter, he would go on to lead the Bulls to victory. In Chicago’s 90-88 win, Jordan recorded an amazing 38 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 1 block. His points also included a 3-pointer with less than a minute left that led the Bulls to victory.
Air Jordan XII “Taxi” (1996)
After successfully leading the Bulls to a fourth NBA Championship, Michael Jordan needed a new signature sneaker. Following on from the widely successful Air Jordan 11 would be tough, especially considering some of the moments that MJ had in it. Tinker Hatfield went back to the drawing board and began to look towards the “Rising Sun” for inspiration. The “Taxi” Air Jordan 12 was the sneaker that emerged.
White leather panelling featured a rising sun like pattern, with stitch lines separating each section. A black stingray leather accent used a chrome panel on the side. Gold accents on the eyelets made for a unique Jordan, with the small yellow colouring on the sole inevitably helping to create the “Taxi” nickname. Since then, Taxi 12s have become one of the most iconic sneakers of all time, and for good reason.
OVO x Air Jordan XII (2016/2017)
Drake and Jordan Brand has had one of the most successful relationships in sneaker history. The Canadian rapper began working with Jordan back in 2014, mainly through exclusives and gifts for the OVO team. Whilst the OVO Air Jordan 10s may have been the first, the OVO Air Jordan 12s were definitely the stronger release.
Dropping in two colourways, white leather and black suede, the OVO Jordan 12s feature subtle branding throughout. The OVO owl emblem can be seen on the insole, with further OVO branding sitting underneath a translucent sole unit. Originally thought to be exclusives, the sneakers released in 2016 and 2017, quickly selling out. In fact, before the release, some guy paid over $100,000 for a pair. Think he regrets it now?
Air Jordan XII “Flint Grey” (2004)
With Michael Jordan’s career finishing in 2003, Jordan Brand was now given the freedom to create some brand new colourways. Having over 18 silhouettes to choose from gave the sneaker brand a lot of options. Thankfully, it decided to keep things classic, referencing older models like the Air Jordan 3 and Air Jordan 11. Of course, the Air Jordan 12 was also remixed, this time taking a simple tonal approach.
The “Flint Grey” Air Jordan 12s are proof that less is more. White leather is accented by flint grey stingray leather on the forefoot, with a grey sole unit and chrome logo on the midsole. A red Jumpman on the tongue, as well as the usual details, made these an instant hit when they dropped in 2004. The recent retro gave many sneakerheads the chance to cop, but it’s hard to beat the quality of an OG style Jordan.
Air Jordan XII “Gamma Blue” (2013)
New Air Jordan colourways can struggle to move out of the shadows of OGs. Yet somehow, that didn’t seem to happen with the “Gamma Blue” pack in 2013. Featuring the Air Jordan 1, Air Jordan 11 and Air Jordan 12, the “Gamma Blue” pack was one of the best releases of the year. Launching in quickstrike fashion, the Gamma Blue 12s were one of the best Jordan 12s to launch of the decade, and for good reason.
Featuring a black suede upper, the “Gamma Blue” accents across the forefoot, midsole and sole gave this shoe a real pop about it. Black detailing on the eyelets, as well as a red Jumpman on the tongue, kept things simple, allowing the eye-catching blue to pop. Since then, the Gamma Blue Jordan 12s have remained a grail for some. Even though this is a new Jordan 12 colourway, it still fetches a considerable amount on the resell market.
Air Jordan XII “Rising Sun” (2004)
This is one Air Jordan 12 that a lot of sneakerheads wish they could cop. White perforated leather is contrasted by black and red accents, giving the “Rising Sun” Air Jordan 12s a unique look. In fact, it was the first time that perforated leather had been used on a Jordan 12, making them one of the most sought after pairs of the late 2000s. However, there is also another story behind the “Rising Sun” 12s that still causes a lot of debate.
The “Rising Sun” Air Jordan 12s are a valuable lesson in sneaker history regarding cultural sensitivity. Although the Air Jordan 12 design inspiration features rising sun style panelling, the “Rising Sun” Jordan 12s were met with a lot of backlashes. The Japanese Rising Sun flag represents the Japanese military that was synonymous with the second world war. Having recognised this, Jordan Brand pushed the sneaker release back, much to the approval of many sneakerheads in Asia.
Air Jordan XII “UNC/Melo” (2004)
This is one of the few pairs of Air Jordan 12s that female sneakerheads had the opportunity to cop before men. Originally released as a women’s exclusive, the UNC colourway of the Air Jordan 12 became an instant classic. Featuring a white leather base, the sneaker used UNC blue accents on the sole, heel, sock liner and tongue. However, it didn’t take long for male sneakerheads, and Carmelo Anthony, to get jealous.
Made as a PE for Carmelo Anthony, the Air Jordan 12 “UNC” quickly gained a new name: the “UNC/Melo.” At the time, Anthony was playing for the Denver Nuggets, which meant these Jordan 12s went perfectly with his strip. After seeing the success Melo was having on the court in these Air Jordan 12s, Jordan Brand made them in men’s sizes soon after. Still, it’s hard not to want a pair of these, right?
Air Jordan XII “Cherry” (1997)
Originally launched in 1997, the Air Jordan 12 “White/Varsity Red” was on MJs feet for almost every away game of that season. One of MJs standout moments in the Varsity Red 12s came just four games into the season, where he dropped 50 points against the Miami Heat. That only helped them to become an instant winner with many sneakerheads in the late 90s.
White leather featured cherry red accents across the mudguard and forefoot, as well as on the sole. Chrome lace eyelets and a red Jumpman made up the majority of the top half, with red “Two” “Three” text running down the respective tongues. These are on pair of Chicago Bulls 12s that you definitely need to cop.
Air Jordan XII “Obsidian” (1997)
When the Air Jordan 12 originally released back in 1997, there were a few standout pairs. However, it was the “Obsidian” Jordan 12 that really caught the attention of many sneakerheads. Unlike the traditional bold inspired colourways, the Obsidian 12s took a much simpler approach. For one, they featured no direct Bulls link, meaning many sneakerheads who didn’t support the Bulls could cop a pair of Jordans.
Navy tumbled leather was contrasted by leather detailing on the forefoot and mudguard. A crisp white midsole and sole unit stretched up the heel, with a set of white laces finishing the 12s off. Of course, there was no way that Michael Jordan was ever going to wear these on court, but that didn’t stop them from becoming an instant classic. The shoe was fortunate to get a retro in 2012, leaving many sneakerheads happy to cop a pair.
Air Jordan XII “Playoffs” (1997)
Is this the greatest Air Jordan 12 of all time? Probably, but for very good reason. At the start of the 1996-1997 NBA Playoffs, Michael Jordan had stepped out wearing these black and white Jordans. The sneakers featured black tumbled leather, white leather detailing at the forefoot and mudguard and a white sole. Chrome lace eyelets at the top and a black Jumpman on the tongue made this monochromatic Jordans a hit. However, it was the moments in the Playoff 12s that made them great.
If there was one shoe that could single-handedly define the kind of player that Michael Jordan was, then it was the Playoff 12s. After dropping the first triple-double in NBA All-Star Game history, people knew that when MJ stepped out in these 12s, he meant business. Of course, when he got the game-winning point in Game 1 of the 1997 NBA Finals in these, it only added to the allure of the sneaker. The fist pump winning celebration is ingrained into the memory of any serious sneakerhead.
PSNY x Air Jordan XII (2015)
Public School New York (PSNY) had the opportunity to work with Jordan Brand in 2015 on the Air Jordan 12. As a fashion label deeply rooted in NYC sneaker culture, PSNY was an obvious choice for Jordan Brand to work with. Whilst many sneaker collaborations tend to use bold colours, PSNY took a different approach.
The premium take on the Air Jordan 12 featured a dark grey suede upper and minimal branding on the tongue. Carrying a high retail price of €300, they were by no means cheap, but they are a great pair of Jordan 12s. Although this may be one of the simplest Air Jordan 12 collaborations of all time, the PSNY x Air Jordan 12 is a serious piece of heat.
So guys, there you have it! That concludes our list of the best Air Jordan 12 colourways out there. Of all the Jordan 12 colourways we could have chosen from, we feel that we picked a rich and diverse list. If you’re looking to learn more about Jordans, or want to cop a new Jordan 12s, then head over to the KLEKT store now!