It’s been a while since a performance review was done on Collectivekicks (last one was the Brandblack JCrossover 2), but with so many highly rated performance sneakers out, I believe there is no better time than now to restart our performance reviews. Just so you know, I’ll be doing two more performance reviews by the end of the 2016, and will also have a “Best of the Best” comparison article on the three performance sneakers. First up, the Air Jordan 31.
Weight: 190 Pounds
Basketball Experience: 4 years of high school basketball, 20+ years overall
Basketball Play Style: point guard, more quick than fast, average explosiveness, aggressive defender
Shoe Size: length of a 9, width of a 10, usually compromises at 9.5 for best fit
Current Basketball Shoe: Air Jordan 31 (Size 9.5)
Previous Basketball Shoe: Brandblack J Crossover 3 (Size 9.5), adidas D Lillard 2 (Size 9)
Collective Kicks Rating System:
*Here at Collectivekicks we will be utilizing a 1-5 scale, 1 being the worst and 5 being the best. I will be using a theme for the rating scale on each performance review, and this edition’s rating theme will be none other than the heroes from Dragonball!
-Jordan 31 Translucent Traction Pattern-
I play on a pretty well-maintained indoor floor and the traction on the Jordan 31 can best be described as HIGHLY INCONSISTENT. Before my first run, while stationary, I stepped hard one foot at a time to test the bite and squeak of the traction and was amazed how hard the bite and how loud the squeak was. I thought to myself, “alright these are going to work great on this floor”. Boy was I wrong. I can clearly remember the first time I slipped and almost fell on my behind. It was on a simple chest pass that I was stepping into. I was dribbling left near the top of the key and with my right foot stepped into a chest pass and my right foot completely gave out and I slipped hard enough to where my entire right foot came off the ground.
There were other times where the bite on the traction was incredible and then there were other times where I would slip badly like the instance I mentioned before. As a hooper, this gives you no confidence to give 110% on the floor if you have no I idea when the traction is going to perform and when it will not. It was actually weighing on my mind as I was playing, and I’ve never experienced that with any shoe EVER. The only reason I’m giving it a 2 is due to the moments where the traction was phenomenal. It just nearly wasn’t often or consistent enough.
I do think these will work for people who don’t have a lot of cutting and quick lateral movements in their game. If your mostly a most post up guy and your movement on the court is pretty straight up and down the traction on the 31 should suffice. I felt like anytime I could plant the traction completely flat onto the floor my traction was pretty good. The times the traction didn’t work, I believe were mostly times when my feet weren’t flat to the floor. I can’t tell you why, but that’s how I felt during my time in the 31s. Most likely it’s a combination of the rubber compound, the flat traction pattern, and I think the protruding areas of zoom are where the problems lie. But yeah, personally? These will not be staying in my bag mainly due to the traction issues I experienced. Which is the real shame, because the rest of the shoe…
-Protruding Full-Length Zoom Unit
Oh full-length zoom I can actually feel, how much I have missed thee. For me personally, you can’t beat properly implemented zoom. The combination of impact protection, bounce, and responsiveness is unmatched in my personal experience. (I have yet to try boost on court, I will be soon though) Jordan Brand was able to keep you low to ground with the 31, giving you an ample amount of court feel to go along with the cushy full-length zoom. It really is heavenly.
I know some have complained about the protruding zoom areas in the forefoot and heel, and while I can feel it, I never felt it to the point where it bothered me or was weighing on my mind like the mediocre traction was. It was very subtle and pretty much a non-issue to me.
This is zoom done right, it really is the perfect balance the way it was used in the Air Jordan 31. If I could build a dream basketball shoe, this would its cushion setup without a shadow of a doubt.
-Neoprene Booty & Anatomically Placed Achilles Pillows-
Wide-footers, rejoice. This is the sneaker for us, at least from a comfort standpoint. The 31s have a surprisingly squarish toebox, much like the Jordan 18 (Tate Kuerbis designed both). Not only is the toe box roomy, but the midfoot portion of the sneakers also allows wide footers like myself enough space to where it didn’t feel like my feet were suffocating in that area (a la the KD 9, which I wanted to do a performance review but my feet wouldn’t let me). The woven-upper strikes a real nice balance between being pliable without stretching out and having the fit become sloppy. The woven upper on the 31 is nice and thick, giving it some much needed rigidity and durability without sacrificing comfort.
A lot of people complained about the heel are of the 31 being a little uncomfortable by causing a little friction between the heel and inner neoprene booty. Being a wide-footer, I tend not to lace my laces super-tight and that might be the reason why the my heel and the back section of the neoprene booty didn’t rub against each other as much as somebody who ties their shoes super tight leaving no room in the heel. I also found the anatomically placed pillow cushions in the heel to be pretty comfortable. I initially thought they weren’t going to feel very natural just based on the way it looked, but it worked out perfectly for me. No complaints whatsoever from a comfort standpoint. The 31s also come equipped with a standard tongue, YESSS. Nothing against one booty setups, but I personally prefer a free moving tongue (standard or half booty setup) in my basketball shoe. It’s just a more versatile setup in my opinion.
Comfort was A1 on the Air Jordan 31, definitely the standout feature along with the cushion.
-Roomy & Comfortable Fly Weave Upper-
Support/Fit: 4 (Great)
You’re obviously not going to get the most supportive shoe with a woven upper, that’s a given. I’m not the most explosive player out there, so I personally didn’t experience any support or containment issues with the Air Jordan 31. However for really shifty and explosive players, I can see the Jordan 31’s lack of support and containment being an issue. A lot of other shoes with woven uppers offer more strategically placed fuse, synthetics, and even midsoles that come up on the upper to aid in support and containment. From that standpoint, the Jordan 31 probably is a step down, although it does offer a synthetic leather heel for better support where it is needed.
The fit on the shoe is pretty good too. They fit super comfortable and true to size in my honest opinion. I will say this though even as a wide-footer, I felt like the fit could have been a little better. While amazingly comfortable, they didn’t really have a true 1-1 feel like a lot of basketball sneakers have nowadays. Let’s just say the upper really didn’t feel like it was conforming to my foot as well as I originally thought it would. If I were to make an analogy, the Air Jordan 31 fits like basketball jerseys did in the early 2000’s, while other recent high performing basketball sneakers with similar woven uppers fit more close to the body like basketball jerseys do today. The Jordan 31 has a “baggier” fit, (like MJ’s jeans lol) I feel like they could have been a little more “skinny”. It worked pretty well for me though.
-The Air Jordan 31-
Overall: 3 (Decent)
The traction really does ruin the overall experience unfortunately. If you don’t have the confidence to move the way you want to and have unpredictable moments of possibly dangerous slipping, no matter how good the other features of the shoe are, they aren’t playable. Again, it’s the first time I was actually scared to play in a basketball shoe. That shouldn’t happen and Jordan Brand should know that beforehand through their weartesting process.
It’s extremely frustrating and disappointing when considering how amazing the rest of the shoe is, especially for a wide footer like myself. The Jordan 31 really is almost the perfect the basketball shoe for a wide footer. Jordan Brand in my honest opinion had a golden opportunity slip right through their fingers; or in this case, right through their traction.