Jordan 12 Playoffs: The Hyped Sleeper?
Price: $210 Retail [SOLD OUT: Check eBay for Current Price]
The Jordan 12 Playoffs represent a classic colorway, with tech that is still modern in 2022.
The Jordan 12 Playoffs are a lot, even at retail, and take some time to get comfortable.
|Model||Jordan 12 “Playoffs”|
|Materials||Leather / Rubber|
|Weight||620 g / 1 lb 5.9 oz|
|Country of Origin||China|
The Air Jordan 12 has a lot of great stories behind it. We all know the story about the flu game 12s – or, more accurately the food poisoning 12s – but there is a lot more to them than that. The 12 is actually the first Jordan to be released as part of its own brand. Many also consider the 12 to be the first “modern” basketball shoe. In fact, there are plenty of people who still feel they can play in it today, more than 25 years since it first released.
It also isn’t without controversy. One of the key design influences is the “rising sun” Japanese flag. While the symbol has been used for over 1,000 years, and is still used today in some places, some other Asian countries associate it with WW2. South Korea often refers to it as the “war crime flag,” a belief shared by a certain key market for Nike that represents 1.8 billion potential customers.
All that being said, while the design cues might not be for everyone, it’s hard to argue with what Jordan accomplished in this colorway. They gained the “playoff” moniker because of how often he wore them in the 1997 playoffs, including in a 55-point game against the Bullets. It’s one of the classic shoes in his story, and it’s no wonder why people were so excited when they announced these were re-releasing again in 2022.
With so many pairs of the Air Jordan 12 Playoffs coming out, you’ll no doubt have a chance to pick them up for a reasonable resale price for at least the next few months. But should you? Let’s find out.
The upper of the Jordan 12 Playoffs is almost exclusively just two basic colors – black and white. The black panel – which runs the entire length of the shoe – features a tumbled pattern printed on, as well as stitched lines radiating from the center of the sneaker. Unlike most Jordans up to this point, this panel runs from the toe to the heel.
Interestingly, this black panel is all one piece. With leather, it’s nearly impossible to find large pieces without and blemishes. In fact, for higher end shoes, there is often one guy who does all the selection for a factory (known as a “clicking”). While Jordan brand certainly uses plastic to cover up some blemishes, finding enough panels this large is still pretty impressive.
Speaking of leather, the white panels don’t have any in them. Embossed with a lizard skin print, these panels are 100% synthetic. You’ll find them wrapping around the front ½ of the shoe on the exterior, and the middle 1/3rd of the interior.
The upper isn’t exclusively two-tone. A silver plastic panel rises out of the back of each white piece – with “JUMPMAN” on the exterior one. Matte silver eyelets hold the top of the laces in place, a change from the shiny versions on the last release.
There are other little details as well. The tongue features a red Jumpman logo and “TWO 3” on it. The “TWO 3” was apparently Jordan’s idea, as he was always trying to find a new way to fit his number on his sneakers. Around back, another Jumpman and a quality tag hide a pull tab to help get the sneakers on.
Inside, a black soft mesh lining runs most of the sneaker, and a red Jumpman under your heel finishes everything out.
Mid- and Outsole:
On the bottom half of the Jordan 12 Playoffs, you’ll find much of the same. In fact, almost every theme from the upper is mirrored here. First, the black panel is copied on a small painted section near the heel, even including a faux-fold. Near the front of the shoe, the foam mimics the lizard print of the white toe panels.
You’ll even find Jordan brand included a few red accents like the upper. A red 23 is center on the midsole at the back of the shoe, and another red 23 is peaking out on the bottom. The black Jumpman logo that wraps from the bottom to the toe, with just the hand and ball visible when the sneaker is on the ground. This is really the only part of the sneaker that doesn’t speak to me. That little visible section always seemed out of place.
On the very bottom of the shoe, though, you’ll find it’s all business. From large black herringbone patches front and rear, to a mostly exposed carbon plate in the middle, it’s great seeing some of the tech that made the sneaker what it is.
While the Jordan 12 has a lot going on, the Playoffs do a great job of toning down an otherwise busy sneaker. Some people even say you can wear these sneakers with business casual outfits. I think those people are wrong – get a pair of simple brown leather sneakers or boots – but it still goes to show you that they have more versatility than you might expect.
Still, these are chunky shoes, almost boot-like in feel. I’d suggest embracing that and wearing something that matches that vibe.
Fit & Comfort:
The Jordan 12 Playoffs fit like every other Jordan 12. Big.
Most Nike sneakers are long, but pretty narrow. A few – like the Jordan 13 – are shaped more like a normal human foot and are shorter and wider. The 12s have the Jordan 13 width, but the typical Nike length. In other words, they are big in nearly every direction. I would suggest going down half a size.
The good news is that, assuming you get the sizing right, the sneaker should fit most people pretty well. Being wider than the earlier Jordans means you’ll be able to avoid massive toe space, or needing to pull the laces too tight.
I got these in a 13, because that’s what I hit on, but I would really have been better in a 12.5. For reference, in a Jordan 1 I wear a 13, in an Ultraboost I wear a 13, and in a Stan Smith I wear a 12.5.
For a list of sizing in every shoe we’ve reviewed, click here.
Out of the box, the Jordan 12 is notoriously stiff and the Jordan 12 Playoffs are no exception. With the midsole being thinner than what you find in an 11, but still featuring the large carbon plate, there isn’t really anywhere for them to bend when you first put them on. However, give them a few wears and things start to soften up significantly.
Once they do soften up, they really come alive. That carbon plate provides a bit of pop in your step – even if you’re just wearing them to pick up groceries. Combined with the full-length zoom air drop-in unit and these are still comfortable by 2022 standards. While they are not as great as something like boost, you can easily wear them all day without any worry.
Materials & Construction:
On the outside of the Jordan 12 Playoffs, don’t expect to be blown away, especially for this price. As mentioned above, many of the materials trying to pass off as premium are anything but. The exotic-skin looking white panels are plastic, the metal looking panels are plastic, etc. This is not a premium upper.
To give credit where credit is due, while the black leather is the typical stuff you find on Nikes, getting a panel that big is difficult. I also like this lining material, even if it isn’t quite the same as what you found on the original release of these sneakers.
Where the materials story changes is in the mid and outsole. Below a fairly thin and forgettable insole, the Jordan 12 features a full-length zoom air insole. Zoom air is different from traditional air by a number of tensile strands inside of it that push it back into shape extremely quickly, giving it a springy feel that regular air can’t match. It’s still the primary cushioning on the most recent Air Jordan – the 36.
Rounding off the sneaker is a rubber outsole. While slightly heavier than what is used today, this outsole should provide great durability and grip. If you don’t need to shed every single milligram, rubber is a great choice for an outsole.
If you want a more in-depth analysis, Weartesters cut a pair of the last release of the playoffs here.
The Jordan 12 Playoffs are made like almost every Jordan since the 2s – with entirely cemented construction. If you want a more in-depth guide to what that means, click here. However, if you’re looking for the cliff-notes version, it essentially means Jordan brand glues the upper to the midsole using contact cement.
Cemented construction isn’t the most durable style out there, but it’s cheap and flexible – perfect for an athletic sneaker. Just don’t expect to put a new sole on these without a lot of work.
Pricing & Value:
Originally priced at $210, the Jordan 12 Playoffs sold out instantly. As this review is being written a few days after the release, resale prices are around $250 or so, depending on the size.
$250 puts them right around most other semi-hyped releases, though it’s still a lot for most people. If you’re looking for a 12 but don’t have quite as much to spend, the reverse taxis – which are very similar to this colorway – are generally going for under retail.
While the sneaker market is hard to predict, before the 2022 release was announced, the previous version of this sneaker was going for between $350 and $450. It’s possible this release could get back up there after a few years.
The Jordan 12 Playoffs fall in line with almost every other Jordan 12 when it comes to price, so it’s really just a toss up of which colorway you prefer. It’s pretty clear that the market feels that somewhere around $250 is the right price for a Jordan 12.
While from an objective perspective it’s hard to say any Jordans are “worth it,” it should be noted that much of the technology in the 12 is still in use by Nike and Jordan Brand today. Sure, you can find it for less money, but it isn’t like a Jordan 1 where you’re pretty much just paying for the style.
The Jordan 12 Playoffs is a great pick up if you’re looking for a Jordan 12. It’s got the history, it’s got the look, and it’s got a reasonable price. The only real drawback here is Jordan brand deciding to cheap out a bit here and there – most notably the white panels on the upper.
While this release has been a bit overshadowed by the Rebellionaire and the news of the upcoming 2022 Chicago 85s, that’s just an opportunity for you to pick up a classic.