First off, I'd like to apologize—I need a late pass for this one.

The "embargo" on posting photos/info on the Air Jordan XX2 was lifted on January 1st, but I decided to wait until I had a pair on my hands to post about them. Then I ended up waiting longer. And now they drop TOMORROW (for NYC heads, they were already out at Shoe Mania on Union Square South yesterday) for $175, and I'm just posting about them now. So, my bad. But better late than never, right?

Based on the Lockheed-Martin F22 Raptor stealth fighter (an idea Michael himself liked so much that he started referring to himself as "Stealth" during the design process), the Air Jordan XX2 (their designation, with the "2") is a sleek, simple design that encases a number of high-tech performance attributes. Even the box—which, like a stealth fighter, has almost no right angles—is revolutionary. According to Jordan brand Footwear Product Director Josiah Lake, "it's the most structurally sound box we've ever created." Inside you'll find the shoes (I hope), replaceable Air pods (double-stack Zoom pods are already in the shoe), a card expaining some of the shoe's features and—for the first time ever—a serial number that will allow you to register your shoes, confirming their authenticity.

As usual, it's the details that make the shoe. The replaceable Air pods in the heel, the zig-zag stitching across the side and up the back and across the top of the tongue (inspired equally by radar waves and the stitching from a women's Dior boot), the lace toggle, the 3M camo on the heel (with air vents separating it from the full-grain leather upper), the quilted inner liner and the exposed titanium-reinforced shank plate.

It's funny—at first glance, the XX2 slightly resembles the Jumpman J'Madness, a team shoe from a couple years back worn by colleges and NBA athletes alike. but, as stated before, you really need to look beneath the surface on this shoe. According to designer D'Wayne Edwards, the goal was to create a shoe that was more durable, better cushioned and had more traction than the previous Air Jordan. "Everything is there," he says. "You have to experience it to see everything and feel everything."

The outsole utilizes both clear and solid rubber compounds, with patterns based on sergeant stripes and raptor claws. Certain portions touch the floor before others, providing the maximum traction where you need it the most.

The outsole—as well as the upper—is different than that of a "normal" Jordan. More aggressive. "Jordans are always pretty fluid," Lake says. "This one's a little different, a little more angular." More stealth. "Every angle you'll see something else," adds Edwards.

And Jordan himself is still involved in the design process every step of the way. "It's all about MJ," Edwards says. "He's not in the NBA anymore, but he's still playing. And he has to like the shoe. He's 100 percent involved. His goal is to make it the best performance shoe we can create."

And oh yes—it officially releases on MJs 44th birthday. What could be better than that? (Along with the white colorway shown here, there will be a limited brownish-orange colorway made of basketball material. You'll either love it or hate it. A true stealth black-based colorway is coming later.)