Christmas is just days away, and for Jordan heads, that often signifies a brand new pair of Air Jordan 11s. Well, brand new in the sense that we’ll be getting a new version of an old colorway. On the eve of the highly anticipated release of the “Concord” Air Jordan 11, we at DJBobbyTrends.com would like to take it back… WAY back to 1995 where we will discover the origins and history of not only the most popular Air Jordan shoe ever, but arguably the greatest shoe of all time.
The 1995 NBA Playoffs were a crucial one for Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. For the first time in a few years, the Bulls weren’t the favorites as Shaquille O’Neal, Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway and the Orlando Magic rose to prominence after Michael Jordan’s sudden retirement and return with the Chicago Bulls. In the time of Jordan’s retirement, it was business as usual for the folks at Nike, Inc. The Air Jordan line was going to come to an end with the Air Jordan 10, but Jordan’s return gave the line second life and they were now planning up the Air Jordan 11. In the process of creating the Air Jordan 11, both Tinker Hatfield and Nike cooked up samples to be approved by the shoe’s namesake. Jordan, always one for elegance and style, aimed to have the shoe be court ready and yet stylish. In fact, he wanted the newest Air Jordan to be worn with a suit. Nike served Jordan with a sample and it won him over so much that he took it and warned Nike that he’d wear it. All was well with Nike, as long as it wasn’t worn on court. The shoe was still in its preliminary stages of design. Fast forward to the Bulls/Magic game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, Ahmad Rashad walks along the baseline and spots Jordan in some brand new shoes. Rashad finds the opportunity to get his hands on a pair and as America tuned in to the game, here was Ahmad Rashad introducing the world to the “newest Air Jordan shoe”. As the world thought that they had just seen the Air Jordan 11, Nike was livid. Now they were forced to put a shoe that, while NOT in its final design phase, would go into production. The Air Jordan 11 was released to the world just as they had seen it on NBC and, as they say, the rest is history.
The Bulls would go on to lose the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals series against the Orlando Magic, but it would be noted as the first on court sighting of the Air Jordan 11. Oddly inspired by a lawnmower, the shoe was designed by Tinker Hatfield as it was his 9th collaboration with Jordan. The shoe fulfilled all of Michael Jordan’s wishes as the codura nylon upper, seen on high end mountaineering backpacks, would serve as the upper base for its durable yet lightweight structure; and the mudguard, which lived up to Jordan’s stylish attribute, was made of a rich patent leather finish. The Air Jordan 11 was indeed luxurious and formal enough to both wear on court and in a suit. The Air Jordan 11’s stylish reputation was further confirmed when the group Boyz II Men took to the stage of the Grammy’s in the sneakers along with tuxedos. The Air Jordan 11, at that point, were not “just sneakers”. The inclusion of patent leather on the design would also mirror the flashy imagery in hip-hop culture as the “jiggy” era was in full swing.
The Air Jordan 11 would go on to become a staple in pop culture as the shoe was prominently featured in the 1996 film “Space Jam”, its innovative design would go on to set standards within the sneaker culture and, in a show of redemption, it would be the shoe of choice as Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls claimed the 1996 NBA Championship. The Air Jordan 11 hit the market again in 2000 and helped usher in the new retro craze that Nike (and other sneaker companies) would greatly benefit from for years to come. In 2006, the Air Jordan 11 would be involved in another monumental release as Jordan Brand began experimenting with packaging multiple shoes together for retail. The Defining Moments Pack (or DMP) was released on January 12th, 2006 and it was the inclusion of the white/black Air Jordan 11 that had all clamoring to get their hands on a pack. From 2008 until this Friday, December 23rd, the Air Jordan 11 has released in either original colorways (white/black, black/red) or highly sought after retro colorways (“Space Jam”, “Cool Grey”) and continues to be the sure fire hit for Jordan Brand. Is this your favorite shoe of all time?