It’s hard to imagine that it’s been 20 years since the release of the most iconic basketball sneakers to ever hit the market: The Air Jordan XI. The world first got a glimpse of the bigger than life shoe at the tail-end of Jordan’s failed comeback tour during the 1994-95 NBA season, as the Orlando Magic gave Jordan and company what ended up being their last playoff series loss.
From the clean look of the white/black “Concords” to the aggression of the Black/Red “Bred”, the XI continues to cause a stir whenever there is a new release. The hype around the shoe during it’s initial trial run only intensified as the Bulls reeled off an historic 72 wins during the 1995-96 NBA season. The movie Space Jam would also add fuel to the hype through as Jordan dominated the Monstars with a dope colorway of the shoes at his disposal. The Columbia Blues were another gem of a shoe that Jordan unleashed in time for the 1996 All-Star Game, as well as the low top snake skin versions of the XI’s that had sneaker heads worldwide scrambling to get their hands on them. To be blunt about it, there was an XI for every occasion. The beautiful thing about the XI’s, it’s almost impossible to pick a favorite.
Just like that… How could I have forgotten about the “Cool Greys”?
Time to time, the release of a new version of the Air Jordan XI provides some very comical relief. Take last year’s “Legend Blue” for example. Many riots were incited due to the high demand and low supply. Just ask my good man Paul Moses, the icy gum bottom can make some people lose their minds and “just lick em” on live TV… Michael Jordan sure knows what he’s doing.
From a personal standpoint, the Concords were the first ever pair of Jordan’s I had. I really did everything and wore everything with those shoes. Played soccer, football and basketball in them. Took school pictures in them. Went to church in them. I probably even slept in them if you let my mother tell it. So much of basketball is inspired by fashion as well, and no other shoe can replicate the excitement or hype of MJ’s patent leather masterpiece. Such a pity that I haven’t had a pair of concords since my youth, however I’ve made up for it by keeping my Breds close to me.
God Bless Tinker Hatfield for giving the world these beauties. One thing’s for sure and two things are for certain, whether it’s a year from now or 30 years from now, the Air Jordan XI will be a hot commodity in whatever color it is released. For whom it may concern, the “72-10” version of the XI would make a wonderful gift this 2015 holiday season. Thank me later.