On June 16, 1996, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls claimed their fourth NBA Championship after beating the Seattle Supersonics. The game is remembered for many things, but one unforgettable scene was that of Jordan collapsing under the weight of emotion after winning the title. As well as claiming yet another NBA Championship and a record-breaking fourth Finals MVP, the match fell on Father’s Day, only a few years after MJ had lost his.
On his feet during this iconic NBA finale was the Air Jordan 11, a silhouette with a storied history, and a silhouette that almost didn’t happen at all. Oh, and it also happens to be the man himself’s favorite model.
In 1993, Michael Jordan made the announcement that he was retiring from basketball, at the peak of his power. With this and his surprising minor league baseball contract in mind, most sneaker fans, as well as Nike, believed Jordan’s signature sneaker line would end with the 1994 Air Jordan 10.
But not Tinker Hatfield. The legendary sneaker designer got to work on the Air Jordan in the midst of MJ’s shock departure. Confident that the world’s greatest would return, Hatfield began to design the AJ11 in secret. The resultant silhouette was a high-performance basketball sneaker that blended technical prowess with style. A notable example? The luxe-looking patent leather of the shoe, which was included to prevent a player’s foot from rolling over but in turn achieves the model’s unique aesthetic.
MJ did come back to the NBA. Debuting the AJ11 earlier than Nike had planned, just because he loved it that much, he was even fined $5,000 for wearing the sneaker due to it not meeting NBA regulations. This year, the iconic silhouette celebrates a whopping 25 years in the game. To celebrate, Jordan Brand just dropped a special 25th-anniversary edition of the silhouette. You can shop this, as well as some of our favorite colorways, below. You’ll find even more AJ11 sneakers and upcoming sneakers at GOAT.
This 25th-Anniversary release pays a fitting homage to MJ’s favorite model and its enduring popularity. Staying true to the OG “Concord” colorway that earned Jordan a $5,000 fine, the 2020 update adds “JORDAN” lettering along the eyelets for the first time ever, while 25th birthday is referenced at the insole.
The “Cool Grey” colorway re-released in December 2010, and followed up the OG 2001 version. An ice blue translucent outsole pairs up with some subtle details for a perfect cold-weather rotation addition.
Think iconic colorways of Jordan Brand and “UNC” will likely come to mind. This 2017 retro features a white mesh upper inspired by the North Carolina Tar Heels and some classic university blue overlays.
Uniting two of the most famous Jordan colorways — the OG “Concord” and “Bred” — this sneaker borrows elements of the 1995 shoe’s upper and the red and black sole details of the “Bred”.
Strangely enough, the Air Jordan 11 became a silhouette that dominated the feet of prom-goers in the US for years. In recognition of this repurposing, the “Cap and Gown” dropped in 2018, blacked-out and ready for the more formal occasion.
If the murdered-out look isn’t your thing, this AJ11 might just do it. Based on the Jordan 11 “Columbia” from the 1996 All-Star game, this 2014 colorway adds a crisp white addition to the family.
Jordan fans just can’t get enough BRED. It’s an ultimate classic of a color combo that first debuted way back in 1995, the birth year of the AJ11. It received this welcome retro last year.
Not content with being the greatest basketball player of all time, as well as signing up for a minor league baseball team, MJ also landed a blockbuster acting role in Space Jam in 1996. This sneaker was released in 2016 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the film.
This 2018 colorway marked another reworking of the OG “Concord” AJ11 colorway. It features ’45’ at the heel — a reference to the jersey Michael Jordan wore when he broke his retirement and returned to basketball.
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