Friday, May 6th, 2011 at 3:51 pm  |  48 responses

Gallery: The Air Jordan XI

Greatest sneaker ever?

by Chris O’Leary / @olearychris

There’s a great write up at CounterKicks this week by Brett Golliff on the Air Jordan XI.

Golliff, a senior creative designer at General Motors with a heavy sneaker background, went in depth on how performance came first with the XI and how that helped shape what I think is the most visually unique, if not most popular shoe in the Air Jordan line.

The XI was my gateway into sneaker culture and the first shoe I flat out obsessed over. The concord XI is my No. 1 holy grail and scooping it up in December this year will mark the end of a 14-year quest. I know the shoe came out 15 years ago (almost 16 now), but it took me a full year to warm up to it. I spent my senior year of high school dissing the XI, thinking that the patent leather working off of the white upper of the shoe made it look ridiculous.

In the same way that I didn’t have the patience back then to enjoy the jazz albums I listen to today, I just wasn’t ready for the XI when it came into the world. It was a sneaker that was revolutionary and it lined up perfectly with MJ’s greatest individual season on the court. All these years later, we’re still wrapping our heads around the greatness we saw in 1995-96. That may be part of the reason why so many players jump at the chance to rock the XI in the NBA today.

Enjoy the gallery. The Bulls-era MJ pics are via CounterKicks, who did a thorough retrospective on the XI in November.

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  • http://www.twitter.com/jtrain73 Jono


  • marc

    The XIs are my favorite sneaker of all time. I remember when i first wore them to school and my teacher pointed out they had patent leather. I was like what are you talking about they are jordans lol. Memories

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    Those ’96 All-Star Uni’s are the worst things I’ve ever laid my eyes on…barf


    I don’t know if its the greatest sneaker ever, but it certainly is MY fav sneaker ever. Hands down!

  • http://www.bulls.com Rigo Gonzalez

    The Jordan XI’s are my favorite kicks of all time as well.
    Sadly, I have never owned a pair…

  • Jer dawg

    The greatest sneaker ever? I’ll say YES! Other sneakerheads have prevented me from getting a pair retail price.

  • Joblo

    I think the xi set the bar for all jordans and the xii, xiii, and xvi that followed are some of the most unique and innovative shoes ever created. Anyone who watched mike play all those years knows that these are more than just shoes, they are a symbol of greatness

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    The Black, Red, and White one’s are my Holy Grails xD

  • tRay

    @Rigo man you are f*ckin up lol you gotta get you a pair man I got the blue and white but I live in LA so can’t wear them everywhere lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    All-time great shoes

  • Jim

    Im still salty I didnt get the cool greys or the space jams the past 2 xmas seasons

  • http://www.bulls.com Rigo Gonzalez

    @tRay – I know, right?
    First I let it slip that I’ve never seen The Wire, and people on here went bananas.
    Now I’ve admitted to never owning a pair of these kicks.
    What can I say?
    I’ve live a deprived life. lol

  • ripslam

    Honestly prefer the AJIII. The 11′s are waaaaay overhyped.

  • Donte

    the ONLY 3′s that can even get compare to any of the 11′s is the black and grey cements,but other than that its not even close the 11′s by a landslide are the greatest jordans ever i dont think something can be overhyped when any pair that comes out people stand in lines for people still get jumped for the 11′s ,so to me the 11′s are THE hype

  • ripslam

    The 3′s are simpler and fresher, and the soles don’t yellow within two months. The XI’s are nice, but I seriously don’t think they’re worth $25 more than the other retros.

  • http://nicekicks.com meloman2.0

    these pics are swagged to the max, especially picture 11…. best shoes ever no doubt

  • Ronald

    @Ringo: If you havent owned a pair then look out for it on the 24th/25th (not sure) December 2011. They are releasing the Concord’s. But i’m pretty sure you’re going to have to line up.

  • http://www.bulls.com Rigo Gonzalez

    Thanks, Ronald.
    But Ringo was a Beatle…and a Starr.
    I’m Rigo.
    It’s all good, playa.
    Appreciate the advice.

  • Joe

    this was the ’96 playoffs. In ’95 he wore #45.

  • mj23


  • Ansonpanson

    I love the XIV’s more

  • Ansonpanson

    but omfg ray’s PE’s are off the chain!

  • http://itsahardwoodlife.blogspot.com omphalos

    First time I lined up for a shoe was for the Space Jam XIs a few years back when they were re-released. Performed just as well as my Kobe IVs on court despite being over ten years older. Great, great shoes.

  • DS44

    And he got fined for wearing these too!

  • http://slamonline.com zoom

    Ppl actually play ball in their retros?!! That’s wild. I don’t even make it a habit to wear mine often, let alone destroy them playing ball.

  • ripslam

    @zoom: So, you buy expensive shoes to sit there at look at? If they’re not OGs, what’s the point of saving them? They’ll re-retro in a few years anyway.

  • http://slamonline.com zoom

    I buy retros so I can rock them casually. I don’t think I know ANYONE who plays ball in their retros. I don’t buy expensive footwear so I can run them into the ground. It’s a sneaker head thing.

  • ripslam

    Sneakhead schmeakerhead lol, the point of basketball shoes is to play basketball in them. Unless you run some sort of active buying/selling business online, there’s no real point of buying retro J’s over some $90 AF1s just for casual wear.

  • Justin

    In 1995, Bulls played the Magic in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

  • http://slamonline.com zoom

    There’s no point in buying expensive kicks just to destroy them playing ball. I honestly didn’t know ppl wore them to play in. I play ball every week, and where I’m from you just don’t ball in any classic retros, which are the only Jordans still considered “in” or acceptable to rock. My dude, like I said it’s a sneakerhead thing. Ppl that aren’t into gear can’t really relate. And who in 2011 is rocking AF1s Lmao? Especially an all white pair. Nelly officially killed them when he put out that trash he called a song.

  • Joblo

    I have to agree with zoom cuz the retros are more than just a basketball shoe. I can honestly say it’s hard for me to wear mine cuz I don’t want to mess them up. It might sound ridiculous to some but I think alot of us can relate

  • ripslam

    I understand they’re “collectible” and all that, but number one, even if you never wear them they’re not gonna last forever, and two they’ll re-release in a few years. Anyhow, I think I’m making a futile argument, so I’ll sign off on this now.

  • flipnoyce

    Aww the ever elusive Air Jordans, growing up I couldn’t afford the damn things. But, when I could finally able to buy some I was a bit hesitant because of the price tag that came with it. So about 4 years ago I decided that I will no longer pass up on the opportunity because the price keeps going up every year. I, too don’t use them to play ball or think about wearing them to prowl the streets. So far I have about 30 pairs since I started collecting. I’m still waiting for my first 11′s.

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    Uncle Ray Ray has the greatest calf muscles of all time.

  • http://slamonline.com zoom

    @ ripslam: Your arguments can apply to anything. Of course nothing lasts forever. You’re speaking as though humans have everlasting life and material things are the only things that fade. Duh! And ppl don’t buy and sell everything that they collect, that’s kind of the point of collecting them. You want to keep them. Not really seeing what’s so hard to understand here.

  • eeee

    cant believe ray allen wore 2 different kicks at the same time lol but honestly he hands down has the nicest pe’s in the league

  • andrew

    love picture 11.
    ray also has the nicest art collection in the league. true story.

    speaking of pes though melo had some awesome ones.. dont know if he ever wore 11s though.

  • http://slamonline.com Tae

    Ahh, its tough deciding what tha best Jordan shoe is. But hands down tha 11 and tha 12 had tha biggest impact upon release. People were goin crazy over tha look of them. My top 3…(not in order) 11, 12, 13′s. 14′s pushin it

  • https://twitter.com/Howiej23 Howiej23

    The Air Jordan XI’s are the greatest basketball shoes of all time. Not only visually stunning, but right up there at the top of the list for performance. The perfect combination of a hoop shoe.

  • Tyreke

    Ballin in your retros is the best. Forget babying them. Mess em up and buy a new pair kids.

  • http://www.nba.com/celtics Byebye

    The threes the fives the sixes the 16s the sweetest of sweet 23s

  • http://slamonline.com Tae

    @ Byebye, did u just say tha 16′s r tha sweetest!? lol u gotta school me on how because to me tha 16′s arent even a top 10. Thats my opinion thou

  • al

    after seeing this photo and shaq is still playing ? now i feel old, i think i was in 7th grade in 95

  • http://bulls.com airs

    best jordans, hands down.
    and i cosign @zoom.
    if i weren’t broke, my closet would be stocked with shoes i’d hardly wear.

  • Josh

    I love these shoes, not for Jordan but for Iverson at georgetown.

  • http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2011/5/9/2161944/derrick-rose-kobe-bryant-lebron-james-bulls-nba-playoffs-2011 nbk

    these are not my favorite J’s to play in. They are my favorite “style” in terms of how they look but not to play in. I would rather wear the XVI’s, the IX’s, XII’s. But all my boys loved the XI’s so much they were my team shoe when they were first retro’d.

  • Kevin

    @Zoom you must b from DC bcuz we think like that…who’s hoopin in XIs? Honestly they really arent good traction-wise, but seriously, buy Kobe’s crap if u wanna hoop in somethin.

  • Kevin

    I hoop in the purple flights simply bcuz I got the purp foams, but what I look like with some lame AF1s on my feet? They exhonerate tastelessness and let bad-dressing MoFos get away with wearing goofy multi-colored shirts and hats thinkin they’re kool. SMH