Sneaker News Top 30 of 2012
6 | AIR JORDAN XI “BRED”
Among the most enduring arguments in the world of sports is the debate regarding MVP deservedness. Some argue that the award should be given to the best overall player in a given season, while others remind us that “You play to win the game” and Ws count as much, if not more than any other statistic. The second group would say the MVP should be the best player on the best team and each has its own valid points, but what’s left to argue when the best player of all time leads the greatest team in league history?
From this perspective, it’s easy to see why the “Bred” Air Jordan XI comes up any time people mention the race for 2012 sneaker of the year. The shoe has a legendary backstory that rivals the richest sagas in sneaker history, one that traces its roots all the way back to the 1995 NBA Playoffs. It was during the postseason that followed MJ’s first return from retirement that the XIs made their first appearance, but more important than the appearance of the Concords or Mike in Penny’s Air Flight ones was the intangible impact of that series on the Black Cat’s psyche.
Their first playoff defeat together since 1990 seemed to prove that Jordan and his Bulls were mortal, but the following season’s NBA-record 72 wins plus one more trophy each for the scoring title, regular season, All-Star and Finals MVPs represent sustained dominance the likes of which we may never see again. That brilliant season helped shine a huge spotlight on the “Concord” and the following summer gave plenty of profile to the “Space Jam”, so the combination of Cordura nylon, patent leather and carbon fiber was already high at the top of everyone’s list. But there’s something
about a black Bulls-colored Air Jordan that just seems to pack a little extra magic, and the Black and Varsity Red playoff colorway can certainly make for a strong argument for being the king of all XIs.
However, perhaps the most relevant debate involving the 2012 Bred XIs isn’t whether they deserve a spot in your best of the year list or if they’re historically more significant than the competition, but instead, how it came to be that this particular colorway was selected for release this year only a few years removed from their last appearance. The smart money seemed to be on the 1996 ASG edition “Columbia” to return this Christmas after Breds, Space Jams, Cool Greys and Concords gave us each of the other four Air Jordan XIs in consecutive years starting with the 2008 Countdown Pack. The Columbias will no doubt get their day in the sun soon enough, but the 2012 Bred bump is a clear testament to how confident Jordan Brand was in its holiday season clutch time retail prowess.
Hopefully, next year, we will indeed welcome a second Columbia retro with open arms after eleven years and counting, and even if detail-oriented sticklers might take issue with the Breds not getting the special packaging advantages of previous XI drops, no one was complaining about getting another crack at one of the sneaker world’s most cherished treasures this December. Despite the rich and seemingly insurmountable legacies of earlier Air Jordan models, the yearly holiday release of the XI (in whatever colorway) has become an event in itself and has further helped it to solidify an undisputed spot at the top of the retro food chain.