The Air Jordan 11 has been the most important seasonal Holiday offering for the past eight years, starting back in 2008 when Jordan Brand re-introduced the iconic Air Jordan 11 “Bred”. The following year, the Space Jam Jordan 11 returned and was one of the most sought after retro releases in the brand’s history. Now with the 20th Anniversary of the movie Space Jam, the shoe returns on December 10th to honor Michael Jordan’s starring role. The pair won’t be that hard to find this year either (you can check out a number of stores that have them in stock here).
So how has Jordan Brand’s yearly special on the 1996 patent leather icon changed over the years? We’re looking back at the history of the Air Jordan 11 retro and hopefully we can see how the past will shape how Jordan Brand approaches the release of more Jordan 11s in the future. Check out the full history of each Air Jordan 11 retro ever below.
Source: Stadium Goods Journal
The Air Jordan 11 Basics
The Air Jordan 11 made its debut before the shoe was even announced to the public. Part of that was Michael Jordan’s profound love of early samples to the point where he couldn’t wait for a traditional rollout, completely ignoring designer Tinker Hatfield’s wishes to hold off until the start of the next season. Mike did what he wanted. He wore the Air Jordan 11 “Concord” on May 7th, 1995 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals where matched up with an upstart Orlando Magic squad. It was actually The Last Time Michael Jordan Lost In The Second Round. You can catch up on the full story of the Air Jordan 11’s World Premier in one of our Flashback To ’95 feature stories.
The Air Jordan 11 “Concord” gained media coverage for its jarring patent leather mudguard, and due to the fact that it didn’t meet the NBA’s on-court policy because it didn’t match the pre-approved black sneakers the Bulls wore during road games during that season. Sound familiar? The exact same thing happened with the iconic Air Jordan 1 “Banned” earlier in Michael Jordan’s career. The rest of that Eastern Conference Finals series Michael Jordan laced up a predominantly black colorway that would come to be known as the Air Jordan 11 “Space Jam” in later years after the same look was featured in the animated film. The shoe was inspired by patent leather wingtip dress shoes, as Michael declared that he wanted a signature model that was capable of being worn with suits.
The Air Jordan 11 hit retailers during the 1995 Holiday season with the Concords, followed by the Bred and Columbia colorways arriving in 1996. The “Space Jam” version never actually released at retail until the initial batch of retros in 2000 to the surprise of many. A new Air Jordan 11 “Cool Grey” colorway also debuted with the batch of patent leather gems throughout the 2000-2001 release slate which might explain why Michael Jordan wore that pair during his two-season stint with the Washington Wizards. Our Jordan 101: Is The Air Jordan XI The Greatest Sneaker Ever? feature has a wealth of information about the history of the iconic model.
The Air Jordan 11 Was Always A Defining Moment
How could you go wrong with a pack that included both the Air Jordan 11 and the Air Jordan 6? Two of Michael Jordan’s most profound signature silhouettes came together in the “Defining Moments Pack”. The thought process was that Jordan Brand wanted to honor the two shoes that Mike wore during the first championships of his and the Bulls two three-peats. A Black/Gold colorway of the Air Jordan 6 represented Michael Jordan’s spectacular performance against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals while the Air Jordan 11 “DMP” paid homage to the Bulls’ 1996 title against the Seattle Supersonics that capped off the historic 72-10 season.
The Air Jordan 11 returned in a Concord-esque colorway, but with a few major changes. The shoes came with dog tags representing each title won with an exclusive booklet. The Air Jordan 11 “DMP” also utilized Metallic Gold accents on an updated Jumpman pendant branding. Initial samples also featured lace eyelts that spelled out ‘Jordan’ running down the sneaker, but was swapped out last minute due to problems with the metallic shade bleeding into the clean white mesh base. As crazy as it seems now, the entire Defining Moments Pack featuring the AJ6 and AJ11 retailed for only $295 USD and set the tone for more multi-shoe packs to come.
Air Jordan 11 DMP
Color: White/Metallic Gold-Black
Style Code: 136046-171
Release Date: January 28, 2006
By Far The Best Air Jordan Countdown Pack
Jordan Brand had a very special numbered signature installment to promote back in 2008. The Air Jordan XX3 had hit retail shelves featuring a DNA motif that matched Jordan’s famous jersey number of 23. The Jumpman promoted all of their signature silhouettes through their ongoing Countdown Pack leading up to the unveiling of the 23rd model in the imprint’s lineage, with each two-shoe release adding up to 23. All were packaged in a special edition fold out box with commemorative details and more fetching a very reasonable $310 USD at the time.
The tenth Air Jordan Countdown (Collezione) Pack released on December 20th, 2008 as the perfect addition to anyone’s Holiday lineup thanks to the return of the Air Jordan 11 “Bred” paired with the Air Jordan 12 “Taxi”. The combination was a runaway success as it marked the return of the iconic Air Jordan 11 colorway with the original Air Jordan 12 look, which both garner enough attention standing on their own. Did you ever have the chance to pick up this winning combination?
Air Jordan 11 CDP
Color: Black/True Red-White
Style Code: 136046-062
Release Date: December 20, 2008
The Space Jam 11s Finally Get A Modern Day Retro Treatment
It’s hard to believe, but the Air Jordan 11 “Space Jam” didn’t get a release until the first batch of Air Jordan 11s retroed back in 2000-2001. That more than made up for lost time for traditionalists and older fans of His Airness, but for a new wave of sneakerheads, 2009’s Holiday release was the first time that they had an actual chance of getting a pair of their own. What resulted was one of the craziest widespread releases in history on December 23rd, 2009 as soccer moms, sneakerheads, and resellers crowded malls across America in hopes of grabbing the Space Jam 11s. 2009’s retro existed in a time before raffles, where stock was given out on a first come, first serve basis and people showed up in packs even with the $175 USD price tag seeming a bit steep at the time. The Air Jordan 11 “Space Jam” retro set the tone for the new tradition of releasing the coveted patent leather gem each December and didn’t disappoint.
Air Jordan 11 “Space Jam”
Color: Black/Varsity Royal-White
Style Code: 378037-041
Release Date: December 23, 2009
25 Years In Is Good Enough For Silver
It was surprising how many people skipped out on the Air Jordan 11 “Silver Anniversary” pair given the success of the Space Jam 11s a few months prior. Perhaps it was the fact that many had their attention tuned into other retros at the time, or the fact that this pair wasn’t a traditional colorway, but the Air Jordan 11 “25th Anniversary” was readily available for purchase for quite some time after initially hitting retail shelves. The celebratory release featured a crisp all white leather upper comprised of traditional Cordura mesh fabric and leather, while a matching patent leather mudguard complimented the icy outsole for a truly clean take.
The Jumpman logo was surprisingly absent on this pair, although early samples came equipped with more traditional Jumpman branding while only 25 pairs in the world came with an odd coin medallion to celebrate 25 years in the game. Originally priced at $150 USD, the offering was even well below the price of the Space Jam 11s that released months earlier.
Air Jordan 11 “Silver Anniversary”
Color: White/Metallic Silver
Style Code: 408201-101
Release Date: May 1, 2010
Mike’s Favorite Jordan 11 From His Wizards’ Years Returns
The Air Jordan 11 “Cool Grey” surprised when it first released alongside a number of traditional colorways during Jordan Brand’s early 2000s retro slate and anchored a number of greyscale creations from the Jumpman for years to come. The monochromatic offering hadn’t existed before the turn of the millennium, but when its return was scheduled for the Holiday 2009 season, a full-on repeat of campouts and mall hysteria ensued.
Jordan retro madness was fully underway at this point, and the real question was what was a better time for the most coveted Jumpman releases, Black Friday or Christmas? While the Air Jordan 13 “Flint” held down the November calendar, many were already looking forward to the sleek combination of Medium Grey and Cool Grey shades to land on the patent leather icon. The Cool Grey 11s skipped out on the traditional Cordura mesh textile for a simple synthetic nubuck and even featured an additional blue tint on the icy outsole. The pair served as a reminder of Jordan’s non-Bulls legacy too, as Mike’s return to the NBA was capped off with wearing this retro for a few games in the early 2000s.
Air Jordan 11 “Cool Grey”
Color: Medium Grey/White-Cool Grey
Style Code: 378037-001
Release Date: December 23, 2010
A Very Concord Christmas
Jordan Brand finally brought back the Air Jordan 11 “Concord” on December 23rd, 2011 and the same hysteria that followed the past two Christmas releases seemed to double for the original colorway. Mall antics and campouts galore accompanied this release, and you couldn’t really blame people. It had been over a decade since Jordan brought the Concord 11s out of the vaults for the 2000 retro, and while the Air Jordan 11 “DMP” added Metallic Gold accents for a nice premium touch, all people really wanted was to be like Mike.
The Air Jordan 11 “Concord” was arguably Michael Jordan’s most worn shoe during his historic 72-10 campaign. The same Cordura mesh construction returned with this pair, while the carbon fiber spring plate was updated with a new icy outsole with additional blue dye to combat the yellow aging that so many people were afraid of. Splashes of Concord purple aided the outsole for a vibrant finish while the overall construction was a bit lower than past retro releases.
Air Jordan 11 “Concord”
Color: White/Black-Dark Concord
Style Code: 378037-101
Release Date: December 23, 2011
Breds Are Back!
In 2012, everybody knew it was the year of the “Bred” Jordan 11. The Space Jams, Cool Greys, and Concords had all hit retail shelves in past years ushering in a wave of original and 2001 colorways while everyone patiently waited for the iconic Chicago combination of Black and Red to finally arrive at retailers. The price had jumped up to $185 USD before tax, but people were quick to overlook that minute detail in hopes of grabbing the patent leather gem on December 21st, 2012. The Air Jordan 11 Bred had to compete with the numerous Kilroy Pack releases that were garnering buzz at the time and the Air Jordan 4 “Thunder” retro, but based on the yearly holiday pandemonium that broke out, you’d never guess that the Jumpman was offering anything else besides this pair.
Air Jordan 11 “Bred”
Color: Black/Varsity Red-White
Style Code: 378037-010
Release Date: December 21, 2012
An Untraditional Surprise With The Air Jordan 11 “Gamma Blue”
Would the Air Jordan 11 “Columbia” finally return in retro form? Nope, Jordan stans would have to wait one more year for that coveted 1996 All-Star Game selection, as the brand surprised everyone with the move toward an all-black Air Jordan 11 retro. The Air Jordan 11 “Gamma Blue” featured an unlikely combination of a new Gamma Blue shade that was somewhere between teal and a UNC-like light blue while accents of Varsity Maize hinted at Michael Jordan’s time spent at Laney High School where he infamously didn’t make the Varsity squad one year.
While fans had been begging of an all-black Air Jordan 11 for years, the unique color combination of Gamma and Maize set this pair apart from the more traditional Air Jordan XI release slate. Some were fans of the look, others wished for a more Chicago take on the Jumpman branding and outsole, but it showcased that Jordan Brand was ready for something entirely new in regards to their yearly Holiday installment of Mike’s 11th signature model. Unlike previous years, Nike had implemented numerous raffle options based on the craziness that surrounded their most sought after releases like the Yeezys and Galaxy Foams, so this Air Jordan 11 wasn’t subjected to the long lines and hysteria that usually accompanied the anticipation of Jordan Brand’s holiday schedule. Plenty of re-stocks hit throughout 2014 as well as Jordan Brand increased the production numbers.
Air Jordan 11 “Gamma Blue”
Color: Black/Gamma Blue-Black-Varsity Maize
Style Code: 378037-006
Release Date: December 21, 2013
It’s Not “Columbia”, It’s “Legend Blue to You
Finally. Arguably the cleanest original colorway of the Air Jordan 11 was returning, but with a few changes in tow. First, the Air Jordan 11 “Columbia” retro was no more. Instead, Jordan Brand had changed the North Carolina shade to a slightly darker and more vibrant “Legend Blue” and added even more icy blue tint to the outsole to differentiate this white-on-white gem from past retro installments and to prevent the yellow aging.
Michael Jordan famously broke out the Air Jordan 11 “Columbia” during the 1996 NBA All-Star game to match those notoriously iconic teal jerseys. The white Cordura mesh fabric matched the patent leather midsole perfectly while a high-contrast black lining kept this colorway looking as simple and timeless as the January 2001 retro. Jordan Brand’s new Remastered program meant that they were paying more attention to the production process to get rid of pesky peaks in the patent leather while upping the quality and consistency of the overall silhouette, but it came at a price: the pair jumped up to $200 USD before taxes. Overall, the move from “Columbia” to “Legend Blue” was met with a polarizing response given the new outsole color, but in the end, everyone had a good chance to grab a pair. Numerous restocks flooded into 2015 to mirror the Gamma Blue’s success the previous year.
Air Jordan 11 “Legend Blue”
Color: White/Black-Legend Blue
Style Code: 378037-117
Release Date: December 20, 2014
A Gift of Flight, But A Price That Shot Down Any Chance At Reselling
Jordan Brand returned to multi-shoe packs with the surprising Ultimate Gift of Flight Pack, a bonus “UNC” themed Christmas offering that shared that updated Legend Blue shade with a “Pantone” inspired Air Jordan 11 and an elephant printed Air Jordan XX9. The Air Jordan 11 “Ultimate Gift of Flight” ditched the mesh upper for a construction closer to the Cool Grey colorway thanks to a synthetic nubuck finish. Fans were willing to pay the $500 price tag and be stuck with the Air Jordan 29 if it meant that the flashiest Air Jordan 11 colorway to date could be had. The price definitely deterred some resellers, though. Now an Ultimate, Ultimate Gift of Flight Pack that featured both the “Legend Blues” and this “Pantone” inspired colorway? That’s something we can readily get behind.
Air Jordan 11 “Ultimate Gift of Flight”
Color: Legend Blue/Black-White
Style Code: 717602-900
Release Date: December 23, 2014
Celebrating The Historic 72-10 Season The Same Year It Was Conquered
What would the Air Jordan 11 look like without its signature Cordura mesh fabric? What if Tinker Hatfield had gone with a more popular upper selection at the time back in 1995 like a solid tumbled leather? We got to find out when Jordan Brand introduced the Air Jordan 11 “72-10”, a pair that celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the greatest season in NBA history when the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls went 72-10 en route to their fifth NBA Championship.
The premium touches of leather on the upper set this Jordan 11 retro apart from all that preceded it. The ’23’ PE heel stitching was nearly camouflaged due to a black on black color blocking while the Jumpman logo was updated with a Metallic Gym Red pendant. The patent leather mudguard was almost iridescent in finish with speckles sparking when light hit the glossy half of the shoe. The outsole skipped out on the added blue dye in the translucent bottom for a white-on-white finish to contrast the new Gym Red and Black carbon fiber pattern on the mid-section. It was, by all means, an ambitious offering that was universally available. Jordan Brand sold over 1 million pairs of this colorway during that holiday season, building off the success of the previous year when the Legend Blue was an easy find.
Air Jordan 11 “72-10”
Color: Black/Gym Red-White-Anthracite
Style Code: 378037-002
Release Date: December 12, 2015
Accepting The Air Jordan 11 As A Classic Lifestyle Model
The Air Jordan 11 Suede unexpectedly released at Concepts New York and KITH Brooklyn on November 11th. Those lucky enough to get a pair were treated to the most expensive non-Pack Air Jordan 11 of all time, with its premium Cool Grey suede upper ditching a signature feature: patent leather. The Jumpman branding was flipped on the ankle and freshly embossed for a deconstructed aesthetic. Everything about this pair was done in the name of Pinnacle-inspired luxury. Updated waxed square laces and an off-white Sail outsole unit ensured that this wouldn’t be a pair you’d see on the court anytime soon. The pair ended up getting a global release afterall, with more retailers the world over stocking the Air Jordan 11 Pinnacle Suede on December 23rd for one last holiday surprise.
Air Jordan 11 Pinnacle “Suede”
Color: Cool Grey/Sail
Style Code: 914433-003
Release Date: November 11, 2016 (Global on December 23, 2016)
Welcome To The Space Jam, Again
This is the Space Jam Jordan 11 like you’ve never seen it before. Jordan brand switched things up for 2016’s Air Jordan 11 “Space Jam” retro, as the overall shape of the design was extended in height to more closely resemble the original 1995 sample that Michael Jordan wore against the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The ’45’ PE branding was also entirely different, marking this pair as the first Air Jordan 11 to ever release at retailers referencing Michael Jordan’s half-season wearing his baseball number. Also changed is the inverted Jumpman branding in an updated Dark Concord shade. The price jumped up to $220 to accommodate a remastered attention to detail and OG ‘Nike Air’ branded insoles.
This is the Jordan 11 retro release in eight years after dropping a retro every holiday season became tradition. No campouts, no waiting in line at the mall. Raffles and Apps secured your pair in a matter of seconds and the announcement of the shoe’s return was readily accepted over a year in advance. The decision to add ’45’ PE branding didn’t technically make this a “Space Jam” pair at all but rather an homage to a sample that never released. If you still haven’t found a pair you can purchase your size in the links below.
Air Jordan 11 “Space Jam”
Color: Black/Dark Concord-White
Style Code: 378037-003
Release Date: December 10, 2016
Buy The Air Jordan 11 “Space Jam”
So Where Does The Air Jordan 11 Go From Here?
Does Jordan Brand continue the revolving door of Air Jordan 11 retros with a remastered sensibility and an eye on traditionalism going forward? Or do they continue to tinker with one of Tinker’s most legendary creations with new textiles like the coming Air Jordan 11 “Wool”, the grade school exclusive Air Jordan 11 “Heiress”, and the freshly minted “Pinnacle” Series? Interest in the Air Jordan 11 has never been as high as it is now, as the Jumpman is smartly bringing fresh and new ideas to the silhouette for a more lifestyle-focused crowd, while also toeing a fine line of OG enthusiasm for those looking for more traditional Holiday seasonal offerings. What do you think of this year’s Space Jam 11 retro with all of its ‘Nike Air’ and OG focused details? Do you think Jordan Brand will continue to update the yearly retro rendition going forward or change in up in the future? Stick with us right here on Sneaker News for more of the latest updates and grab the Air Jordan 11 “Space Jam” this Saturday, December 10th for $220 USD.