A Look Back: The Air Jordan XI “Playoffs”

A Look Back: The Air Jordan XI “Playoffs”

Black socks, black sneakers: a big no-no in the basketball fashion world back in the early ‘90s. The combination just looked strange, until Michigan’s Fab 5 flipped the script and rewrote fashion history with their baggy shorts, black Nike socks, and black Air Force Max sneakers in ‘93. A few years later in the ‘96 NBA Playoffs, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls would pull off the same look on their way to winning the Championship. The Fab 5 started the black sock/black shoe trend. The Chicago Bulls mastered it.

In 1995, Michael Jordan returned to the League after a brief retirement. The Bulls would make the playoffs, and together would don black sneakers on the court (except for Jordan, who liked his new white/black Air Jordan XI so much, he decided to rock them instead of an all-black sneaker. He’d later be fined and ordered by the NBA to wear sneakers that matched his teammates, so he switched to Penny Hardaway’s Air Flight One for one game, and then to his Air Jordan XI “Space Jam” colorway).

The Bulls would come up short that season, but it was only fuel for the ’95-’96 campaign. Jordan would wear his AJ XI “Concord” colorway the entire regular season, but then break out a new color for the playoffs: the Air Jordan XI black/white/red. The Bulls as a team also switched to black shoes and socks for the playoffs. Along with Jordan, Scottie Pippen wore an all-black Nike Air More Uptempo, and Dennis Rodman sported an all-black Nike Air Shake Ndestrukt. Pippen’s Uptempo and Rodman’s Ndestrukt are now both considered classic ‘90s Nike basketball shoes, but Jordan’s XI stood out the most.

Touted as “the best performance basketball shoe for the best player on earth – Michael Jordan,” the AJ XI featured a lightweight, supportive, and breathable combination of ballistic mesh, full-grain leather, and reinforced patent leather with a nylon speed lacing system. A Phylon midsole with a full-length Air-Sole unit was supported by a full-length carbon fiber spring plate to encourage elevation. The outsole was a combination of clear gum rubber and solid rubber herringbone traction inserts. This sneaker was truly a work of art, and MJ would wear it during one of the greatest runs by any team in the history of sports.

During the regular season, the Bulls went 72-10, and then crushed their competition in the playoffs. The Bulls would win their fourth championship on Father’s Day – an emotional day for MJ. After the game, he ran straight into the locker room and collapsed onto the floor – crying and thinking about his father who died several years earlier.

Back in the ‘90s, not many shoes sold out as fast as they do today. But sometimes, a shoe was so popular that Eastbay couldn’t keep them in the warehouse long enough to edit the newest catalog. This was the case with the AJ XI black/white/red.  The shoe was featured in two Eastbay Spring ’96 catalogs, but was gone by the time the second catalog went to the printers.

Jordan Retro 11 OG ’95 T-Shirt

Jordan Retro 11 OG ’95 T-Shirt

words // Brandon Richard

Continuing to look ahead to Friday’s Black/Red Air Jordan Retro 11 release, here’s a t-shirt created specifically to match your newest pickup.

The Jordan Retro 11 OG ’95 T-Shirt pays tribute to the original 1995 Air Jordan XI launch, as noted with the screenprinted date and colorway. Above that text is a large Roman numeral XI, filled with a unique carbon fiber print that represents the shank plate found on the shoe.

Available in White/Black, Dark Grey Heather and Black/Gym Red, you can grab these Jordan t-shirts here today.

Available: Jordan Retro 11 OG ’95 T-Shirts

Jordan Retro 11 OG '95 T-Shirt Black Gym Red

Jordan Retro 11 OG '95 T-Shirt Dark Grey Heather White

Jordan Retro 11 OG '95 T-Shirt White Black

Eastbay Memory Lane // Air Jordan XI Black/Red 1996

Eastbay Memory Lane // Air Jordan XI Black/Red 1996

Michael Jordan wearing Air Jordan XI 11 Black Red 1996 NBA Finals

words // Brandon Richard

In the spring of 1996, Nike released the Air Jordan XI in Black/True Red-White for Michael Jordan’s postseason run with the Chicago Bulls. The run proved to be historic, Chicago following up a record 72-win regular season with a successful bid for a fourth NBA Championship in six years. The lasting image from the Bulls’ Game 6 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics in the NBA Finals is Michael Jordan crying on the locker room floor, overcome with emotion after winning the first championship that his father James wasn’t alive to see. On MJ’s feet for that title-clinching game and timeless NBA moment – the Black/Red Air Jordan XI.

This Friday, the Jordan Brand will officially re-release the Black/Red colorway for the third time. The shoe was initially brought back in December of 2001 and again as part of a Countdown Package in 2008. Four years later, you get another shot at owning this classic.

While you wait for the year’s most anticipated launch, check out an Eastbay Magazine page from Spring ’96 featuring the original Air Jordan XI. You can also check out some of the Jordan apparel they released for the “Columbia” and “Concord” colorways. Shop the Retro 11 Clothing that accompanies this year’s release here today.

Eastbay Memory Lane // Air Jordan XI Black/Red

Jordan Retro 11 ‘Breds’ T-Shirt

Jordan Retro 11 ‘Breds’ T-Shirt

words // Brandon Richard

If you’re new to sneaker collecting, you’re probably a little curious as to what exactly “Breds” are. In short, it’s a nickname formed by the words black and red assigned to Jordan shoes that take on the classic Chicago-inspired color scheme. The most popular shoe to carry the nickname is the Air Jordan 11, which will be making its highly anticipated return next week.

To get you geared up for the special holiday drop, the Jordan Brand has released three Retro 11 “Breds” t-shirts. Available in Black, White and Gym Red, the tees feature screenprinted “Breds” and “23” graphics on the front, the latter filled with carbon fiber print. The famous Jumpman logo is also positioned in the lower left corner.

Hook up your Retro 11s by picking up one of these Jordan T-Shirts today.

Available: Jordan Retro 11 ‘Breds’ T-Shirt

Jordan Retro 11 'Breds' T-Shirt Black Gym Red

Jordan Retro 11 'Breds' T-Shirt Gym Red Black

Jordan Retro 11 'Breds' T-Shirt White Gym Red

Air Jordan Retro 11 Holiday Gift Pack

Air Jordan Retro 11 Holiday Gift Pack

words // Brandon Richard

Since 2009, the Jordan Brand has celebrated the holiday season by re-releasing the Air Jordan 11, arguably the most popular model from Michael Jordan’s iconic signature line. This year’s release is the original Black/Red colorway, best known for being on MJ’s feet when the Chicago Bulls clinched championship number four in 1996. Supporting the 2012 drop is a seemingly endless amount of Jordan clothing and accessories, including the first ever Jordan Retro 11 Holiday Gift Pack.

The unique pack includes a Retro 11 Stocking and a Retro 11 Beanie Hat, each featuring black and red designs inspired by the classic shoe.

Grab your holiday pack here today.

Available: Jordan Retro 11 Holiday Gift Pack

Air Jordan Retro XI 11 Black Red Holiday Gift Pack