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.
Each week, we’ll showcase the most popular upcoming shoe drops. We’ll give you the lowdown on the prices and sizes, break down the history of each shoe, and fill you in on the newest tech features. Check back every week for the hottest shoe drops. If it’s hyped, it’s here. You can check out the full list of releases on Eastbay’s Release Calendar. Here’s what you have to look forward to this week:
JORDAN RETRO 9 ‘BRED’ – MARCH 10 AT 10 AM ET
Alright, this is a big one – the classic Retro 9 silhouette in classic ‘Bred’ colors. The black leather base with a black mudguard and red accents makes this shoe one of the most hyped 9s in years. It’s about as clean, sleek, and stylish as sneakers get, so make sure to be ready right away Saturday morning if you want to snag a pair. Men’s $190.00. Boys’ $140.00.
ADIDAS HARDEN VOL. 2 ‘CONCRETE’ – MARCH 10 AT 10 AM ET
With the insane amount of moves that James Harden puts on defenders, you would swear that his opposition is stuck in concrete. Harden’s unmatchable shiftiness and playmaking ability is the inspiration behind this ‘Concrete’ colorway of the Harden Vol. 2. Various shades of gray are featured along the upper for a look that resembles a concrete surface while the white Boost midsole ensures that, as your opponents slow down, you get even faster. Men’s $140.00.
JORDAN WHY NOT ZER0.1 – MARCH 9 AT 10 AM ET
Each week, we’ll break down the most popular upcoming shoe drops. We’ll give you the lowdown on the prices and sizes, break down the history of the shoe, and give you the scoop on the newest tech features. Check back every week for the hottest releases. If it’s hyped, it’s here. You can check out the full list of releases on Eastbay’s Release Calendar. Here’s what you have to look forward to this weekend:
JORDAN AJ XXXI ‘BANNED’ – SEPTEMBER 3 AT 10 AM ET
Inspired by defiance, the AJ XXXI is setting the new standard for the next generation of high-flying, gravity-defying athletes, like Russell Westbrook. The versatile AJ XXXI is built for the game’s best athletes with lightweight materials, lockdown support, and FlightSpeed technology that provides explosive bounce and a smooth ride. The AJ XXXI will launch in a black-and-red color scheme, paying tribute to the AJ 1 and continuing the ‘Banned’ legacy. Like the AJ 1, the AJ XXXI is a game-changer that defies expectations. Men’s $184.99, Grade School $159.99.
JORDAN AJ 1 HIGH ‘BRED’ AKA ‘BANNED’ – SEPTEMBER 3 AT 10 AM ET
The ‘Banned’ AJ 1 stormed onto the scene during Michael Jordan’s rookie season. The black and red color scheme violated a league policy, resulting in a $5,000 fine each time he stepped onto the court in the sneakers. Like Michael Jordan himself, the ‘Banned’ AJ 1 defied expectations and norms. Michael’s game – and the shoe – were revolutionary. The AJ 1 set the gold standard that the Jordan Brand was built upon. Men’s $159.99, Grade School $119.99.
ADIDAS CRAZYLIGHT BOOST LOW 2016 – SEPTEMBER 2 AT 10 AM ET
The Onix/Gold/Maroon color scheme is another James Harden PE, built for the game’s best creators. The shoe is stacked with technology that was designed specifically for Harden’s game, allowing him to maximize the athleticism that makes him so difficult to guard. A secure fit, deadly traction, and great responsiveness combine to help you put your defender on skates. Men’s $129.99.
words // Brandon Richard
This is where it all started — the Air Jordan 1 is the shoe that began the shaping of sneaker culture as we know it today all the way back in 1985. As the story has been told, Michael Jordan was originally fined $5,000 per game by the NBA for wearing the Black/Red colorway because it didn’t meet the league’s uniform guidelines. Nike apparently picked up the tab, MJ continued to lace up the kicks and the legacy of the Air Jordan was born.
Now, the ‘Bred’ Air Jordan 1 is back for the holiday season. The classic was last released in 2011, but exclusively at outlets and with special ‘Banned’ markings. This marks the first time that the ‘Bred’ 1 has been released with the higher cut and Nike Air branding since 2001.
The highly anticipated Jordan shoes will be available here in limited quantities for $140 this Saturday, December 28 at 8:00 a.m. EST / 7:00 a.m. CST. Follow @Eastbay on Twitter and @OfficialEastbay on Instagram for all release information and updates.