Air Jordan XI Concord: The Original Grail

Originally released in 1995, then retro-ed in 2000 and 2011 – the Air Jordan XI Concord has finally returned for another release. Let’s take a look back at the shoe some consider the greatest sneaker of all time.

In 1993 MJ hung up his Bulls jersey & donned a White Sox uniform. It was the end of an era – the end of a basketball dynasty. While many believed Nike’s Jordan line would also retire after the Jordan X, Tinker Hatfield pressed on. Even though Jordan had left the hardwood, Tinker began designing the historic Air Jordan XI.

It was mid-year, 1994 & the Jordan X hadn’t even been released yet. However, the revolutionary XI silhouette was already taking shape in Tinker’s sketchbook. Over the next year, he continued iterating & pushing the design. This would truly be the most advanced basketball shoe ever produced.

Among the technological breakthroughs featured in the design, the carbon fiber spring plate & use of patent leather were the most notable. The carbon fiber – paired with the full-length Air unit – gave players the support & quickness to elevate their games. The patent leather was the finishing touch. The rigidity of the leather provided additional support, & it finally gave MJ the shiny shoe he’d been asking for. When asked about his inspiration, Tinker recalled that he “…wanted the rand of the shoe to be like the body of a car, shiny and easy to clean”.

Fast forward to March of 1995. Having satisfied his curiosity about professional baseball (& perhaps not satisfied with only 3 rings) Michael Jordan stepped back onto the hardwood. Again in a Bulls jersey – only this time, it was number 45. He helped usher the Bulls into the Eastern Conference semifinals against O’Neal’s Magic. It was in the opening game of this series that Jordan, against the direction of Hatfield & Nike, unveiled the Jordan XI PEs he’d been practicing in.

While Jordan & his Bulls didn’t win that series, the sneakers were immortalized that May & throughout the next year. He wore Concords in Space Jam & through the 95-96 season. A season where the Bulls set a new league record for 72 wins + another title.

This is the only retail release with his number 45 on the back – a nod to the PE he wore during that first season back after retirement. The release is a reminder of Jordan’s relentless drive & resilience. The Jordan XI OG comeback is as close as we’ll get to MJ himself coming out of retirement one last time.