Illustration by staff illustrator Sakura Siegel. Inspired by Nathaniel S. Butler / Getty Images.
Co-founder Adrienne J. Romero contributed to this article.
The first time I ever saw “Space Jam” I wanted the 11s.
In 2009, I had a chance to get them. I went to Newport Mall at 12 a.m. and waited on line, trying to avoid being kicked out of the mall.
The other people ended up writing our numbers on line on a piece of paper. I was actually probably closer to the 20s, but I was too timid to speak up. It took a random stranger to say “Hey, he’s been here awhile” and they gave me a number in the 50s.
That’s a sneaker memory I’ll always hold to me, it’s my all time favorite sneaker, a sneaker that gives me confidence, and a shoe I just am really happy I got.
On Saturday, the Air Jordan 11 “Jubilee” will be released to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the first Air Jordan 11 release. The Air Jordan 11 was a transcendent shoe that local sneakerheads said impacted the sneaker culture and sports.
“Everyone wanted to be like Mike and these were the shoes necessary to do that,” said Daijon Webb, a New Jersey native.
The Nike Air Jordan 11 first debuted in 1995.
The shoe was designed by Tinker Hatfield, who had designed sneakers for Michael Jordan since the Air Jordan 3. The 11s stand out because of the patent leather. It became common to see people wearing 11s with suits.
Webb also said it was the later 1996 film “Space Jam” that sparked his interest in the shoe. He said it was an “iconic shoe” to go along with an amazing athlete.
But the famous sneaker model also received national attention for the violence that accompanied its previous release.
Jordan was playing Minor League Baseball following the tragic murder of his father, James Jordan. Just 33 days before, he watched his son lead the Chicago Bulls to the 1993 NBA championships.
There’s an iconic photo of Jordan sporting Air Jordan 11 “Breds” after winning his fourth NBA Championship in 1996 against the Seattle SuperSonics, the first since his father’s death. He won the title on father’s day, and broke down as he clutched the game-winning ball and fell down to the floor.
When Jordan returned to basketball after an 18 month retirement in 1995, he debuted the Air Jordan 11 “Concord” in the NBA Playoffs against the Orlando Magic.
During Game 3 of the 1996 series, MJ, because of uniform violations regarding the color scheme of the shoes, would switch to another 11 colorway, which would later be known as the Air Jordan 11 “Space Jam,” which got its name for the movie Jordan would later star in.
Jordan and the Chicago Bulls would eventually be eliminated by the Orlando Magic that season.
For Isaiah Torres, of Clifton, he said his favorite Jordans are the “Low Concord Bred 11s.”
“Honestly (11s) are one of the biggest shoes ever,” he said. “You can’t have a shoe collection without them.
“… I’ve heard stories from my dad about people fighting and doing crazy things to get this shoe when it first dropped and here we are now in 2020 and it’s still one of the hottest retro shoes.”
The following NBA season Jordan would go on to lead the Chicago Bulls to a then record breaking 72-10 record, while also winning his fourth Most Valuable Player award.
Along the way, MJ would debut the Air Jordan 11 “Columbia” at the 1996 NBA All-Star Game, where he would win his 2nd All-Star Game MVP. During the 1996 NBA Playoffs, MJ would avenge the previous season’s loss to the Orlando Magic by sweeping them 4-0.
For me, other 11s I own are the “Breds,” “Cool Greys,” “Legend Blues,” “Concords” and “72-10s” The most I ever spent on an 11 was $340 for the “Concords” in 2011.
For the “Concords,” I remember going to Newport Mall at 10 p.m. the night before and the lines were already long and nearly out the mall.
My cousin and I went together, but ended up not getting a pair.
We witnessed fights and it was the first time I actually experienced not getting a shoe I lined up for.
For Webb, the 2010 “Cool Grey” 11s were the first pair of Jordans he tried to purchase with his own money, his favorite Jordans of all time.
“I didn’t know how serious the hype for Jordans were until this purchase,” Webb said.
He used Foot Locker to try and get them at midnight.
“I didn’t even have a bank account so I had to go deposit the money in my moms account and use her card,” he added.
He sat at the computer at 11:30 p.m. and waited until it was 11:59 p.m. He was anxious, he said.
“Finally 12:00 a.m. hits and for some reason the countdown said 0 but it wasn’t allowing me to purchase them, then I made the biggest mistake of my life: I refreshed the page!” he said. “Page wouldn’t load and I started freaking out. 30 minutes later I’m finally able to get in to purchase them. Only to find out that they were sold out.”
“To this day, I’ve been in search for a pair so you can tell I’m anxious for this release in 2021.”
Online queues and raffles are the modern-day waiting in line for a sneaker.
Retailers slowly started to release sneakers online. This was done and seen as a safer alternative to camping out for the shoes.
What people used to do with sneakers and hyped clothing like Supreme, people started to do with next gen systems and resell for a very large profit.
But today, it may be even harder to snag a pair of 11s, especially if it’s a rerelease of an original colorway. Some people use bots — a computer program that has your credit card info filled, and refreshes the pages quicker to add an item to your cart to purchase — while others ask friends or family to help give them extra chances in raffles or queues.
This will be the same case for Saturday with the “Jubilees.”
Years later and everyone’s still trying to be like Mike.