I consistently get asked if I recommend any Retro Air Jordan models for use on the hardwood… my simple answer is no.
Often times it is assumed my decision is based on the tech utilized in the older models, when in fact, the tech is essentially the same. Sure, there is no Lunar Foam, Lunarlon or 360 Air max units featured in the older Jordan’s. There are however, Zoom Air units and Air Sole units… the same exact units placed in today’s shoes. Phylon, Mesh, Polyurethane, Leather, Rubber, Suede & Nubuck… it was used back then just as it is today.
What has changed over the years is the quality of the materials used. The molds have changed which causes the shape of the shoe to be different thus giving you a different feel on foot. These are the changes that I based my decision off of.
I don’t own the Air Jordan XI’s pictured above, I don’t know where they were purchased or how many wears on court it took for them to end up this way… all I know is that whoever played in these and had this experience, experienced something far different than I had back in 1995 & 2000.
My first pair of Air Jordan’s were the Original black/red AJXI’s. I wore them every day for a little over a year. Played indoors, outdoors, driveways & streets in them. Casually and performance is what I got out of them as they were the only shoes I had for the allotted time. By the end of their lifespan they had very little outsole remaining, the carbon fiber was cracking and splitting and the patent leather had a hole in the toe along with a ton of peeling… it took over a year of day in and day out use for them to get that way.
Five years later the XI’s were Retro-ed for the first time. I purchased my all time favorite colorway… the White/ Black – Dark Concord. By that time I had about two or three pairs of shoes so I primarily used them for casual use. However, every so often I would head out to the courts with only my beloved Concords on foot, they played just as the 1995 Originals had. Cushion was like walking on clouds, the mesh was lightweight and durable, traction wasn’t the best but back then they suited me just fine, patent leather never peeled on that pair but I hadn’t worn them the way I did my Originals. They were basketball shoes, they played like basketball shoes…
Fast forward to 2011, we had the Concords re-release once more. While most will flip for profit, store in a closet or wear casually… there are still the few that still wish to ‘Be Like Mike’… People just like me. Yearning for the day one of their favorite Air Jordan’s hits the shelves once more so we can lace them up as Mike had back in ’95/96. Foolish… maybe. Nostalgic… definitely.
Materials used today are made without performance in mind on Retro models. The market for Retro products has shifted over the years, what was once a re-issued performance model are now everyone’s go-to pair of kicks to hit the club or mall. Its rare to see a Retro on-court nowadays. Why place quality performance materials on a shoe that wont be used to play ball in? Why not place inferior materials, raise prices to an all-time high, $180, and just make an easy profit off of nostalgia and hype… business wise, this makes sense to me.
The new performance products feature great materials and craftsmanship, there are a few that aren’t perfect but believe it or not… that happened back in the day too. Jordan Brand has segregated its sneakers; there are Retros, casual lines and then performance… plain and simple.
“Quality basketball products inspired by the greatest player ever.” – This should never be placed on another Retro Air Jordan again… especially when this is what happens when you try to play in them.
This is why I do not recommend Retro models for on-court use… this is the only reason I need…
Air Jordan XI Concord Retro Image submitted by Deftronic