Most sneakerheads who follow the sneaker blog-circuit remember hearing about DJ Khaled, world-renown DJ and sneaker aficionado (or world-class hypebeast, depending on your opinion), breaking out his Air Jordan XI (11) Retro “Concord 45” Sample; we even covered it here at Sneaker Files. I can remember the sodium level rising in my bloodstream precipitously as I looked at the photo of Khaled, silly gold-tipped wine glass in hand, posing at a pool table with his prize on full display. I mean, how the heck did he get such a rare piece of sneaker history? Who gets these types of things?
Apparently, a bunch of people.
While perusing eBay today for story ideas, I decided to search the keywords “Air Jordan Sample” to see what treasures eBay’s search engine might reveal. Three listings in, I happened upon one of the “rare” Air Jordan XI “45” samples mentioned previously. Before I could lose my mind at the amazing sight of this “Lochness Monster” of the sneaker world, I looked one listing over, where to my shock, another Air Jordan XI “45” sample appeared. Two more listings over? Another one. Five more listings down, yet another pair! I think you can see where this is going…
Eight. Count it out: one, two, three, four… eight pairs! For sale! Right now! Half of the pairs were an “odd for a sample” Size 12, while the other 4 were Size 9, a more typical size for a sample pair. Well, I guess I should say the “other 5” pairs, since one of the sellers has two pairs for sale. Actually, that seller isn’t the only one with 2 pairs; another seller has both a size 9 and a size 12 for sale. Where are these things coming from? Sneaker Sample Heaven?
Before I go any further, let’s get this clear; these are not the Air Jordan XI “Concord” PE “45” pairs, created for MJ upon his return to the NBA after his first retirement. For those that don’t know, when Michael Jordan came back to the NBA, he donned the number “45” instead of his former “23” (which was retired, by the Chicago Bulls). As a result, Nike cooked up a few pairs of the Air Jordan XI (the next model to release), both in the “Concord” and “Space Jam” (which didn’t officially release until 2001) colorways. However, when Jordan decided to switch back to the “23” (the number he turned into a synonym for “fear” on the basketball court), the “45” version of the XI was no longer needed. A few of those pairs have been floating around since then, in Jordan’s shoe size (13), and is many a sneakerhead’s “Holy Grail”; these are not those.
Now, either I missed the story, or it seems that Jordan Brand decided to whip up a bunch of these “45” Samples for some reason or another. Or could it be something more nefarious? The production dates of the samples look to be around the time of the 2011 release of the Air Jordan XI Retro “Concord”, as several of the pairs come with the box from that release. “Several”, but not “all”. One of the sellers (the one with 2 size 9’s for sale – you lucky bastard, you), whose sample pair does not come in the 2011 “Concord” box, makes an interesting claim in his listing. According to “Shoegameproper2012”,
“… And for God sakes please don’t trust the other auctions on Ebay! Those shoes are not legit. The Jordan XI 45 samples do not come with boxes. And if anyone is telling you that it’s packaged with the Concord box, then you’re getting scammed.”
Shoegame’s claim is not totally without merit. Sample pairs traditionally do not come in special packaging; they usually come in plain, unmarked boxes. However, when doing a little snooping, I noticed the style code on one of the 2011 “Concord” boxes used for the sample pairs, and just as I suspected, the style code was that of the 2011 “Concord” Jordan XI. So, what seems more likely, rather than a black-market factory cranking out counterfeit “45 Concord” XI samples, is that Jordan Brand just packaged some of the samples in 2011 “Concord” XI boxes they happened to have on hand (they are Jordan Brand, after all). While I am not 100% sure of anything, that seems to make more sense to me.
The main question that continues to bother me doesn’t have anything to do with boxes or black-market factories; the question that irks me is “Why did they produce these samples?” Was it just for kicks, something cool they could hand out to family and friends during the 2011 release of the Air Jordan XI “Concord”? Or was it something else? Perhaps a Limited Edition release that never came to fruition? The answer to this question, like many of the sample-related questions sneakerheads wrestle with on a daily basis in message boards across the world, will most likely never be answered, unfortunately. So, join me in dreaming about what might have been, and enjoy a few shots of these “Holy Grail”-level samples after the jump. Or, if you’ve got at least a g-stack to spare, head over to eBay and buy yourself a piece of sneaker history, exclusive or not.
Via WhiteCastle.com (Just Kidding. Via eBay)