Remembering the Air Jordan 11 That History Forgot

The Air Jordan 11 ‘Silver Anniversary’ never quite entered the pantheon of great retros.

The Air Jordan 11 ‘Silver Anniversary’ from 2010. Via StockX

If you want to start a fight, or at least an unbearable conversation on Twitter, ask people to pick the best Air Jordan 11. Ignore anyone who says Gamma Blues. Consider anyone who mentions Concords, Playoffs, Space Jams, Cool Greys, or Columbias. One thing you’ll find is that roughly 98 percent of so-called sneakerheads will have an opinion. And for good reason: Not only is the Jordan 11 the model that Michael Jordan wore during his legendary 72-10 season, but Jordan Brand has also made the release of the sneaker a December holiday unto itself by dropping a pair every year since 2008.

A sneaker that you won’t find mentioned amongst the usual suspects, however, is one that on paper feels like it should be there. But it isn’t. I’m talking about that all-white Air Jordan 11, that forgotten pair that's never celebrated, much less talked about, alongside all the other top-tier Jordan 11 colorways out there.

For those who don’t remember it, I can’t totally blame you. Although, everyone reading this should do their due diligence and learn their sneaker history. But we have to go back to the year 2010. This period can be looked at, in some regards, as the start of the modern-day craze over the Air Jordan 11. The sneaker first released in 1995 and was the first Air Jordan ever to feature patent leather. It also used a carbon fiber plate to deal with Jordan’s plantar fasciitis. Tinker Hatfield, who designed the sneaker, said it was inspired in part by the tough exterior of lawnmowers.

The sneaker first retroed in 2001. But then it didn’t release again until the Defining Moments Pack in 2006, when the Concord 11 was slightly altered and paired in Jordan Brand’s first two-shoe pack with a black-and-gold 6. Then, two days before Christmas in 2008, the black/red “Playoff 11s” served as the curtain call for the Countdown Packs, as the shoe was sold with the white/black “Taxi” Air Jordan 12 (the packs released once a month, and the model numbers of the two shoes added up to 23). 

But the next year is when things bubbled over. Sneaker culture at that time was still relatively niche. You had to find out about release dates by going to or calling stores, or hitting forums like NikeTalks, an ISS, or reading websites like Sites like Complex, Sole Collector, Nice Kicks, etc. were still very new. But in 2009, sneaker culture had one of its earliest crossover moments: the re-release of the Space Jam Jordan 11.

To say this sneaker release was big at the time is an understatement. It boiled over, and everybody was asking about these sneakers and how they could get a pair. Leading up to the release in 2009, it was all I heard from customers at the Foot Locker I worked at in Saugus, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. Release protocol was shaky back then. It felt like Jingle All the Way, but people were trying to get sneakers instead of a Turbo Man toy. A woman tried to cut everyone in our line and run under the gate the minute we started to sell them. The manager from the Footaction in my mall finessed his way into the pair that I had held for me and was going to gift my friend for Christmas. People called about the shoe for over a month after they came out. Back then there was no StockX, and the difficulty of scoring a pair was a foreign concept to casual consumers. 

But a sneaker release of this scale was a rarity at that time. Not only because sneakers weren’t as big at the time, but it was also smack dab in the middle of the economic recession. Flu Game 12s dropped and went on sale. The Varsity Red Air Jordan 6 too. 

2010 was going to be a big year for Jordan Brand. It was the 25th anniversary of the Air Jordan 1. The brand was celebrating its “Silver Anniversary,” and many expected there to be a 1-23 release of all-white or silver Jordans. That didn’t happen. What did happen, however, were four sneakers done up in all-white and one in silver that came in a briefcase. One of those shoes, released in May 2010, was a white Jordan 11 with a translucent sole and no Jumpman, save for a super-rare run of 23 pairs mixed in with the rest.

Think about that for a minute. That should be a huge shoe. It was as close as you’ll get to Christmas in July for sneakerheads. It’s just a no-brainer shoe in a simple colorway.  But the sneaker rarely, if ever, gets spoken of these days. And you’d be hard-pressed to see someone wearing them. They just didn’t hold up. The soles turned piss yellow, and something about the build made them look cheap. They didn’t come with the extravagant packaging used on the Space Jam 11s. And maybe people were just tapped out financially. Or they had gotten their Space Jams and didn’t need another pair of 11s six months later. You’d think that everyone who missed out would run out and scoop these up and turn them into grails, but nope. The store I worked at only got a handful of pairs in kids sizes. And the release didn’t have the same buildup or cultural background as the Space Jams. You never hear people begging for Jordan Brand to make this shoe this year’s Jordan 11 for the holidays. But I think they could blow out a million pairs of these.

I mentioned the shoe on Twitter the other day and was surprised to see how many people still had a pair. Many of them were in rough shape, falling victim to Father Time. An all-white Jordan is cool, but not nearly as good as the original Columbias that will re-release this year and sort of came out in 2014 (The “Legend Blue” was close enough). That’s the sneaker that Jordan wore in the 1996 NBA All-Star Game in San Antonio with the turquoise uniforms emblazoned with a chile pepper.

It’s not all that easy to get a pair of those all-white Jordan 11s these days either. The biggest size available on StockX right now of the Silver Anniversary 11s is a 12 with no 11.5. Prices fluctuate between $400 and $1,000, which leads one to believe there’s no firm secondary value established with them. That’s not the case with other 11s, which stay in high demand. 

Will Jordan Brand ever bring these back out? Well, they like making money over in Beaverton, and they actually pay attention to the things we say, as much as they won’t admit it, at least publicly. So never say never. But it’s going on almost 15 years since they first came out (dang, I feel old just saying that), so if you haven’t taken your pair off ice yet, now may be the time.

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