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Air Jordan XI (11) Retro Performance Review

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Traction – The overall traction was very solid with all things considered. Usually when you have a translucent outsole you lose traction when dust or debris is on the court but thankfully the Air Jordan XI have solid rubber traction pods located in the heel and forefoot.

The clear sections are nice and sticky straight out the box, which is good and bad depending on court conditions. However, I played on well-maintained courts in addition to debris ridden floors and the Air Jordan XI held up perfectly fine. Worst that happened was that I needed to wipe the outsole semi-often on dusty courts.


Cushion – With the lightweight Phylon and full length Air unit in place, cushion is solid as well. While they aren’t as soft as the original or 2000/01 Retro releases, they are still leaps and bounds better than previous Air Jordan models. Impact absorption is available and consistent throughout while still maintaining decent court feel in the forefoot.

* Disclaimer * cushion is as stated in the Silver Anniversary, Cool Grey, Concord & most likely the upcoming Black/ Red colorway which are all post 2010. Air Jordan XI’s from the 2008 CDP & 2009 Space Jams are not the same.


Material – Patent leather and ballistic nylon mesh are used along the upper… oh, and a very small piece of cheap split grain leather is located at the heel. Overall, the materials are nice. The patent leather isn’t quite as strong as it could have been if it were a bit thicker but all in all, the materials performed pretty much on par with the original and previous Retro versions.
If they made an Air Jordan 11.5 with Fuse replacing the eyelets and mid panels, open mesh in place of the ballistic nylon mesh and a Jordan Melo M8 patent leather cut with heel and forefoot embedded Zoom Air… I’m drooling just thinking about it.


Fit – They fit true to size, wide footers may want to get ½ size larger or wait for the materials to break-in a bit… which they will. The mesh wraps around your foot perfectly and the patent ads some support which is greatly needed. Lockdown is great all the way up the shoe so there isn’t much to complain about. Only thing that could pose a problem is that the materials are ‘weak’ in comparison to today’s synthetics but this is where growing up in the 90’s comes into play… we’re used to this type of shoe so it doesn’t bother us at all.


Ventilation – It isn’t great but it isn’t horrible. The material is breathable so that’s going to scores some points but its noticeably not as ventilated as something like the Air Jordan VI, which I still feel has the best ventilation out of the entire lineup.


Support – If the materials didn’t move with your foot so much I would say the support is great. The Carbon Fiber adds a lot of support along the entire base of the foot, not just the arch, and the overall fit provides you with the extra reassurance you’d want or need… materials just get a bit flimsy… its mesh… not much you can do.

Overall – The Air Jordan XI is a straight beast on-court. They look good, feel good and they play well on top of that. I hoped the quality wouldn’t obstruct my opinion on their performance and it honestly hasn’t. These are still one of my personal favorite on-court options of all time. There are better options, of course, but just knowing that you won’t lose and ankle or mess up your knees is definitely something to consider. It’s really their increased price that will cause someone to not wear these on-courts… I had someone come up to me one night after playing and they said “I’ve never seen anyone rock Concord’s to hoop… you must have two pairs.” I do… but even if I only had one… they’re worth playing in.

Buy Air Jordan 11 Shop Jordan Retro

First Impression
Performance Teaser Pt. 1
Performance Teaser Pt. 2

  1. did you not get blisters on your little(lateral) toes? all of my friends and i have felt that after wearing the 11s.. maybe it’s cause our feet are wider?

    1. Experience same on my left foot. Thus, am wearing bunion protector on the last small toes when playing on AJ11.

  2. got to find one in bootleg stores here. even they cant keep up with the bootleg campers. reselling bootleged XI’s on double the price… tsktsk. 😀

  3. We all believed we could fly after watching Space Jam back in the day, good to see some of us are still kids 😉 Great review as always, and what an iconic shoe. Also NW, the last several Jordan Project review vids haven’t been moved to the Jordan Project playlist on your channel. Not a biggie for those who have been following you for a while as we still know where to find each vid, but still worth updating for your newer fans. Keep up the good work, can’t wait for the XII (my personal fav)!

  4. Wow! Can’t believe I would reconsider these despite how excited I am for the XI’s! Just hope the XI lows, XII and XIII’s won’t disappoint me! Thank You as always NW! Love how you made that comedy entrance on the video! 🙂 hahaha

  5. Cool Grey 11’s have nubuck instead of mesh. Do you think the score for support would raise significantly?

  6. just wondering, now that you have your views with these, how would you rank them next to the 2011 since those are suppose to be upgrades. both shoes have their positives and faults, but just wanted to see how they match against each other besides having similar looks. thanks!

  7. Mannn I was bout to cry when you was lacing these shoes up and the “I Believe I can Fly” song came on, these shoes are beautiful man and i was really hoping you were going to bang but you didnt, but great review man!

  8. Great review, bro. Haven’t balled in an XI before. Have you tried the Cool Grey? It’s the only XI I have. Some of friends it felt different from a Concords.

  9. Hey Nightwing, I love the idea about the 11.5 where it has a fuse upper and the open mesh panels on the shoe. Mind if I take the idea up a notch where the cordura upper is replaced with Nike Flyknit tech, the patent leather has open ventilation mesh similar to the XI ie low, and a low profile lunarlon at the forefoot.

  10. Thanks for your detailed reviews! Do you plan on reviewing the Nike Lunar Hypergamer Lows?  I know Lunarlon’s “newer” technology for bball shoes and our choices are limited to the ’12 Hyperdunks and Fly Wade 2’s but the Hypergamers also have Lunarlon, which I know you like. I’d be really interested in how they perform since you’re a guard. Deron Williams and Jeremy Lin are wearing them this season. They’re not the newest shoes out (early 2012) but I think they’d be good to review.

  11. Hey Nightwing. Great reviews and great site. Appreciate all the work you put in.
    You mention the Countdown pack XI being different in terms of cushion. I was thinking about balling in mine, so I’m wondering what the difference is? Are they a “no go”?

      1. Thanks for the reply. I used to play in the Columbias, but that was 10 years ago. When I got the CDP I played in the XIs a few times, and I remember them, as you point out, hurting my feet. The XIIs though, from the same CDP, were really good to play in.

        1. Man the older XIs were AWESOME! Felt like pillows. I played in the OG and 2001 Retro and they both felt great. Then came the CDP XI and I tried them on and knew right away they weren’t anywhere near as good as the past releases… more like cheap replicas IMO. The XII from the pack was great though… shame since I wanted the pack for the bred XI since that was my 1st pair of Air Jordans back in 1995/96. These newer retro versions are better though, not quite the same as the older ones but good enough.

          1. You’re right! I always wanted the bred XIs to ball in, so I was pretty disappointed when the CDP did not perform well. Right now I’m balling in the retro black/red VIIIs from ’07, but I just ordered the new LeBrons, so I’m looking forward to getting them delivered!

  12. Great review as always, I do like the on court videos which also give a on feet view as well.

    I just had one question, These are impossible to get except from Air Knight and I know you have endorsed them but as I haven’t used them before, is there any chance their sneakers are b grade or not legit?

  13. Hey nightwing,
    I was considering getting a pair of jordan XI breds to play basketball in. At the moment I rotate around from the Hyperdunk 2011, 2012, KD 5 and LeBron soldiers. In your review you brushed the topic that unless you are used to balling in older shoes such as the original Jordan line they probably wouldn’t work for you. I am in high school and really like the idea of hooping in a pair of 11s and do not have any sort of knee, ankle, hip etc problems. You say in your review that you really like these kicks and was curious if you think I could hoop in them? I really like the idea of hooping in older jays and instead of just having them for looks or to wear on the street, bringing a pair to the court. I appreciate the help and Great Work!!!

    1. I dont recall saying they wouldnt work but if you arent used to the materials and the way a 90’s shoes moves then you may not appreciate the shoe on-court. With that being said, the Retro line is 100% playable on-court. They were good enough for MJ and they continue to be go-to options for current NBA/ College players so you will be just fine.

  14. Hey NW. I played in my space jams the other day and found my pinky toe felt like it hurt when playing. You say prior 2010 xi are different do you know how so? I own these same concords but have not worn or played in them yet. Is it the cushion or is it just the overall fit messing with my Pinky toe?

  15. I think the air jordan 11.5 you were wishing for was sort of done in the jordan super.fly low. 🙂

  16. Nightwing I’m wide footed and I plan on playing in concords. Should I just go true to size or go a 1/2 size up.because I probably won’t use them for casual use.

      1. i wear a 10 in jordan 3 and 10.5 in kyrie 1 and kobe 9,

        im looking to get the legend blue jordan 11 for playing. which size should i get? 10 or 10.5? thanks!

  17. I know you said there is a difference in terms of cushioning between the 09s Space Jam + CDP and the other shoes post 2010. What do you think about the fit between the two groups? Any difference?

    I’ve tried on Space Jam 09s and I’m a size 9 but in CDP 12s I’m a size 8. So just wanted to make sure before I make a purchase since a lot of 11s are releasing this year.


  18. I am from Malaysia. Most of the court are outdoors, so I wanna ask is this shoes suitable for outdoor ?? Thanks 🙂

  19. Do you think the 2016 11s will fit true to size or do I have to go .5 bigger? cause apparently the 09 release was a bit tight.

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