Verdict from 3 experts and 100+ user reviews

7 reasons to buy

  • Majority of the users purchased the shoe due to its aesthetic appeal, saying that the Air  Jordan XI Retro was a "head turner."
  • The Craftsmanship and quality of the shoe are good according to most of the reviewers.
  • Many of the testers appreciate the mix of solid and clear rubber in the outsole; the hard rubber grips the floor when the sticky rubber starts to attracts dust.
  • Some players love how the padded mesh on the upper is breathable.
  • Most of the buyers are re-purchasers of the Jordan 11, commenting that the shoe brought nostalgia.
  • The upper provides good lockdown, shares a few testers.
  • A couple of users like how the upper is stiff enough to offer foot support. It feels like the first Zoom Kobe Protro of Nike hugging the ankle.

3 reasons not to buy

  • Some notice that the forefoot feels tight, adding that the leather takes some time to stretch. One tester even feels uncomfortable because the material keeps rubbing on his pinky toe.
  • Many reviewers say that the due to the stickiness of the clear rubber on the outsole, dust clings very fast to it, making it necessary for them to do regular wipes.
  • A few shoe owners experience unexplainable squeaking with their shoes.

Bottom line

Overall, the Air Jordan XI Retro is more popularly bought as a collectible or worn as a casual sneaker rather than a performance basketball shoe. Although it is a solid performer on-court, for its price of $220, many testers say that there are other shoes with better technologies at cheaper prices.

Tip: see the best basketball shoes.

Good to know

Originally released in 1995 and designed by the legendary Tinker Hatfield, the Air  Jordan XI debuted at a monumental time when Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan came back from his early retirement to lead the Chicago Bulls in a 72-wins-10-loses season, garnering them a spot in the 1995-1996 NBA Finals against the Seattle Supersonics. The Bulls ultimately won the championship title for the fourth time.

The shoe is also famous for its appearance in the iconic movie Space Jam where Michael Jordan was featured as the basketball player who together with the Tunes Squad, defeated the villainous team called the Monstars.

As for shoe techs, the Air Jordan 11 Retro makes use of a full-length Air cushion and Phylon foam on the midsole; clear and solid rubber on the outsole; and a combination of ballistic mesh and patent leather on the upper.

Cushion. The Air Jordan 11 Retro houses an Air unit inside the lightweight Phylon foam. The air bag is full-length and molded with circular recesses, allowing the unit to bend and flex while having enough structure to support the weight of the user.

Traction. Two types of rubber and patterns are used on the outsole. On the solid rubber in the forefoot and heel areas, a dense and traditional herringbone pattern is featured. A wavy and less tight herringbone pattern is embossed on the clear rubber. The shoe is safe to use indoors and outdoors.

Length and Width. The Jordan 11 Retro runs true to size, though Some users feel that the shoe is a little tight on the forefoot. New users are advised to visit their local basketball shoe store to fit the shoe and ensure a comfortable fit.

Lockdown. Nylon strips are stitched across the Jordan 11's mesh upper, acting as lace loops. When the laces are tightened, the strips grasp the foot, pushing it into the footbed for a secure and tight fit.

A combination of padded ballistic mesh, patent leather, and nylon strips are used on the midfoot upper. All of which are staples for classic 90's basketball shoes. The mesh gives breathability to the shoe while the leather provides foot protection.

A polyurethane pouch containing dense gases is embedded within the Phylon midsole. Between the midsole and outsole rubber is a carbon fiber plank that provides midfoot support. Lastly, the outsole rubber is a combination if solid and transparent rubber.  

One defining characteristic of the Air Jordan 11 is the patent leather mudguard around the lower third of the shoe's upper. Depending on the shoe's colorway, different materials are used for this area, creating a contrasting block of colors.

According to Tinker Hatfield, the Jordan XI designer, the shoe’s silhouette is inspired by a lawn mower. In an interview, the designer shares, “I finally came across this higher quality patent leather that actually was not only shiny, but was also tough, scratch resistant and it would flex without cracking. It reminded me of that lawn mower, how the bottom edge of that lawn mower was really tough and designed to work in the conditions of mowing the lawn. I located [the patent leather] around the whole bottom third of the shoe for all those same reasons”

The Jumpman logo is stitched onto the lateral side of the heel and printed on the carbon fiber on the mid outsole. In some models, the number “45” or “23” are also printed on the ankle collar. “JUMPMAN JORDAN” is stitched on the tag of the tongue.

Although the shoe’s aesthetics are simple and not too flashy, the Jordan XI is popular for it’s nostalgic appeal. To this day, the shoe is still being re-released with new colorways and iterations.


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Bottom 32% Jordan basketball shoes
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Dimitrije Curcic
Dimitrije Curcic

Dimitrije Curcic has been playing basketball for over 22 years. Like Manu Ginobili, he’s a left-hander whose moves led him to a better career-shooting percentage than the Argentine himself. After playing professionally for 10 years, Dimitrije moved to coaching for two seasons before he became a basketball statistician for StatScore, and FanSided contributor for the San Antonio Spurs. Dimitrije loves to tell hoop stories through numbers and graphics and has been featured on Fansided, FiveThirtyEight, Eurohoops, and TalkBasket among the others.