Do the clothes make the man or does the man make the clothes? Such is up for debate in this week’s Throwback Thursday as we profile Air Jordan 11 “Playoff” that graced Michael Jordan and his road Bulls uniform en route to his fifth NBA Title in the 1996 NBA Finals.
Leading the Bulls in scoring the entire series, Mike averaging 27 points a contest while also chipping in 5 rebounds and 4 assists each outing. The Bulls would defeat Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp’s Seattle Supersonics in commanding 4-2 fashion, capping off a historic 72-10 season and kickstarting Chicago’s second three peat. This would come as Mike’s first title since the passing of his father and his first retirement that saw a sabbatical in baseball.
As for the shoes, the “Playoff” Air Jordan 11s would earn their nickname due to Mike’s postseason heroics, debuting in the first round of the ’96 Eastern Conference campaign against the Miami Heat. The first foray in the Black/Red 11s would find Mike putting up 35 points in a 17 point win, setting the tone for the 18 game run in the shiny sneakers. Oddly enough, the official launch of the shoe would come in April 1996, roughly a month before they hit the NBA hardwood.
Since the release of the OGs, the “Playoff” 11s have returned in mid top retro form a total of three times. Sneakerheads received their first chance to relive the magic in December 2001, with following opportunities arising in December 2008 and December 2012.
Today, the shoe still lives on in the rotation of many dedicated sneakerheads. Both on court and off court, they prove iconic and an instant reminder of Mike and his dominant Chicago Bulls dynasty of the 1990s. Inspired by a lawnmower and created when MJ’s playing days were unknown, Tinker Hatfield created a performance monster that lives on in street style two decades later.
Cutting edge technology like Zoom Air cushioning and a carbon fiber shank plate provided responsiveness that propelled Mike during his 72-10 season and fifth ring.
For this week’s Throwback Thursday, see the 2008 CDP edition paired fittingly with authentic Chicago Bulls shorts from Mitchell & Ness.