KEEPING IT RAHEEL

Air Jordan XI Concords are the Holy Grail of sneakers

The Concords are the Holy Grail of sneakers. Nike Inc.

On Dec. 8, 2018, the most iconic sneakers ever, the Air Jordan XI “Concords,” will be re-released by Jordan Brand for sneakerheads and casual fans everywhere. I’m not overstating it when I say these shoes are The Grail for fans of all ages. This release is special for fans because it will be their chance to own a shoe that should be in every collection and thus will help the shoe’s legacy live on forever with fans of all ages from various generations.

Behind every shoe is a story from the person that wants the shoes and that gives said pair of shoes a meaning and spirit that nobody else can comprehend. For me, this shoe was the living embodiment of “Like Mike.” I wanted the shoes the greatest player ever wore, but being a hypebeast in a immigrant family meant that I wouldn’t be able to purchase the shoes and would have to admire that glossy beautiful patent leather from afar. I reached out to various people in my life that I consider to be sneakerheads and casual collectors to hear their stories and see why exactly the “Concords” are considered The Grail for so many.

Bun B - Recording Artist and member of UGK.

One of the best sneakers ever designed. It’s a grail. The patent leather was an absolute game changer.

Joel Blank - Host of the Usual Suspects on ESPN Houston.

I always thought the shoe was iconic and such a classic for many reasons. The first and foremost reason was the greatest player on the planet was wearing them and then the clean look of the bright white and the patent leather black was an excellent combination. I loved the shoe so much that I got married in the low top version and my wedding party all wore black-and-white Air Force ones to boot. I am glad they are bringing them back, because with the fashion trend of wearing tennis shoes with suits and dress clothes, this is the perfect and most versatile shoe and colorway to go with anything.

David Johnson - Retired MLB player.

To me, the Concord is to sneakerheads, what the 66’ Mustang or 69’ Corvette is for car collectors. No matter how many quirky “quick strike/exclusive releases” that come out. The Concord will always stand the test of time. It’s a classic. It’s a perfect example of what signature sneakers used to always be about. A nostalgic and historic piece of art that tells a story in a silent movie format.  As a sneakerhead and sports fan that grew up watching MJ play, the Concord 11 signify “New Testament MJ”. (Old testament MJ was pre-retirement/going to play baseball.) It’s the shoe he broke out in his first playoff series since coming back to the NBA, against the Orlando Magic, while wearing number 45. Ironically, with it being the 11th shoe, it somewhat falls in the middle of his career/shoe legacy that signifies a different MJ we saw once he came back and rattled off three NBA titles for a second time. Which he did in a dominating fashion unlike the first three. Because of that historic moment/time period for MJ, his career and signature shoes, which I was alive to witness, it’s a must have in my collection and should be in any real sneakerhead’s collection.


Jose Partida - Producer at SB Nation Radio and ESPN Houston and co-host of The Raheel and Jose Show Podcast.

The patent leather didn’t just mean luxury, it meant unattainability. I grew up reading all about jordan 11s. I was seven in 2001 when they first re-released the Concords, and there was no way my parents were getting them for me. As a younger sneakerhead, I learned to save my money. But no amount of penny pinching could have prepared me for how in-demand and impossible they were to get during the 2011 release. At the peak of their hype, in my lifetime as a sneaker head at least, I had no chance of getting my hands on a pair. The Concord is as close as a grail as it can get for me. It’s the shoe that has eluded me my whole life, that changes on December 8th.

Sam Windsor - Houston Sabercats Rugby player and coach.

I’ll admit as a kid growing up in Australia, I knew who MJ was but never knew much about the game or sneakers. You ask me about concords in the 90s and I’d tell you it was a fast AF plane that flew from NYC to Paris. Fast forward 20 years and i have a new found love for, not just basketball shoes, but sneakers and shoes in general. I don’t like sneakers because of what they mean socially or for their worth on a resale market, I like the way they look and probably more importantly how they feel on my feet. I’m a big fan of the 1s, 3s, some of the 4s, but the 11s have always intrigued me. They are a shoe that looks clean and comfy and the fact that these are the OGs make them even more desirable and a must have. Maybe they’re what I need to sort out my jump shot too!

Active Adrian - Co-founder of Houston Sneaker Summit.

The Jordan 11 Concord was the shoe that he wore during the ‘95 season when they went 72-10 after coming back from baseball. Most of the Bulls games were televised on WGN and none of us had cable. I remember we went to this particular Asian restaurant where the owner always had the Bulls on (because he bet them). We were broke high school seniors but we had $6 for a dinner special AND we got to watch Michael play! We ate there 2-3 times a week not just because he was great but because we had to see the shoes, the Jordans fly. He was gave us that feeling like the Sand Lot Kids when they wore PF Flyers.

Nightwing2303 - The Godfather of YouTube Sneaker Performance Reviews.

Excerpt taken with permission from WearTesters.com: Everything written is all about the shoes. It’s why I love the Air Jordan 11. It's why the Concord version of the shoe is the best one — personal opinion of course. The only reason, besides the shoe being dead sexy, why most of us were so enamored with the Air Jordan 11 is due to the amazing feats and accomplishments — even the fails — that MJ performed while lacing them up.

El Jefe - Shoe Collecter and Hypebeast.

The Jordan 11 “Concord” has always been a shoe that I’ve wanted but was never able to get my hands on. I was born in 95 so that’s why the Jordan 11 has always been a favorite of mine. But at that time I was too young to appreciate them. However when they Nike re-released them in 2011, I knew I had to have them, only problem for me was, like most high schoolers I had no job and no money, so I did what every high school kid does when they want something, begged my mom. Unfortunately, I didn’t get my hands on a pair for Christmas. But this year I’m optimistic, release numbers and availability look high, so hopefully I’m able to get a pair!

 

40 years later the amazing moment in sports history still holds its place

Do you (Still) believe in miracles?

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It's hard to believe, but this week marks the 40th anniversary of "The Miracle On Ice" A result and event where "if scripted", Hollywood would immediately reject on general premise, due to it's improbability. For a younger generation who is unfamiliar with the story (or the odds), visualize a bunch of nobodies and college kids two weeks ago trying to defeat Patrick Mahomes and the KC Chiefs in the Super Bowl. Then, magnify that by about 50 times, and you'll have the general scope and idea. You see, this is exactly what TEAM USA was comprised of, a bunch of college kids, and nobodies going up against the mighty Soviets.

The average age on the American team was 21. They lacked speed, fire power and the tenure of their opponents. The Soviets hadn't lost an Olympic Hockey game since 1968. They had won 4 straight Gold Medals with their core players intact for entire stretches of their Olympic and Global dominance. By contrast, the only American returning from the 76' games was Buzz Schneider. Schneider would actually score the first goal vs. the Soviets. If you ask most American's today, they probably think Buzz was one of the astronauts. The Soviets were so dominating in this era, they had even defeated the NHL All-Stars 6-0 in 1979 to easily win The Challenge Cup.

Lake Placid, New York served as the backdrop for the 1980 Winter Olympics. Lake Placid is a small village in Essex County, NY with a population today of around 2,500 people. If you visit, it's amazing because everyone in that town claims that "they" were in attendance or had their elders in the tiny 8500 seat arena with their families. What makes the story even more remarkable, is that the matchup wasn't even supposed to happen. The U.S. were heavy underdogs even their opening contests with Sweden & Czechoslovakia. Not to mention, that no one really anticipated a contest vs the Soviets as a mere two weeks prior, the Soviets had easily defeated Team USA in an exhibition game at Madison Square Garden by a score of 10-3. Adding insult to injury in that loss, was defenseman Jack O'Callahan pulling ligaments in his knee. Jack remained on the Olympic roster, but played sparingly throughout the tournament.

The Soviets steamrolled through their tier of countries, defeating Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Finland & Canada by a combined margin of 51-10. The American's railed for a 2-2 draw in their opening game vs. Sweden, then stunned the Czechs, and then handled, Norway, Romania & West Germany. Thus the stage was set. There are edited versions of the historic matchup available for viewing on YouTube. Unlike the late Jim Mckay who refused to reveal the result on ABC's coverage (the game had been played several hours earlier) would never have had the impact in today's age of social media, and technology. Most American's had no idea the result prior to the game's airing on that tape delay. As a 9 year old kid at the time, this was certainly the case for me! This improbable upset didn't actually secure the Gold Medal. Team USA had to play Finland (trailed 2-1) before rallying 4-2 for the victory.

The "Miracle On Ice" launched some amazing sports moments in the decade to come. The Flutie Hail Mary, Lorenzo Charles stunning the Cougars, Nova shocking the Mighty Hoyas, but nothing could ever match American Pride on February 22nd, 1980 after the Soviets went down 4-3.

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