In 1996, Michael Jordan was settling into his first return to the NBA. After a brief stint trying out baseball with the Birmingham Barons, Jordan returned to the hardwood in March of 1995. Less than a year later, he was a starter for the Eastern Conference in what was one of the most star-studded All-Star Games of the ’90s.
Featuring names like Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Shawn Kemp, and Clyde Drexler, the ’96 All-Star Game was a showcase featuring some of the greatest talents of not only the 1990s, but of all time. In the end, Jordan’s East squad would push through to a 129-118 win over the Western Conference. And despite teammate Shaq’s dominant 25-point performance, it was Jordan who took home the MVP award for the evening. Shooting 8-11 from the field and a perfect 4-4 from the charity stripe, Mike had a total of twenty points in just 22 minutes of playing time.
Of course, after Jordan’s extraordinary comeback, his Air Jordan sneaker line was in need of a reboot as well. Tinker Hatfield took it upon himself to create what has gone on to become arguably the most popular Air Jordan of all time: the XI (11). Featuring a Jordan-first full length Zoom Air unit, a fully translucent rubber outsole, durable patent leather overlays, and tough ballistic mesh, this model was crafted with high performance in mind. During the All-Star Game, it was the white and light blue “Columbia” colorway that Jordan decided to lace up.
This particular color has only seen one retro release throughout the years, but the XI model has become one of Jordan Brand’s traditional holiday releases, so you can expect to see them in one form or another before the year’s over.