I choo-choo-s you!
The Air Jordan 2011 was probably the most anticipated sneaker in the Jordan line since the XX3. I've made a preview post about the 2011 and since then, up until release, have been waiting to lace them up and try them out. Finally, after much procrastinating, here is my take on the Air Jordan 2011.
For starters, the 2011 lives up to the hype straight out of the box as far as first impression goes. The box, like always, since the XVII, has always been a stretch from the regular shoe boxes. Pros: looks great and makes it unique; Cons: it fucks up your box stacking in storage, hahaha. The box is a simple pop open case with a divider inside, equipped with a cleaning towel, information cards and of course, the interchangeable insoles.
My All-Star pair, with instructions, towel and insole set
I played ball a couple times since the release and had to opportunity to try these out using both the Quick insole (Zoom Air) and the Explosive Insole (Encapsulated Air). Upon lacing them up, I noticed the amount of foot room inside the shoe. I'm glad to find out that this shoe is ankle brace friendly.
Again, very ankle brace friendly with plenty of room inside. The lacing system actually wraps around the sock liner and locks down the inner booty, rather than the outer portion of the sneaker. This, not only provides a locked down fit, but prevents any necessary lateral foot movement inside the shoe.
One thing I did notice, is the amount of discomfort when wearing thin low cut socks. Which probably shouldn't be used here. Since the insole is loose and is able to come out, my heel and arch began to chafe when playing for long periods of time. I used thick crew socks for the second wearing to alleviate the discomfort. I also like how the shoe breathes, it's very well ventilated front and back and my feet don't sweat as much.
Tinker, the designer of the Huarache, used a similar approach to the support for the Air Jordan 2011. The shoe incorporates a thin, breathable upper, wrapped around an inner booty/sock liner. I could have used a little more ankle support for this one, maybe a molded collar or at least a thicker or higher heel cup.
I also noticed the shoe has a low center of gravity to compensate for the minimal ankle support. The top portion of the upper is at its lightest, and the base of the shoe is slightly heavier, so it somewhat makes the shoe more stable. It was sufficient, but takes away my confidence when transitioning in lateral movement. It was great for spot up shooting.
For me, the traction was similar to the Kobe IV or the 2010 Air Jordan. That being said, it was excellent. It stuck to the floor with very limited slip. Although the lacing system provides a locked down fit, I did experience some minor foot movement inside when transitioning in lateral movement due to the nature of the shoe allowing more room inside than normal.
Initially I felt absolutely no difference in the cushioning. But upon breaking in both of the cushioning systems, the differences become more apparent. Both became softer and softer and I began to feel the differences in both insoles.
The Air became a softer, pillowy ride. It gave me that impact cushioning I want from something with air. Because the full length encapsulated air bed isn't max air, it required very little break in time, and was sufficient for my 5'7" frame, although, I'm a little heavier than most my height, it felt great for my feet. It felt very similar to a 2001 Retro XI. I actually like these better than the Zoom, and I'm a big Zoom enthusiast. And until my knee heels, I'll be spot up shooting until the cows come home.
The Zoom was very responsive. Because the Zoom was in the forefoot and heel and NOT full length, foot transition was better for my feet hopping from heel to toe on the launch. I liked the responsiveness of the Zoom in this shoe. It felt similar to the Kobe IV or the Zoom BB low. I didn't experience the full extent of the Zoom in cuts and drives due to my injury, but I was able to feel the feedback on my toe-offs.
Trying out 2 completely different cushioning systems for exact same shoe is a first for me. And it was nice isolating the cushioning for review since that's really the only variable in a system like this. Trying out both and finding the differences becomes more apparent than trying out something like the Lebron 7 and the Lebron 7 PS.
I was happy with the traction. If fact, it worked too well. While it sticks to the hardwood, my foot moved around slightly inside. Provided the snug fit in the sock liner, the shoe itself had lots of room, which allows for easy breathing and ankle brace entry without the discomfort, BUT, your foot moves around in it slightly. I guess I could do a half size smaller in the 2011 for next time (maybe in white/red or Year of the Rabbits?).
This shoe is great overall and fit it for the all around player. Depending on your style of game, whether it be a spot up shooter, high post, elbow or slashing guard, the 2011 can accommodate with 2 different rides. Forget it if you're a big man looking for high impact cushioning in the low post or if your ankle is prone to rolling and are in need of a tad bit more stability- the 2011 may be lacking in the ankle support department. But overall, I liked the shoe. It's one of the better ones in the past couple years. I liked it better than the previous 2009 and 2010. And as well as the XX3 (Articulated Zoom) and XX2 (IPS Technology). Back to basics I say.
8/10 overall. Give me a molded collar and tougher heel cup, and you get a 10. I found the low cut Kobe IV to be more supportive in this area.