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Air Jordan 11 Legend Blue

After the success of the first Air Jordan 11, Jordan Brand began to work on expanding the range of its groundbreaking sneaker. It was February 1996, and Michael Jordan was in the midst of his triumphant comeback to the NBA, with the Chicago Bulls halfway towards a record-breaking season. Up until this point, he had favored the AJ11 Concord, but when he took to the court at the San Antonio Alamodome for his first All-Star Game since his 1993 retirement, he was wearing a new colorway with pale blue accents that matched both the teal uniforms of his Eastern Conference teammates and the colors of his alma mater, the University of North Carolina. Known initially as the Columbia and later as the Jordan 11 Legend Blue for its connection to Jordan’s legendary story, it would go on to become one of the most celebrated of all AJ11 colorways.

When the Air Jordan 11 Columbia was first released, its light, elegant tones provided the perfect counterbalance to the darker hues found on the Bred colorway, which also came out in early 1996. It has all of the stylish performance features found on the 1995 original, including the translucent outsole, here tinted blue, and the carbon fiber shank plate with its white Jumpman logo. Black pods with herringbone grip lines are placed below the toe and heel, and the white midsole combines Phylon foam with full-length Air cushioning. Its upper is largely white, both on the patent leather mudguard and the quarter panel, which is made of traditional leather instead of ballistic mesh. White leather forms the heel panel, the tongue retains its mesh covering and the interior is filled out in a soft black material that spills out to form the heel tab. Columbia Blue branding highlights the tongue, and the familiar Jumpman and 23 on the heel also come in this light azure hue.

Jordan’s performance while wearing the AJ11 Columbia ended up earning him his first MVP award in an All-Star Game since 1988, benefitting both his own reputation and the shoe’s, which was captured from almost every conceivable angle by the sports photographers of the day. This brought the colorway a level of fame and success that has only grown over the years, leading to the release of all sorts of new models in both men’s and women’s styles as well as those for kids.

It was only a few years before the first Retro release, which arrived in 2001 alongside reruns of the other OG colorways. Its build is almost exactly the same as its predecessor, except the blue tinge running through the outsole is gone, and a hint of beige has been left in its place. Later that year, the first low-top Columbia appeared, its design incorporating large sections of Columbia Blue through the opaque rubber pods in the otherwise translucent outsole and the entirety of the patent leather mudguard. Meanwhile, the smooth leather upper and tongue are white, as is the inner lining, and a strip of blue material has been used to host the branding effects across the center of the tongue. A black 23 has been printed onto the white heel tab and a miniature Columbia Blue Jumpman logo resides just below it in the middle of the heel overlay.

After this, fans of the Columbia were made to wait much longer for its next iteration. In fact, more than a decade passed and the colorway still hadn’t been rereleased. By this point, it had become tradition for a new Jordan 11 to come out during the holiday season, but each year Jordan Brand chose a different design. That is until December 2014, when the Air Jordan 11 Legend Blue came out. Despite the name change, this updated sneaker is faithful to the OG Columbia, returning to the blue-tinged outsole and the all-white leather upper that had secured its popularity from the start. It also has the familiar blue tongue patch and Jumpman embroidery, the color now known as Legend Blue to match the sneaker’s fitting new title.

Although the term Legend Blue has been carried over to each of the subsequent reboots of this colorway, the 2018 Cleats retained the Columbia moniker. Produced in both high- and low-top forms, this alternative sporting model has a molded white sole with blue studs and an all-white upper that brings together a patent leather mudguard with a ballistic mesh quarter panel and tongue. The branding patch sewn over the top of the foot is black, as is the inner, while the Jumpman and 23 on the heel are both coated in gentle blue tones.

The next Air Jordan 11 sneaker to carry the new name was the Jordan 11 Low Legend Blue. Released in 2021, this one has an icy blue translucent outsole with solid black pods in the toe and heel alongside the trademark carbon fiber plate, with its blue and black grid pattern and white Jumpman logo. Its white midsole once again turns to the reliable cushioning of Phylon foam and Nike Air, while the all-leather upper exhibits the same elegant white tones as its predecessors. A Legend Blue branding strip lies across the white mesh tongue, the number 23 appears in white on the black heel tab and a Legend Blue Jumpman silhouette has been embroidered into the heel. Since this low-top was launched 25 years after the first Columbia colorway came out, its black insole is adorned with a Jumpman and the number 25 in the same stylised font as that on the heel, both standing out in bright white against the dark background. Later that year, a tech-forward model known as the Jordan 11 Adapt was decorated in Legend Blue colors. This avant-garde AJ11 High is kitted out with a power lacing system that allows the wearer to alter the tightness and fit via a smartphone app or the buttons on the lateral midsole. The app can also be used to select the tones of these buttons so that the wearer can complement its gray and blue upper with their own personalized color scheme.

In 2022, yet another model received the appealing white and blue tones of the Columbia as the Jordan 11 CMFT Low Legend Blue was released. Its build is largely white, while its reworked upper brings together both patent and traditional leathers with translucent textiles and a webbed lacing system. The rubber outsole, which is a light shade of blue, has been carefully molded around the bottom of the Cushlon foam midsole, and other features, such as the breathable perforations along the flanks and the soft, pliable leather on the toe, augment the sneaker’s comfort-giving capabilities. Plush blue material fills out the inner, whose insole hosts a black Jumpman on the left foot and CMFT branding on the right. Another black Jumpman appears on the lateral heel, and a large white one shows up subtly against the similarly colored tongue.

The Jordan 11 Legend Blue is one of few colorways to have its name changed, but the switch from Columbia to this new moniker has had no effect on its popularity. Its elegant white and blue tones are still adored by sneaker fans to this day, and each release, whether a retro or an updated model, is met with masses of hype and praise. Although only worn by Michael Jordan during one basketball game, his stunning performance, which came at a key time in his career, imprinted itself upon the sneaker, making it one of the most in demand shoes around, even today.

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