The Air Jordan 11 “Cool Grey” Buyer’s Guide_Sole Says It All

Rumored a handful of times since last retroing in 2010, the Air Jordan 11 “Cool Grey” releases on December 11th in full family-sizing.


Although inherently compelling, the sneaker enjoys a rich history that has catapulted its importance and popularity to new heights over the last 20 years. Debuted in March 2001, the “Cool Grey” Jordans have been mistaken as an original colorway of Tinker Hatfield’s design from 1995. An instant hit, dozens of local media outlets across the U.S.A. reported on the pair’s in-store releases; the television channel, TLC, even investigated the growing consumer base seen after Michael Jordan’s second retirement from the NBA. As part of its “Buy-ology” series, the Discovery, Inc,-owned network filmed the “Cool Grey” 11 launch at NikeTown Chicago in 2001.

Vastly different from the Chicago Bulls-appropriate colorways seen throughout MJ’s first 10 signature sneakers, the greyscale style enjoyed #23’s co-sign on the hardwood. When an aging Jordan returned to the league with the Washington Wizards, he frequently wore the “Cool Grey” 11s, which complimented the team’s blue and white uniforms. Some Air Jordan drops from 2003 onward have experienced popularity that rivals those the legend wore on his way to his six NBA titles, but some purists discredit these pairs because “His Airness” didn’t play in them. The “Cool Grey” retro, however, disarms the criticism.

“Black” and “University Red” are synonymous with Air Jordans, but “Cool Grey” has been established as a signature color of Brand Jordan thanks to the 11s that released in early 2001. In the last 20 years, the muted tone has appeared on handfuls of other silhouettes from one of basketball’s greatest players of all time – including the Jordan 9 (2002), Jordan 4 (2004) and Jordan 3 (2006). Arguably no release has executed the greyscale colorway as well, however. In 2018, NIKE, Inc. introduced the Jordan 11 Low “Cool Grey” for the summer, which simultaneously satiated and increased the demand for a proper return of the originator.

The latest version of the 20-year-old AJ 11 delivers a “remastered” version of Tinker Hatfield’s ninth design for Michael Jordan. In comparison to the 2010 retro, the sneaker’s overall shape and height is much closer to 2001’s Cool Grey 11s. A neutral-colored nubuck still covers most of the upper, while glossy patent leather enters the mix by way of the iconic curved mudguard first seen 26 years ago. Laces and branding on the tongue, lateral heel and spine deviate from the all-grey arrangement in favor of stark “White” contrast. Underfoot a semi-translucent icy blue outsole arguably steals the spotlight, and addresses the yellowing that has plagued both pairs from 2001 and 2010.

Enjoy official images of the “Cool Grey” Jordan 11 in Men, Women, Grade School, Pre-School and Toddler (Crib) sizes here below. The shoes have surprise-dropped via Nike SNKRS twice in November via the “Exclusive Access” program, but their official release will take place on Saturday, December 11th, at the wider range of retailers listed below.

Elsewhere under the NIKE, Inc. umbrella, the Nike Air Max 1 celebrates its 35th anniversary throughout 2022.

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