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New Air Jordan 2011 hops into China on Tuesday to commemorate 'The Year of the Rabbit'

January 31, 2011 |  1:30 pm


The Air Jordan 2011 doesn't officially launch in the U.S. for almost three weeks, but a limited number with gold and red accent colors and special packaging will be available Tuesday -- and only in China.

The Lunar New Year officially begins Feb. 3, and the special kicks are a celebration of "The Year of the Rabbit" in the Chinese zodiac (Michael Jordan was born in 1963 -- another Rabbit year). The gray, red and gold colorway is meant to symbolize good luck and happiness -- which it certainly will for anyone who scores a pair. (If you don't happen to be in the People's Republic of China on Tuesday, your next chance will be Feb. 20. The same day the NBA All-Star game takes place at Staples Center, a handful of L.A. retailers are expected to to have them in stock.)

If you're just interested in checking out the Air Jordan 2011 -- and don't particularly care about the special colors or the box with the Chinese characters on it -- the 26th iteration of the iconic basketball shoe in white, black and gray hits retail nationwide on Feb. 19 and is expected to retail for $170.

According to the Nike folks, there are a couple of things that set this version apart: it's the first design to incorporate the use of hand-burnished leather, and it's the first to offer interchangeable midsoles -- a blue pair designed to maximize speed, and a red pair to help with "explosive power" (their words, not mine).

We're not sure what would happen if an athlete actually took to the court with a mixed pair of midsoles, but given the state of the Chinese zodiac, any gait that resembled a bunny hop would be wholly appropriate, no?

-- Adam Tschorn

Photos: The white, black and gray Air Jordan 2011 (left, $170) hits retail nationwide on Feb. 19. The special "Year of the Rabbit" version (right) goes on sale in China on Tuesday, and then at select L.A. retailers on Feb. 20 ($180). Credit: Nike, Inc.