Police were called to shopping centers in Indiana, Florida, Texas and Virginia among other states to control crowds of hundreds lining up for the shoes.
"I don't remember anything like this in the recent past at all, definitely not with the iPhone or anything like that, " Linda Jackson, a spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, told ABCNews.com.
"It was pretty much a surprise for us, " Jackson said. "I imagine the malls knew, but I don't know that they were prepared for the response."
Frantic shoppers even tried to break down a door at one of the Indiana malls.
"There was a door that was damaged, but I don't believe they were able to gain access, " Jackson said. "It sounded like these are the need-to-have item of the season, for some reason."
In Atlanta, at least four people were arrested in a mob scene at a suburban mall, according to the Associated Press. Twenty police cars responded and the crowd broke down a door to enter the mall before it opened.
Police had to smash the windows of a car to get two toddlers out after a woman had left them there to go buy the shoes. She was taken into custody when she returned, according to the AP.
Florida police used pepper spray on unruly shoe seekers and fights were reported in Kentucky; glass was shattered at stores in North Carolina.
Within hours, hundreds of pairs of the shoes were on sale on eBay, some for more than $500. Many of the pairs already had dozens of bidders.
"Tinker made it shine. Mike made it fly. You made it iconic, " Nike said in a statement. "Jordan 11s only come around once a year, so don't miss this highly anticipated release."
The shoes were widely released and are available at stores such as Foot Locker and Champs, in addition to Nike stores.