One of the greatest Jumpman releases of all time, the Air Jordan 4 originally took flight over All-Star Weekend in 1989. It was Michael Jordan's game-winning shot against the Cleveland Cavaliers that launched them into pop culture superstardom, as did that classic cameo in Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing (1989).
Equipped with Tinker Hatfield’s indelible ‘wings’, the storied model not only helped define a dominant era for Nike basketball, they also saw the sneaker game ascend to new heights. With the Air Jordan 4 ‘Thunder’ finally expected to strike earth next month, we decided to gather four fun (and crucial) AJ4 facts.
It’s gotta be the shoes!
‘The Shot’ – one of the most iconic moments from Michael Jordan’s eye-watering career saw the elimination of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the 1989 first-round NBA playoff series. Wearing the Air Jordan 4 ‘Black/Red’, His Airness created space over Craig Ehlo to hit the foul-line jumper right at the buzzer.
The pressure may have reached boiling point for the Chicago Bulls in Cleveland thanks to a best-of-five series being tied at 2-2, but Jordan closed it out with 44 points on 17-for-32 shooting.
After the game, Bulls coach Doug Collins revealed his simple instructions for the team with three seconds left: ‘Get the ball to Michael and everybody get the [expletive] out of the way!’
Tinker Unleashed Four Colourways in '89
Tinker Hatfield unleashed four colourways for the initial 1989 run, the ‘Fire Red’, ‘Black/Cement Grey’, ‘Off White/Military Blue’ and ’White/Black’, all scorching the shelves in February 1989 during that year's NBA All-Star Game in Houston.
There’s also still plenty of heat sitting in the vault, the unreleased Air Jordan 4 ‘Olive/Olive Suede’ and ‘Black/Red’ are no doubt burning holes in shoeboxes somewhere in the Jumpman archive!
Do The Right Thing (1989)
The Air Jordan 4 made an all-time appearance in Spike Lee’s scorching Do The Right Thing (1989).
As told during a hot summer's day in Brooklyn, Spike Lee’s masterpiece featured everything from the Air Jordan 4 ‘White Cement’, to the Nike Air Trainer 3 ‘Medicine Ball’, the Nike Air Revolution and the Nike Cortez.
Do the Right Thing is loaded with sneaker scenes, but it’s Buggin’ Out’s sweltering blow-up that takes the cake. Buggin’ Out (Giancarlo Esposito) confronts a passerby after his brand new Air Jordan 4 ‘Fire Red’ are scuffed by a bicycle, leading into a diatribe that spans street etiquette, Jordans and gentrification in Brooklyn.
In 2017, Nike debuted the limited edition Air Jordan 4 ‘Buggin’ Out' as a testament to the film’s enduring social and political legacy.
It's a Collaboration Haven
Virgil Abloh's Off-White, Eminem and Travis Scott are just a handful of the industry shakers who have taken to the Air Jordan's unique design vernacular, proving that it's the perfect canvas for collaborations.
The KAWS x Air Jordan 4 from 2017 is still a top pick for us at Sneaker Freaker, the glow-in-the-dark Grail stunting at any time of day. With the entire upper draped in premium grey suede (there’s no plastic accents here), it's emblazoned with signature ‘XX’ branding on the heel.
Unfortunately, the hype train was totally out of control for the 2017 drop, with many hacking the KAWS website, as well as police presence being required for the in-store raffle at Patta in London. The Eminem x Carhartt x Air Jordan 4 also packs plenty of attitude (recently worn on-court by drip god PJ Tucker), the three-way collaboration ranking as one of the most valuable Jordan 4s of all time!
Keen to read more about the Air Jordan 4? Make sure to check out our two-part list on the greatest AJ4 colourways of all time!