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    Air Jordan 4

    The year is 1989. The Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers are in the final moments of game five of the first round of the NBA playoffs. The Cavs are winning by a single point. Everyone in the crowd turns their attention to Michael Jordan – the one man who could turn it around for the Chicago Bulls. 

    Jordan makes space for himself, receives the ball, turns, jumps and then seems to hang in the air for a gravity-defying moment. The defender can’t stay with him. Jordan shoots and scores. If a shot goes down in history as “The Shot”, it must be something special. 

    The shoes that got him there? The Jordan IVs.

    Tinker Hatfield’s Jordan IVs owe a lot to his previous model, the Jordan IIIs, which saved the Jordan range from the cutting room floor. The IIIs had successfully captured Jordan’s on-court swagger and style, and Nike’s approach to the IVs followed the same principle. They shared a number of key features: the unmistakable Jumpman logo on the tongue and "Nike Air" emblazoned on the rear, alongside the “Air” in the front midsole and the heel, where it was visible through a small, transparent window.

    Hatfield made some subtle but significant departures from the III in order to improve how the shoe performed on the basketball court. A urethane net brought improved breathability and quirkiness through the mid-quarter, and a similarly styled mesh eyelet system made it possible for the wearer to change the lace position to fit their own style preference. The new rubber outsole featured chevron patterns and a textured toe section for optimum grip. Extra “Air” was added through the midsole, and a longer lasting synthetic leather, Durabuck, which had the further benefit of being lighter, was used for the upper. 

    The IVs were originally released in four tones, and a “Bred” colourway released later used luxurious nubuck leather, the first of its kind seen on an Air Jordan.

    The final masterstroke was to orient the “Air Jordan” text upside-down on the underside of the tongue, making it impossible to misread what the Air Jordan IVs were about when the player folded the tongue over.

    So confident were Nike in these aesthetic and technical changes that they released the Jordan IVs worldwide, something which they had never done with another Jordan model before. Spike Lee was instrumental in promoting the shoe, producing a TV ad that referred to Michael Jordan’s “The Shot” and featuring the Jordan IVs in his film Do The Right Thing. 

    While Jordan won the Bulls that game with his moment of genius, he couldn’t have known that the reputation of the Jordan IVs he was wearing would never be the same  again. From that moment forward, the Jordan IVs went beyond the court into pop culture, where they’ve remained ever since.

    Rank the Jordan 4

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