After discussing where the Air Jordan 4 Cool Grey ranks amongst Jordan 4s on the podcast, it only makes sense we look back at some of the best colorways ever released. But first, let’s look back at its legacy.
The Air Jordan 4 is one of the most iconic sneakers ever created. Worn by Michal Jordan during the 1988-1989 NBA season, the Jordan 4 was first released in 4 colorways: Black Cement, White Cement, Fire Red, and Military Blue. The design of the AJ4 was handled by legendary footwear designer, Tinker Hatfield, who is known for designing legendary sneakers like the Nike Air Max 1, Air Trainer 1, and countless Air Jordan models.
For the AJ4, Tinker Hatfield took things in a new direction for the Air Jordan line by using mesh overlays on the side panels and over-sized pulla tab on the heel that allowed for an even bigger Nike Air logo than previous releases had. The Jordan 4 was the first (and only) of the Jordan signature sneakers to feature the iconic “Flight” script logo on the tongue, a logo that was also used on other shoes of the era, like the Flight 89 and Solo Flight. Although aesthetically it was quite different than any of the previous Air Jordan releases, it still featured the legendary Jumpman logo on the tongue, Nike Air logo on the back, and visible Air cushioning in the heel.
On the court, Michael Jordan debuted the Black Cement Jordan 4 at the 1989 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, Texas. MJ lit up the Western Conference All-Stars for 28 points and grabbed 5 steals, but his Eastern Conference squad would end up falling to the West, 143-134. During the 1989 NBA Playoffs, Michael Jordan would lead the Bulls into the post-season wearing the Air Jordan 4. On May 7, 1989, Michael Jordan scored 44 points and hit “The Shot” over Craig Ehlo of the Cleveland Cavaliers, which for many sneakerheads, became one of the first “I gotta have those” moments in sneaker history.
The Jordan 4 was popular in pop culture thanks to Spike Lee, who not only starred in the three commercials (below) but also included the Jordan 4 in his film, Do The Right Thing. On the advertising side, Nike used the now-famous “playground” photoshoot that featured MJ playing basketball with a number of young kids in front of a graffiti-covered wall to give the AJ4 an urban feel, which was used to create posters and the official catalog images for the AJ4.
The original retail price of the Air Jordan 4 in 1989 was $110. The first retros in 1999-2000 had a retail price of $100.
Below are some of the best Jordan 4 releases of all time…
Air Jordan 4 Black Cement
It’s hard to compare to the originals. The AJ4 in the “Playoffs” or Black Cement colorway, which will probably be nicknamed Bred at some point, is arguably the most iconic colorway of the fourth Jordan signature model. For those that were around to see Michael Jordan play for the Chicago Bulls, this colorway is loaded with nostalgia that will never go away.
Air Jordan 4 White Cement
Another original colorway that is a sneakerhead favorite is the White Cement AJ4. While there are less on-court memories of these, their appearance in Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, makes them as legendary as the man himself.
Air Jordan 4 Doerbecher Superman
The Doernbecher 4 was designed by Isaiah Scott and wears the iconic Superman “S” logo on the tongue with bright green “Kryptonite” accents over a primarily black upper. The design was inspired by Nate Robinson’s Kryptonate Foamposite Lite from the 2009 Dunk Contest and is considered by many as one of the best from the OHSU Doernbecher charity releases.
Air Jordan 4 Oregon Ducks
The Oregon Ducks have become the sneakerhead’s favorite college thanks to the countless exclusive sneakers that student-athletes have been gifted over the years. The Oregon AJ4 in black is just one of many to sport the Ducks’ green and yellow colors.
Air Jordan 4 Cool Grey
One of the best of the early retro releases, the Cool Grey 4 became somewhat of a cult-classic when it first released in 2004. 15 years later, it returned again to much anticipation from sneaker enthusiasts.
Air Jordan 4 Black Laser
Laser Print was all the rage in the mid-2000s and the AJ4 was the recipient of two colorways, a Fire Red, and a black version with red and grey. Despite the name “Laser” that has been applied to the 2018 black/gum colorway, it does not have a lasered upper like the 2005 releases did.
Air Jordan 4 Toro Bravo
The Toro Bravo Jordan 4 might be the best non-original colorway of the AJ4. The red upper could have easily been a release MJ played in, and when these dropped in 2013 they sold out fairly quickly.
Air Jordan 4 Cavs
When these AJ4s dropped in 2012, they were named the “Knicks” colorway by some and the “Cavs” colorway by others. Either way, despite the $160 retail price, they sold well and have become a favorite for collectors.
Air Jordan 4 Levi’s
Denim has been a popular material for sneakers over the years but Levi’s denim helped make this AJ4 that much more special. When these released in 2018, people went crazy distressing the denim and customize the shoes.
Air Jordan 4 Raptors
The Raptors nickname doesn’t really make sense to some people considering Toronto didn’t have a basketball team when MJ was lacing up the 4s. However, Toronto’s favorite export, Drake, added his signature to the tongue of this colorway, which added excitement, confusion, and money to the reseller’s pockets.
Air Jordan 4 Fear Pack
Released alongside a pair of Jordan 3s and Jordan 5s, the Fear Pack is one of the more popular retro colorways of the 4.
Air Jordan 4 KAWS
KAWS has become one of the most buzz-worthy artists of the past decade and his collaboration with Jordan Brand did not disappoint. The grey version was followed by a black version and at one time was selling for 4-5 times the original retail price.
Air Jordan 4 Undefeated
For many sneaker enthusiasts, the UNDFTD x AJ4 is the grail of all grails. This is one of the rarest pairs and basically introduced the olive and orange color combo to a new generation of sneakerheads.
Air Jordan 4 Wings
If there were a colorway that was even rarer than a Friends & Family pair, the Wings AJ4 is it. Gifted to James Whitner, Founder of Social Status, among others, the Wings 4 celebrates Whitner’s contributions to the youth through Jordan Brand’s Wings Scholars program.
Air Jordan 4 Wahlburgers
Mark Wahlberg is one of Jordan Brand’s close friends and to celebrate his family burger joint, Jordan hooked him up with exclusives featuring the Wahlburger logo on the tongue.
More to come…
If you enjoyed this post, check out these Michael Jordan Photos.
Nick Engvall is a sneaker enthusiast with nearly 15 years of experience in the footwear business. He has written for publications such as Complex, Sole Collector and Sneaker News. Helped companies like Eastbay, Finish Line, Foot Locker, and StockX better connect with their consumers. He’s an avid San Francisco Giants fan, Allen Iverson fan, and owns way too many sneakers for his own good.