A big part of what makes a sneaker great is the ability for people to enjoy them. Sure, there a slew of college PEs, samples and exclusives like the Marquette or Oregon 4s, or the duo of Eminem releases, but let’s be real, we’re never going to obtain any of those to actually enjoy. Plus, they have little to no impact on the actual culture.
So how can you rank something like that?
We didn’t. We kept it locked into official releases.
10. Air Jordan 4 “Fear Pack”
Possibly the best Jordan Pack outside of the CDP and DMPs, 2013’s Fear Pack used one of the most thought-provoking, self-questioning and eye-opening campaigns Jordan Brand has ever used as its inspiration. The “Become Legendary” campaign from 2008, became just that, legendary, because it turned our perceptions of Michael on its head.
“Look me in the eye. It’s OK if you’re scared. So am I” Michael says in the revealing clip. He goes on to tell us about his one true fear, a fear of failure, and not living up to our expectations became his motivation to succeed and surpass his and our expectations of him. One glance at the sneakers, let alone the TVC campaign, still gives me chills.
9. Air Jordan 4 Doernbecher
You can’t have a Best Air Jordan 4 list without including its Doernbecher counterpart, which still to this day remains a grail for most.
Designer Isaiah Scott wanted to express his battle with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with his creation. The overall Superman theme and iconic “S” on the tongue represent Isaiah being nicknamed Superman by his mom when he was going through his medical situation. Fittingly, the lime green features are a nod to Nate “Kryptonate” Robinson jumping over “Superman” Dwight Howard, during that year’s NBA Slam Dunk Competition. The icy blue outsole took this shoe from great to must have, and there is even a small facsimile of Scott “peeking” out on the back half of the sneaker.
A tough story but inspiring. And the result of young Isaiah’s journey should still be celebrated to this day — unlike this year’s cheapening of the Doernbecher collection.
8. KAWS x Air Jordan 4
Discounting the last pair on our list, this is the first true collaboration on the list, but Brian Donnelly’s duo of Air Jordan 4s were so damn good, we couldn’t split them up. Whether you’re a fan of the original Grey or the Family and Friends-cum-GR Black rendition, we can all agree that this was — and still is — one hell of a collab.
That suede finish is impeccable, the textured KAWS detailing breathtaking and the XX back tabs? Genius.
7. Air Jordan 4 “Cool Grey”
Long before the Grey KAWS hit the market, there was already one floating around that gained so much clout over it’s proceeding years post-release. And that is the Cool Grey Air Jordan 4. It too went for a softly finished upper, but it utilized the perfect balance of white and black in its design to keep such a plain colorway intriguing.
Then there are the perfectly placed pops of Varsity Maize.
Damn, I’m so glad these are returning in 2019.
6. Air Jordan 4 “Military Blue” OG
Finally, we’ve arrived at an OG colorway, and first off the bat is the Air Jordan 4 “Military Blue.” Let’s be clear, these are incredible, but the only reason they’re sitting at number 6 is that Mike never wore them on the court. An OG retro has been a long time coming, and we all got a little excited around rumors of a return in 2019. Unfortunately, it’s not happening, so we’ll have to wait it out a little bit longer.
5. Air Jordan 4 “Lightning”
No other non-OG, non-collaborative, non-PE/Sample Air Jordan 4 is more sought after than 2006’s “Lightning” Air Jordan 4. They’re still fetching upwards of $2k on the resale market — and rightfully so. Along with the Air Jordan 4 “Thunder,” these were an online-only release, with ultra-limited numbers. But it’s not just the exclusivity that puts these at number five on the list; the vibrant Yellow sneaker is executed to perfection, in one of the boldest colorways of the four to date. To rock them is a statement of clout, and to hoop in them like PJ Tucker above — you have to be out of your mind.
And to think that these were cheaper at retail than the Thunders. ?
4. Air Jordan 4 “Fire Red” OG
God do we need these back.
The third OG colorway of the Air Jordan 4 ditched the signature splatter effect of the initial white-based model, and just went with pure Chicago Bulls accent colors. And it’s still a hit. It’s been retro’d a handful of times, Lasered, Mars Blackmon’d, but it’s been a long-ass minute since we’ve seen that Nike Air booty — again, we’ll have to wait even longer, with rumors of an OG retro in 2019 quashed earlier this year.
3. Undefeated x Air Jordan 4
Look, we know we said we’d only stick to general and wider releases, but these are so important to the history of Jordan Brand. Undefeated was lucky enough to land some high-profile foot traffic instore, and from that notoriety, and a handful of long, long conversations, they got a Jordan collaboration. That was unheard of at the time, especially on a sacred silhouette like the Air Jordan 4. The OG colorways were as iconic as the silhouette itself, and Jordan Brand’s Retro+ releases had played it extremely safe during the early 2000s.
Undefeated took the Air Jordan 4 to a whole new level, giving the shoe an MA-1 jacket makeover with oiled olive suede and orange accents for visibility, a theme that has recurred on UNDFTD releases ever since, plus a Velcro tongue label in line with the inspiration. Only 72 pairs were made, most sold through raffles and charity auctions.
It opened the creative floodgates for Jordan Brand’s in-house designers, as well as giving the Jumpman faith in opening up the entire Jordan retro catalog for collaboration. The rest is history.
2. Air Jordan 4 “White/Cement” OG
“You stepped on my brand-new white Air Jordans that I just bought!”
The first pair of Air Jordans that made it onto the silver screen via Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing makes these an instant pop-culture icon. Of course, Mike did a lot of work in these on the hardwood, but today they’ve become a streetwear staple, literally matching with any outfit. The splatter effect was perfect for the period, and a perfect follow up to the elephant print seen on its sister sneaker the year prior. We would have had this number one, but there is just one other Jordan 4 that will never, ever lose its spot at the top of the list, no matter how dope white sneakers are.
1. Air Jordan 3 “Black/Cement” OG
Do you blame us?
We don’t even need to talk about the Black Cement Air Jordan 4 — the anticipation to year’s OG retro has built these up enough, so we’re just going to sit back and savor the days counting down to it’s May 5th release.