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Performance Teaser: Air Jordan IV (4) Retro Pt. 2


The Air Jordan IV has been a big surprise on-court and I have enjoyed nearly every aspect thus far.

As I stated in my last Performance Teaser, the AJ4 is the first Air Jordan that truly shows the evolution of performance footwear and where it was headed from the 90’s all the way until present day. The Air Jordan III was the first to truly push the envelope as far as design is concerned but these have taken the beautiful aesthetics and incorporated them to make a solid functioning piece of equipment.


The ventilation has made leaps and bounds within a few short years between the initial introductions of the Air Jordan beginning with the AJ1 thru the AJ3. At this point, the AJ3 is by far the worst offender of low ventilation but it made up for that with an incredible midfoot to heel lockdown fit.

With that being said, the AJ4 has removed the leather from the tongue and replaced it with plush padding and mesh for an unusual amount of air flow for its time. The side panels have also been removed and replaced with mesh… You can really get a feel for how innovative Tinker was as well as just how ahead of his time his ideas and designs were. It wasn’t until 1992 that the Nike Air Huarache was born yet you can see where he was headed as early as 1989.


The traction looks extremely impressive as herringbone was implemented in the Air Jordan line for the first time and on top of that it was implemented in a way that was sure to cover every step and possible movement a player could make. Honestly, it’s not quite as good as I initially thought but it’s still impressive nonetheless.

Surprisingly, the Air Jordan I-III offers overall better traction straight out of the box but with time the Air Jordan IV’s traction does break-in and offer enough traction for some of the harshest movements given that court conditions are superb… much like most of today’s sneakers. With dusty floors there is a lot of wiping needed but clean floors offer great traction. I find this interesting since you would think that a flat based traction surface such as the AJ2-3 wouldn’t offer much traction on dirty courts yet that is where they ended up excelling.


I still can’t get over how durable these are. They feel boot-like – similar to the AJ3 due to weight as they come in at just over a pound per shoe – but they can withstand some of the roughest beatings I’ve come across as of late. I’ve been stepped on more times than I can remember while playing in these – it’s as if people know I’m playing in my grails – yet they can handle the pressure when I thought they would have fallen apart by now.


When I started the Air Jordan Project my intentions were to see if today’s Retro models were playable with the way quality and construction have changed over the years. What I have come to realize is that I’m learning a lot about the evolution and progression in performance footwear therefore receiving a much greater understanding as to how and why things are the way they are currently. I was 5 years old when the Air Jordan IV was initially released… 23 years later and they are still a force to be reckoned with on-court.

Tinker Hatfield deserves to have a statue of himself outside of Nike HQ as his designs have not only withstood the test of time but have been proven – at this point – to be solid performers even by todays standards.

  1. nice to see how your enjoying reviewing your grails unlike the AJ 3’s and does this shoe have an improvement in the cushion department or are you saving that until the full review

  2. [it’s as if people know I’m playing in my grails ]
    Great to know these play well, so did you do an insole swap eventually?
    and did you use sneaker grip this time?

    1. No insole swap, i think my legs are getting used to the cushion level. I didnt used sneaker grip either since they were brand new but i might try it to see if it improves the grip at all.

  3. So the mesh paneling still works? I always hear complains of quality. Have you noticed changes that have really affected performance? Another point I want to bring up is Sportswear vs. Casualwear. Somebody told me the other day todays retros aren’t meant for playing basketball at all and should be restricted to casual wear only. What are your thoughts on that and did you think differently before actually playing in them?

    1. Yes, the mesh panels work. Its not as good as fuse but it works just fine.

      I used to always say that you are better off playing in newer shoes vs retros and that still stands up until a certain point in the retro line but they are 100% playable. Quality is fine, as i said they are durable. Leather isnt as soft as id like but once broken in its fine.

      Its not the shoes that make the player, its the player that makes the shoes.

  4. Good to hear that they are holding up well considering that you got stepped on a lot. It’s annoying when that happens a lot in a game, but that happens. lol

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