A quarter century ago, iconic sports moments garnered nicknames more often than sneakers. Writing this post as a 26 year old, I was still in the stroller when “The Shot” took place. Thanks to Gatorade commercials and YouTube clips, myself and many younger fans have got a chance to see this moment in motion so many times that we could probably repeat the sequence.
Running away from a double team that eventually turned into a crowd of three, Michael Jordan caught an inbound pass on the wing, darted to the left and pulled up on the go for a freeze-frame jumper. The result? Swish. MJ jumped in jubilation and let out a series of fist pumps while the Cavs roster and fans couldn’t believe what just took place. Chicago took the series while Michael quieted critics and added to his rich resume of clutch performances and big moment memories.
Anyone with a TV or a computer has surely seen “The Shot,” but anyone with a foot in the sneaker game remembers what he was wearing. The Air Jordan 4 Black/Varsity Red graced the feet of an airborne MJ, cementing the kicks, and the colorway, as a classic among footwear fans. Since its initial unveiling in 1989, this particular pair has returned to shelves three times to considerable fanfare.
While the “First Shot” and “Last Shot” bookend Michael Jordan’s career of game-winning jumpers, “The Shot” may be the most memorable. Not only did it come on a big stage, but it came at a time when Mike was still proving himself in the postseason and rising as a signature athlete. Jordan wore the team-issue Converse Pro Leather while downing the Hoyas as a Tar Heel in ’82 and the Air Jordan 14 while clinching his last ring in ’98, but the Air Jordan 4s worn against Cleveland still reign as the best regarded shoe of the bunch among sneakerheads.
The Air Jordan 4, Tinker Hatfield’s second design for MJ, picked up where the Air Jordan 3 left off. Sporting an ankle-high cut and visible Air in the heel, this model offered a new silhouette to the game of basketball. Shape aside, the shoe features rubber wings on the upper that provide lockdown and support to the model while also adding visual affect to the Air Jordan franchise. The Black/Red colorway popped with Michael Jordan’s white socks and serve as an early offering of MJ’s partiality to black based sneakers in the postseason.
While the Air Jordan 4 Black/Varsity Red gets most of its props these days off the court in retro lore, the shoe was made memorable by the man that made magic wearing them. After downing the Cavs via “The Shot” in the opening round, MJ and his Air Jordan 4s would stomp out the Knicks in the Conference Semis and take the Bad Boy Pistons to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Happy 25th birthday to “The Shot” and thanks for the memories, Mike, and Tinker, too.
Lead image via NBA.com.