1989 was a big year for not only Michael Jordan but also for Nike. They tapped Tinker Hatfield again to lead the charge in designing the fourth installment of the Air Jordan series. The Air Jordan IV was the first Jordan shoe to be released to an international market. Like the AJ3, the AJ4 had four colorways that released in the initial run. White/Black/Cement, Black/Cement Grey, White/Military Blue, and another White/Fire Red/Black pair.
Chicago went 47-35 during the 1989 season. Jordan once again put up absurd numbers across the board including 32.5 points per game plus eight rebounds and eight assists per contest, both career season highs for MJ. Once again, MJ was chosen to play in the All-Star Game where he debuted the black/cement 4’s. He was First Team All-NBA and All-Defense and for the third consecutive year, he led the league in scoring. The Bulls finished fifth in the Central Divison which was still good enough for a sixth seed in the playoffs.
The playoffs brought out the best in Jordan in 1989. As the sixth seed, they would be facing Central Divison foes the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round. This would be the second year in a row the Bulls and Cavs met in the first round with Chicago winning in ’88. Cleveland had a remarkable 37-4 record on their home floor and with a better record, held home-court advantage for the five-game series. However, Chicago would win Game 1, with the winning team alternating every game, leading to a decisive Game 5. It was in the closing minutes of that Game 5 in which MJ hit “The Shot” over Cavs defender Craig Ehlo, giving the Bulls a win for the game and the series. The Bulls would make it to the Conference Finals against Detroit, the team that knocked them from the playoffs in ’88, but fell short to the eventual NBA Champs 4-2.
The Jordan 4 was seen in more places than just on the blacktop or an NBA floor. In 1989 Spike Lee released his third joint, Do The Right Thing. A film based on the rising racial tensions within a Brooklyn neighborhood, and is now to be considered to be one of the greatest films of all time. In the early scenes of the film a man with a bicycle bumps into one of the film’s main characters, Buggin Out, and scuffs his shoes. Those shoes were the white/cement Air Jordan 4. Lee also played a critical role in the marketing campaign behind the sneakers. Reviving his Mars Blackmon persona, Spike Lee and MJ would share the screen in a series of commercials, some of the most memorable in the brand’s history.