Nike Air CB4 II // Throwback Thursday

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Throw it down your throat like Barkley.

Today’s Nice Kicks’ Throwback Thursday returns to the latter part of the Nike in the ’90s era with a look at the final installment in the Nike Barkley signature line and the 1998 Nike Air CB4 II.

Everything was bigger in the ’90s. More Air, more Force, and more personality. This certainly was the philosophy and guiding metaphor of one of the biggest talents and personalities of the ’90s era, Sir Charles Barkley.

While Jordan was the darling of the NBA, Barkley served as the league’s anti-role model, the ultimate physical menace and a superb rebounder whose work ethic and larger-than-life personality was to be respected and appreciated. Barkley’s sneaker history is largely associated with iconic Nike models including the Air Force 180 Low, Air Force Max, Air Max2 CB, Air Force CB, and Air CB34; however, let’s not forget his kicksology particularly in the latter stages of his career, most notably the Air CB4 II.

The sequel to the CB4 line, Barkley wore the CB4 II during his tenure with the Houston Rockets throughout the second half of the 1997-98 NBA season. The silhouette paid tribute to the Nike Force line and infused its rich history and DNA with strong materials and high-quality construction coupled with excellent protection, the perfect sneaker to tolerate the rough and physical style of play under the rim.

The sneaker epitomized the very best in maximum Nike Air cushioning and featured a full-length visible Air Max unit including a dual-pressure chamber heel Air Max2 unit. As an added touch, the kicks also featured an updated silhouette of Sir Charles grabbing a rebound along with “CB4” written on the heel. The CB4 II released in two colorways: midnight navy/white-silver and a basic black/white makeup and largely flew under the radar in terms of aesthetics and visual appeal particularly when compared to other signature models which released that same year including the Air Jordan 14, Air Pippen II, and Air Penny IV, to name a few.

Nearly 20 years later, the CB4 II remains one of the most underappreciated and underrated models in the entire Barkley line, a model which to date has not seen a retro nor has received its proper respect due, until now. Barkley will be forever known for his anti-role model quote from the early ’90s, followed by his classic and comedic mid-90s Right Guard clear gel commercials and his memorable catch-phrase, “Anything less would be uncivilized.” Towards the end of his storied career, Barkley left his fans with yet another classic memorable quote, typical and characteristic of his style and charming personality: “Hey, all I want to do is win and anybody who doesn’t like that can just get out of the way.”

While Barkley ultimately fell short of his goal of winning an NBA Championship – his lone NBA Finals appearance came in 1993 against Jordan and the Bulls – old school NBA fans and sneaker enthusiasts undoubtedly agree that Barkley, at his core, possessed the heart of a champion and to this date remains as one of the top 50 NBA players of all-time, an athlete with arguably some of the most popular, iconic, and timeless laced creations ever produced by Nike.

Lace up your pair of CB4 IIs and maybe you’ll be able to throw it down your opponents’ throat, too.

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