On the heels of the Concord XI and the Chicago X comes tonight’s release of the White/Cement IV, suitably arriving on Michael Jordan‘s 49th birthday. The White Cements first saw the light of day â€“ appropriately â€“ 23 years ago, last hitting shelves in 1999 as one of the first significant retros, and have been in high demand on the secondary market since then.
Aesthetically, the White Cements remain striking and unique with soft-plastic covered mesh and elaborate lace loops. The speckled midsole is a darker shade of grey than the 1999 version, and the IVs are packaged in a retro-style box, always a nice touch. The big difference from 13 years ago is that the Jumpman insignia has replaced the “Nike Air” logo on the rear and sole of the sneaker, which has been the case for some time now.
The IVs debuted during a 1989 season in which Jordan averaged a fairly standard (for him) 32.5 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals. The sixth-seeded Bulls went to the East Finals and lost to the Pistons, two years before Chicago won it all for the first time. (Jordan wore IVs for one of his true signature moments â€“ The Shot over Craig Ehlo â€“ but they were Black/Cements.)
“I wanted the shoe to be lighter, with features no one had done before,” designer Tinker Hatfield said in the book Driven From Within. “It was a little bit more of a technical story, and a little less of a personality story, but that’s where Michael was at that time in his life. … He didn’t want this particular shoe to be too fashionable, because we had come out with the III with all the luxurious leather.
“This shoe was about getting back to work, being a little more utilitarian, while doing a couple things no one had done before. It reflected his state of mind. His mindset was about getting back to the basics.”
More so even than what they meant for Jordan on the court, however, the White Cements signified his (and his sneakers’) growing ubiquity as a cultural icon. This was in large part due to Spike Lee coming to view Jordan as his basketball muse, starting with his use of the original Air Jordans to great effect while playing Mars Blackmon in his first film, She’s Gotta Have It.
As Mars became synonymous with Jordan through Nike’s ad campaigns, Lee directed several memorable ads specifically for the IVs. He rapped in one â€“ “Yo Holmes, these sneakers be housing!” â€“ and explained what you can and can’t do in another. In a third, Mars’ love interest from SGHI, Nola Darling, took a liking to MJ…
“Word filtered back that Michael’s lovely wife, Juanita, was not enchanted by that particular spot,” Lee wrote in his book, Best Seat in the House. “She didn’t like it too tough, and it was quickly pulled.”
But in what they’re most known for, the White/Cement IVs themselves took on a whole new meaning in Lee’s controversial (and brilliant) film, Do The Right Thing.