Why The Air Jordan 34 Is A New Classic

By Ian Stonebrook

You don’t take flight in a tank.

It sounds simple and it is. To ascend to great heights, one must do so swiftly. Such is the case on the Air Jordan XXX4: a classic case study on reduction and one of the best received signature basketball shoes in recent years.

Endorsed by a young, exciting, international roster of Jordan Brand talent, the Air Jordan XXX4 dropped the stigma on modern Mikes by setting into simplicity. 

Introduced to the world by Zion Williamson in New York City on September 7, 2019, Jordan Brand made it clear they were investing in their future and by no means living in the past.

Ditching the weighty tech of the Air Jordan XXX3 and archival inspiration of the Air Jordan XXX2 and XXX1, the Air Jordan XXX4 proved sleek, futuristic and accessible. 

Unlike the avant garde shroud of the Air Jordan XX8 or Nike-leaning woven upper of the Air Jordan XX9 and Air Jordan XXX, the XXX4 maximized blank space with tooling that was entirely Jordan’s own. 

Introducing the Jordan Eclipse Plate, the XXX4 reimagined Zoom Air by carving out weight on the midsole to tilt the wearer onto a low-profile launch pad. By shaving down any excess material beneath the foot and on the surface, Jordan Brand created one of their lightest weight game shoes ever.

Because of all this, the Air Jordan XXX4 proved heavy in the game when it came to endorsement. 

Taking the UNITE theme to paralleled heights on the hardwood, Jordan Brand hoopers of various positions and prowess rocked the Air Jordan XXX4 often exclusively for the duration of a whole season and in some cases an entire calendar year.

Zion Williamson – the biggest name and athlete associated with the AJXXX4 – laced up inline and PE pairs over the course of his entire rookie campaign for New Orleans. Despite the slim nature of the XXX4 and broad power of Zion’s physique, the latest Jordan Brand shoe was worn in every single start for the rookie who averaged just shy of 23 points and 7 boards a night.

While Zion was bringing the boom to the Big Easy, summer signee Jayson Tatum was making the Air Jordan XXX4 his own in Beantown. 

Like Zion, Tatum rocked the Air Jordan XXX4 in every game he played over the course of the season after rotating various Nike models frequently in previous campaigns. The minimalist nature of the Air Jordan XXX4’s design made it a fresh canvas for storytelling player exclusives, ranging from Tatum’s taste for tacos to zoo trips with his son Deuce.

For an entire calendar year – September 2019 to September 2020 – the Air Jordan XXX4 has been everywhere but on clearance. 

Retailing at $180 and selling through with little discounting compared to signature sneakers from LeBron James, the Air Jordan flagship model showed more range and longevity than any of its performance peers. 

The fraternal approach of Jordan Brand royalty like Carmelo Anthony, the University of North Carolina and Earl Thomas popping up in AJXXX4 PEs provided the same family feel as the early days of Jordan Brand. On the flip side, the new narratives of Luka Doncic, Kia Nurse and Rui Hachimura associated with the AJXXX4 proved the family had widened.

Due to the expansion of the Jordan Brand roster in the summer of 2019 and the collegiate co-signs picked up over the last five years, there was seemingly never a night of televised basketball action when the Air Jordan XXX4 wasn’t in play. If Zion wasn’t blocking a shot into the stands in an Air Jordan XXX4 PE on Sportscenter then best believe Kemba Walker was cracking ESPN’s Top 10 in the same silo styled to his story. 

As alluded, it wasn’t just the pro level. The college game grew the Air Jordan XXX4 with men and women at Marquette, Michigan, Oklahoma, Georgetown, Florida and of course North Carolina were all treated to PE takes that the public would never touch and opponents wouldn’t dare wear. 

Just like the glory days of the Air Jordan franchise, the Air Jordan XXX4 was both visible and accessible but never in a way that made it forced or watered down. You could pick up a pair to hoop in when they dropped but finding your size now online is far from a guarantee. 

More dignified than its signature peers on the market but less aloof than the models that preceded it, the Air Jordan XXX4 is as good in September 2020 as it was when we first saw it in September 2019. PE pairs for Zion, Tatum, Hachimura and Guo Alin added new faces and new chases to the signature sneaker while lack of pandemic play has recreational ballers salivating at any chance to get their pair back on the hardwood.

In a market with eight-second attention spans and a vast gap between discount and resale, the Air Jordan XXX4 ascended the flagship franchise back into the space it always should have occupied: first class flight for those that truly love the game.

Photo by Jordan Brand
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Pool Photo via AP
Photo via University of Michigan Women’s Basketball Twitter

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