Early Look at the Air Jordan 4 "Thunder"

Early Look at the Air Jordan 4 "Thunder"

A close look at the anticipated black-and-yellow Jordan 4 and the history behind the colourway.

You can’t have lightning without thunder. That goes for weather patterns and the sneaker game. After bringing back the Air Jordan 4 "Thunder" from 2006’s “Thunder & Lightning” pack in 2021, Jordan Brand is about to create the perfect storm of Air Jordan nostalgia when it releases the Jordan 4 “Thunder” next month. The return of the “Thunder” colourway is yet another big win for the Jordan 4, and a big win for sneaker collectors who remember how special the original “Thunder & Lightning” Jordan 4 collection was back in the day.

When the “Thunder & Lightning” collection debuted in 2006, it did so during a pivotal time in Jordan Brand’s history. Michael Jordan had retired from the NBA for a second and final time a few years earlier in 2003, and by the middle of the 2000s, Jordan Brand was beginning to explore new storytelling concepts that revealed more about Jordan’s life off the court. The “Thunder & Lightning” Jordan 4 did just that, as the black-and-yellow and yellow-and-black sneakers were an homage to the colours of MJ’s Jordan Motorsports club.

Instead of releasing just one Air Jordan 4 in colors inspired by Jordan’s motorcycle team, Jordan Brand decided to release a “pack,” which was that era’s equivalent of a modern sneaker collaboration. That wasn’t the only unconventional thing about the “Thunder & Lightning” pack. The other unique aspect of the release was that it was made available exclusively on Jumpman23.com, Jordan Brand’s former website. Both the “Thunder” and “Lightning” Jordan 4s were some of the highest-priced retro Air Jordan releases when they dropped in ‘06 due to their limited production (only 500 pairs of the original “Thunder” were said to be produced) and their accompanying apparel. An Air Jordan “Flight” Tee came bundled with the “Lightning” while a varsity jacket came with a purchase of the “Thunder.”

The new 2023 version won’t be the only time the Jordan 4 “Thunder” has been re-released. In 2012, Jordan Brand brought back the sneaker as a special holiday release in slightly more units than were originally produced. The third release was rumoured to be in the works a few years after that, but it was ultimately scrapped without any explanation from Jordan Brand. Instead, Jordan Brand pivoted by giving us the Air Jordan 4 “Lightning’s” first-ever solo release in August 2021, and then followed up that with the Air Jordan 4 "Red Thunder" in 2022, trading the OG Thunder’s yellow accents for vibrant red.

After a retro release in 2012 and a red-based spin-off in 2022, the Jordan 4 “Thunder” is finally back in circulation. The new 2023 edition will feature the same black synthetic nubuck construction and same bold yellow accents as the OG shoe from the mid-aughts. What’s more, the new “Thunder” will be available in full family sizing.

Copping the Air Jordan 4 “Thunder” isn’t only an opportunity to own a piece of Jordan Brand’s history, but a chance to own a pretty sweet shoe that’ll look great the more you wear it. The only thing left to do is scour NikeTalk for some of that matching OG “Thunder & Lightning” gear.


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