Buggin’ Out’s Air Jordan 4s Get Scuffed – Do the Right Thing (1989)
Spike Lee’s magnum opus revolutionized the way hip-hop culture was presented on film and big part of that meant the fresh sneaker game of its characters. From Mookie’s Nike Air Trainer IIIs to Radio Raheem’s Nike Air Revolutions, there was plenty of great sneaker moments that could’ve easily been recognized on this list — but one is simply more iconic than the rest.
Who can forget the scene where Buggin’ Out finishes a conversation with Mookie and Vito only to have a dude walking his bicycle in a Larry Byrd jersey (in Brooklyn, mind you) step on his crispy pair of Air Jordan 4s. Every sneakerhead can immediately identify with the sheer agony Buggin’ Out feels as he looks down and sees a huge scuff on the right side of the toe box. To add insult to injury, his homie drops the death blow and yells “Yo man, your Jordans are fucked up!” right in his ear.
Marty McFly “Laces Up” Nike Mags – Back to the Future Part II (1989)
Young sneakerheads might see the Nike Mag today and just recognize is as one of the most expensive kicks on the resale market, but shout out to Marty McFly’s plug at Nike for hooking him up with a pair so he could navigate 2015 in style.
Sitting in the driver’s seat of the DeLorean, Marty puts on his pair of Mags and realizes that they come with power laces that lock in his foot for optimal fit. The Nike logo lighting up was also a nice touch that adds to the futuristic aesthetic of the sneaker that would eventually be released via lottery nearly 27 years after the film first released in theatres.
The Long Run – Forrest Gump (1994)
Perhaps one of the most slept-on sneaker moments in the movies came during the most critically acclaimed film on this list that won a Best Picture Oscar and a Best Actor Oscar for Tom Hanks. While the movie itself has very little to do with sneakers or style, one of the most pivotal moments of the film occurs in a legendary Nike sneaker.
Forrest shows off his athletic prowess in a pair of Nike Cortez as he starts running with no particular agenda in mind — he just goes. He runs to the end of the road, then the end of town, then the county, then the entire state of Alabama, then coast to coast “for no particular reason.” You could say the Nike Cortez helped Forrest pull off one of the greatest athletic feats in cinema history. Just saying.
Michael Jordan Finishes the Monstars in Air Jordan 11s – Space Jam (1996)
This one was an absolute no-brainer. Nineties babies worldwide remember when Michael Jordan became an unwilling member of the Tune Squad alongside Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck to face “Mean Team” themselves — the Monstars.
Fresh off a basketball retirement stint to pursue baseball, Michael laces up one of the slickest Air Jordan grails of all-time — the “Space Jam” 11s. The rest is simply history and Michael goes on to have one of his biggest games ever despite using cartoon physics to extend his arm for the game-winning dunk. Michael’s six rings are pretty impressive, but stuntin’ on Swackhammer and the Monstars remains one of his crowning achievements as a basketball player.
Jake Shuttlesworth Picks Up Fresh Pair of Air Jordan 13s – He Got Game (1998)
You knew another Spike Lee joint had to make this list, right? Not only did this film prove that Ray Allen could actually act, but Denzel Washington turns in a performance that is up there with his role in Training Day (in my humble opinion, of course). Turns out He Got Game is a basketball classic and a special film for sneakerheads who saw the glory of Jake Shuttlesworth’s kicks.
Jake rolls up to a sneaker shop in search of new shoes for ball and the employee helping him brings out a pair of the now classic “He Got Game” 13s. Despite a little bit of on-screen tension when the employee realizes Jake has an ankle monitor, the steal price of “150 with tax” is something you definitely won’t hear when trying to cop a pair on the current resale market.