Skip to content

A Brief History of The Air Jordan 13

    Air Jordan 13 history

    History of the Air Jordan 13

    The story behind each Jordan Brand model tends to border on mythical. In fact, a lot of these background stories almost seem like they are brought together after the sneaker is designed.

    But, if we put the cynicism aside, we can appreciate the craft that goes into the Jumpman’s process and we can see that precisely in the Air Jordan 13 history.

    air jordan 13 retro white

    Image Credit: Flight Club

    Whether true or not, the stories behind each Jordan sneaker is special in its own right. The Air Jordan 13 is certainly no exception to this rule.

    As it turns out, the 13 is one of the few projects that involve no initial meeting between Tinker and MJ. When watching him play, Hatfield saw Jordan as resembling a Black Panther.

    Specifically, the six-time NBA champion’s tendency to pick study his opponent and strike at just the right time. This is what goes on to inspire the main theme of the AJ 13.

    It is also what acts as inspiration for one of the most remarkable outsole patterns around. Designed for optimal traction, it was also stylistically based on a panther’s paw.

    The lateral sections also have their own story, sporting a quilted look that references Jordan’s love of cars.


    air jordan 13 retro black cat

    Image Credit: Nike

    Among the more interesting notes from the 13’s origins include the fact that, unbeknownst to Hatfield, MJ’s friend’s had always called him “Black Cat” in private. It’s this sort of coincidence that helps you start to understand why Tinker’s eye for design is so valuable.

    His inspirations and themes usually did an impressive job standing out while being universally translatable. In terms of technical design, the 13 is an ode to classical 90s sneaker design cues.

    The upper is an initially rigid mix of leather and synthetics, which you can break in with wear and time.

    AJ13: a new shoe for a new stage in Michael Jordan’s career

    The traction, again, presents some serious stopping power. This shoe comes about during a time when MJ’s knee issues start to creep up.

    As such, his game evolved to involve considerably more time dancing farther away from the basket. The 13’s outsole makes sure to accommodate this.

    Another design detail that complimented the aging legend was the surplus of Zoom cushioning from forefoot to heel. I could sit here and tell you that the Air Jordan 13 isn’t suitable for the court anymore. But, it’s really up to you.

    For the most part, this is still a solid candidate for on-court action. You can even find pairs in low-cuts this summer, though MJ wasn’t known to rock them much.

    Needless to say, you likely won’t be pulling off championship level moves to win an NBA title. But, hey, who knows?

    Discover more about Air Jordan.