The year of the Air Jordan 13 continues during NBA All-Star Weekend with the return of the classic Air Jordan 13 White/True Red that Michael Jordan wore during his final season as a member of the Chicago Bulls. While every pair Air Jordans during MJ’s prime is legendary in their own right, there are a handful that truly stand out and the 13 is part of that group that is just slightly above the pack with Tinker Hatfield giving it a personal touch (without even knowing it). Based off of Jordan’s “secret nickname” Black Cat, the Air Jordan 13 sit atop the list of favorite among many sneakerheads and NBA stars alike, as evidenced by what pair takes the top spot.
The Air Jordan 13 was worn by Michael Jordan throughout the 1997-98 NBA season, playing in what many thought would be his final season. The Air Jordan 13 has an interesting story and inspiration, but it was eventually overshadowed by the Air Jordan 14 that MJ debuted during the Finals.
Despite the unintentional snub, the 13 has a very unique look to it. From the podular outsole to the hologram emblem, the 13 definitely has its own swagger that other Jordans of the time couldn’t match. The hologram on the heel that reads 23 was a representation of the big cat’s eyes and intimidating stare. The pods that made up the outsole served as a cat paw, to show that MJ needed that grip and traction that a “black cat” like him needed.
13Air Jordan 13 Grey Toe
Worn by Jason Kidd during his stint with Jordan Brand, the Grey Toe shows off the versatility of the 13s as it’s really just a subtle change from the OG colorway, yet when it’s paired up with Kidd’s New Jersey Nets uniforms, it makes all the sense in the world and gives the classic a whole new look. While 2014 offers a slighlty different take on the shoe – it’s not grey toe and grey tongue – the spirit of the OG remains.. Underrated when they first dropped, that label doesn’t seem appropriate nowadays.
12Air Jordan 13 BIN 23
Before they were calling it “remastered,” they were calling it “Premio.” Using original or premium materials depending on what the marketing called for was a stroke of genius on Jordan Brand’s part as it allowed them to create a whole new lane that moved classic Air Jordans like the 13 and 7 into luxury territory. These really set the stage for many of the premium retros we see today like the PSNY x Air Jordan 12 or Don C’s many collaborations with the Air Jordan 2.
11Air Jordan 13 Low Chutney
Set to return this summer, the Air Jordan 13 Low Chutney is a time capsule to the simpler times of the late ’90s and early 2000s when wheat-colored boots were popular not just for function, but for style. Nearly 20 years later since they first dropped, it looks like Jordan Brand is waiting to see if lightning can strike twice.
10Air Jordan 13 CP3 (Home)
There are two versions of the Air Jordan 13 CP3 that dropped in 2015, but we’re going with the Asia-exclusive home version because they remind us more of the Charlotte Hornets days even though Chris Paul never played for the Hornets when they were in North Carolina. It’s rare for true player exclusives to ever release to the public so this was a real treat for the CP3 fans out there who longed for the chance to cop something that they might only see in his famous personal collection.
9Air Jordan 13 Black Cat
It took the public 20 years to finally own the shoe that really plays off the Black Cat name and it was worth the effort. Blackout kicks can be very hit or miss because they can easily be shrugged off as “nurse shoes”, but the subtle details in the 13 makes sure that isn’t the case here. This where the hologram badge of the shoe really pops in the right light, which we’re guessing is what Tinker was going for the whole time.
8Air Jordan 13 Low Quai 54
Released in conjunction with the Quai 54 streetball tournament in Paris, this was seemingly a Black Cat colorway before the actual Black Cat dropped, but the tournament-inspired graphic effect on the midsole area set them apart from all other 13s that have ever released. We applaud the sneakers that take the chance and do something new even if it doesn’t always work out; this one did work out.
7Air Jordan 13 Low Black/Metallic Silver/University Blue
A low-cut version of the Flint 13s sounds like a great idea, but instead of just doing exactly that, Jordan Brand changed up the color scheme just enough to have people wondering what these would look like in a high-cut style. We won’t call them “Reverse Flints” or anything crazy like that, but watch out for that name when these get an inevitable retro drop later this year or in the future.
6Air Jordan 13 Bred
The luster of this colorway took a hit when the 2013 retro and it did not have reflective hits on the overlay that many people loved about the OG and it’s the only reason this colorway is not cracking the Top 5. Nevertheless, they were still quite popular in 2013 and we fully expect the 2017 edition to also be a hard pair to find especially since reports about the shoe say that it will have 3M this time around.
5Air Jordan 13 White/True Red
When people think about the Air Jordan 13, these and the He Got Game are probably the two that come to mind the most because MJ wore them so prominently during the 1997-98 regular season, so the countless pictures and memes out there that sneakerheads have made feature these kicks. The cycle starts once again for these when they land on All-Star Weekend.
4Air Jordan 13 Flint
The Air Jordan 13 Flint is rumored to be dropping in September so let’s add fuel to the fire by declaring them one of the best Air Jordan 13s of all time. Much like the Air Jordan 13 Grey Toe added some depth and variance to what we expect out of the shoe, the Flint was an OG that stood out from the pack like other prominent blue Air Jordans like the Air Jordan 3 True Blue. It’s a favorite among legendary NBA shooting guards like Kobe Bryant and Richard Hamilton, so it earns its spot on this list quite easily.
3Air Jordan 13 Playoffs
The playoffs are where legends are made and MJ added to his legacy wearing these and the Breds during his final championship run in the 1998 NBA Playoffs. But it might be another sneaker superstar who will be remembered more for wearing these. Nate Robinson – playing for the Chicago Bulls, no less – had the game and series of his life taking on the Brooklyn Nets while rocking the Playoff 13s and putting on one of the great playoff performances in recent memory.
2Air Jordan 13 He Got Game
We are all Jake Shuttlesworth when we get a new pair of Js.
1Air Jordan 13 Ray Allen PE
Jay Z claims he did more for the Yankees hat than any New York Yankee ever did. Well, we’re going to put this out there and claim that Ray Allen and Denzel Washington did more for the Air Jordan 13 than Michael Jordan ever did. Of course, there would be no Yankee hat without the New York Yankees and there would be no Air Jordan 13 without the Black Cat (MJ, not the colorway), but in terms of recognition and cultural significance, Jakes Shuttlesworth wearing the 13s for almost the entire length of He Got Game – and it was a long movie – and Ray Allen setting the all-time record for 3-pointers made in a PE version of the 13s – setting the stage for Chris Paul’s 13 PEs years later – plays better. And quite honestly, green is a better look for the 13s than red ever was.