Note From Juan: I’m not a fan of the Air Jordan 13. From the moment I first saw them on the feet of a classmate I had back in middle school, my mouth wanted to gag and I’ve been holding back ever since. After the excellence of the Air Jordan 11 and 12, the 13s were such a letdown for me and time has not healed the wound. With all that being said, I’m probably the worst person on staff to put together a list of the best Air Jordan 13s ever made. So to give the post some balance and because it seemed like a fun way to honor the only studio show on ESPN worth watching, we had the staff put together a list of the best 13s in the role of straight-laced Michael Wilbon while I chime in with snark and gimmickry a la Tony Kornheiser.
KoF: 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 sneaker was designed by Tinker Hatfield, who according to legend and Jordan Brand was influenced by a black panther. 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 panther needed.
The shoe has been brought back many times in the years since it first released and it has been well-received each time unless Jordan Brand screwed up on cosmetic details like the 3M upper or lack thereof on a particular model. We’re really doing this list to antagonize our boss.
Juan: My excitement for the Air Jordan 13 can be summed up with this GIF.
But regardless of how I feel about the Air Jordan 13, especially in light of today’s release of the, it would be irresponsible to not acknowledge that it has had quite the impact in the sneaker world. The 13 is on most people’s short list of the best Air Jordan silhouettes ever made and it has legitimate pop culture significance beyond the sneakerhead community.
So with that in mind here are our picks for the Top 13 Air Jordans That Aren’t So Bad (true story: that was the original title before I brought the staff in).
Editor’s Note: This list first ran on October 17, 2014
13. Air Jordan 13 He Got Game (Staff)
The “He Got Game” colorway may have the best name of any Jordan. As seen in the eponymous movie with Ray Allen and Denzel Washington, these shoes have become very popular in the years since. More people associate this shoe with that movie than they do Michael Jordan these days. This colorway is one of the most popular 13s we have ever seen, but not the best, at least in our opinion.