"Black Cat" was a nickname given to Michael Jordan by childhood friends in his native Wilmington, North Carolina, unbeknownst to legendary Nike designer Tinker Hatfield, who found inspiration in the black panther while creating the Air Jordan 13 silhouette.
How's that for dramatic irony?
Coincidence aside, there's power in a name (or a nickname, in this case). For Jordan, the cat moniker–one he earned due to the uncanny resemblance between younger him and feline–was symbolic of his approach to playing the game of basketball.
Speed. Agility. Intensity. Body movement. Each mirrored how the jungle cat stalks, attacks, and eventually devours its prey, and Jordan's natural inclination to decimate opponents on the court.
Thanks to Hatfield, those sentiments where echoed on the Air Jordan 13, from the panther paw-inspired toe and sole to the dimpled paneling to the Jumpman hologram that mimics the panther’s eye.
Additionally, the AJ 13, weren't like most Air Jordan sneakers in the storied shoe line. Released during the 1997-98 season, His Airness' final year playing with the Chicago Bulls, the kicks took on a higher significance as marked the end of an era and had a supporting role in a handful of iconic on-court moments.
Air Jordan 13 Retro "Countdown Pack"
Style: 309259 104
Release: January 8, 2008
In 2008, Jordan Brand found a purpose to repurpose their revolutionary two-shoe pack idea (sparked by the 2006 DMP release) for the innovative rollout for the Jordan XX3. The result was the epic Air Jordan Countdown Pack (or Collezione), comprised of 11 releases, beginning with the Air Jordan 1 and Air Jordan 22. Each subsequent release paired an earlier, highly coveted silhouette with a later model and equaled the number 23 until the numbers met in the middle with an Air Jordan 11 and Air Jordan 12.
Here, we highlight this OG colorway of the Air Jordan 13, released alongside an iteration of the Air Jordan 10. It features a clean tumbled leather on the upper, which is colored in black on the toe and tongue, and white on the perforated side panels. Varsity Red accents on the tongue and outsole completes the Chicago Bulls-centric look. The holographic Jumpman logo on the ankle is the icing on the cake.
Air Jordan 13 Retro Premio "Bin23"
Style: 417212 601
Release: August 21, 2010
2010 was the year Jordan Brand introduced the Bin23 Collection, a pioneer in regards to reimagining classic Air Jordan sneakers with a lifestyle twist; the Air Jordan 2, Air Jordan 5, Air Jordan 7, Air Jordan 9, and Air Jordan 13 were the five classic silhouettes selected to bear the Bin 23 stamp.
The Air Jordan 13 Retro Premio "Bin23", the third release in the series, were limited to just 1,734 pairs. The Team Red and Desert Clay colorway immediately brings past retros like the Black/Chutney (1998) and "Wheat" (2005) version. White premium leather on the toe and tongue anchors the look, while side panels are covered in the red hue. A buttery suede lines the mudguard, midsole, and heel. The Premio logo is stamped on the tongue.
This particular Bin23 release sent sneaker connoisseurs stateside into a frenzy, because retailers in the UK and Canada received them early.
Air Jordan 13 Retro "French Blue"
Style: 414571 401
Release: November 26, 2010
The Air Jordan 13 "French Blue" made its long-awaited return with the first-ever retro's arrival for an epic Black Friday release in 2010. All of its beloved design remained in tact, which is important given how this colorway was a change agent for future sneakers to feature ballistic nylon.
French Blue appears on the dimpled side panels, covering the bulk of the shoe. The toe and tongue appear in white leather, with grey suede on the mudguard and midsole to offset the look.
Air Jordan 13 Retro "Altitude"
Release: December 11, 2010
The "Altitude" is among the most revered of any Air Jordan 13. Known for it's menacing black color base and Altitude Green accents, the shoe returned in 2010 with a few differences to the look.
The main glaring difference between this version and the beloved shoe from 2005 is in the ballistic mesh side panels, a substitution for the dimpled leather. The green on the 2010 "Altitude" is also slightly lighter in hue. The rest of the design stays true to its roots.
Air Jordan 13 Retro "2010 Release"
Style: 414571 101
Release: December 18, 2010
Taking it back to the beginning, Jordan Brand retros this often-nameless OG colorway of the Air Jordan 13. First released in 1998, the sneaker features a vibrant eye-catching Chicago Bulls-inspired colorway, with white primarily dominating a white tumbled leather upper. Red suede wraps the midsole and runs through the side panel and heel. A black outsole completes the shoe, along with the Jumpman hologram logo.
Air Jordan 13 Retro "Playoff"
Style: 414571 001
Release: February 26, 2011
Consider the "Playoff" tag on this Air Jordan 13 Retro a matter of semantics, as Michael Jordan actually debuted the shoe during the 1998 NBA All-Star Game–his final ASG as a Chicago Bull.
The 1997-98 season was Jordan's last with the Bulls, a year that his milestone performances meant that much more to fans as he prepared himself for a second try at retirement (of course, there would be a third). The Air Jordan 13 "Playoff" was his preferred colorway during his final NBA Championship run to complete another three-peat series of wins.
The color black dominates the model primarily constructed with premium tumbled leather. Matching black suede covers the mudguard and runs throughout the heel. Varsity Red and yellow accents cements MJ's affiliation with the Bulls, while a white midsole finishes things off.
Air Jordan 13 Retro "Ray Allen"
Style: 414571 125
Release: July 20, 2008
Walter Ray Allen was an original member of Team Jordan (signed as a rookie in 1997), an affiliation that granted him all sorts of player exclusive models of our favorite Air Jordan silhouettes during his 20 year career.
Here we highlight an Air Jordan 13 Retro created with Ray Ray in mind and released in 2008, one of the few PEs to ever hit retailers. The Boston Celtics-inspired sneaker, though less popular and rare than Allen's similarly themed Air Jordan 8, holds greater historical significance, as it was the model he wore when he broke the NBA all-time three-point record. Initially advertised as a release exclusive to House of Hoops in Boston and Miami's Sole Fly, this AJ 13 would be available at list of other shops, including CNCPTS and a few stores overseas.
The sneaker is simple in construction, featuring tumbled white leather with green suede covering the mudguard, heel, and midsole. Allen's signature can be seen on tongue.
Air Jordan 13 Retro "Bred"
Style: 414571 010
Release: January 12, 2013
As we all know, no Chicago Bulls era Air Jordan is complete without a proper "Bred" colorway. That said, the world saw the Air Jordan 13 Retro "Bred" return in 2013.
After seeing some clear discrepancies with predating AJ 13 retros, Jordan Brand was clear to leave this release untampered with. Ballistic mesh covers the dimpled side panels, while the toe features a clean tumbled leather in black. Where the aforementioned details keep the design grounded, the Varsity Red on the midsole, mudguard and heel provide a needed pop of color. The jewel on the ankle features Jumpman branding in a vibrant green.
Air Jordan 13 Retro "Squadron Blue"
Style: 414571 405
Release: February 9, 2013
For the most part, Air Jordan 13 Retro sneakers released during the late aughts/early 2010s were colorways that we've seen before. However, Jordan Brand opted to switch up the flow with the "Squadron Blue" look in 2013.
Here, the iconic silhouette is comprised of ballistic mesh, tumbled leather, and suede on the side panels, toe, and mudguard/midsole combo respectively. Each of the aforementioned parts are colored in Squadron Blue, offset by Electric Yellow accents on the tongue and outsole to complete the eclectic look.
Air Jordan 13 Retro "He Got Game"
Style: 309259 104
Release: March 16, 2013
Jake Shuttlesworth (iconically played by Denzel Washington in Spike Lee's 1998 film He Got Game) was given a cash stipend to survive during a one-week work release program from prison, where he was tasked with the mission of convincing his estranged son, top high school hoops prospect Jesus Shuttlesworth, to commit to the warden's alma mater Big State University. But this is less about the intricate plot (if that was a spoiler, shame on you; you're nearly 20 years late), and more about how the elder Shuttlesworth opted to spend the few coins he had. His grandest purchase: the brand new Air Jordan 13 for $139–$150 with tax.
Jordan Brand re-released the model in the iconic white, black and red colorway in 2013, and for the first time ever the sneaker was named after flick, despite being an OG colorway. Children of the '90s will associate this Air Jordan 13 with being Michael Jordan's preferred version during Chicago Bulls home games.
Air Jordan 13 Retro "Infrared 23"
Style: 696298 023
Release: October 4, 2014
Pivoting completely left during the creation of the Air Jordan 13 Retro "Infrared 23" led Jordan Brand to uncharted waters, as the shoe ditches the conventional looks for the iconic model in favor of something fresh and new.
Enter the catalyst for this slick remake: reflective 3M material. The upper is completely covered in it, accounting for the AJ 13's silver look. Black accents appear on the mudguard and midsole/heel combo. Infrared 23 on the outsole, "Jordan" label on the lace tag, and Jumpman branding on the tongue completes the design, earning this Air Jordan 13 Retro a nickname in the process.
Air Jordan 13 Retro "Baron"
Style: 414571 115
Release: October 25, 2014
Better late than never right? Jordan Brand first introduced the "Baron" collection, inspired by Michael Jordan's time playing Double-A baseball as a Birmingham Baron, summer 2014; the collection featured an Air Jordan 1 and Air Jordan 9.
Months later, the white, black, and grey color scheme would return via this Air Jordan 13 Retro, despite it having nothing to do with its namesake release. The iridescent strip on the heel and mudguard replaces the tradition suede seen on the paneling. The rest of the shoe sports a premium tumbled leather, appearing in white on the dimpled side panels and grey on the toe.
Air Jordan 13 Retro "Grey Toe"
Style: 414571 126
Release: November 15, 2014
Originally a sample from 1998, Jordan Brand first gave the Air Jordan 13 "Grey Toe" legs with a 2005 retro and once again with a 2014 release. Focusing on the latter, created with considerable differences from its predecessor, this shoe is an improvement for a myriad of reasons.
At the top of the list is the amended suede midsole, which features a similar True Red hue, but doesn't bleed onto the white outsole like the '05 version. The tongue is also a grey suede as opposed to a white leather.
Air Jordan 13 Retro "Dirty Bred"
Style: 414571 003
Release: December 13, 2014
Whether you refer to this Air Jordan 13 Retro as the "Dirty Bred" or "Gym Red" colorway, one thing's for certain: this sneaker resembles a pair Michael Jordan would have worn during his time as a Chicago Bulls superstar.
Representing the Windy City with a black and red colorway, the AJ 13 features simple construction: tumbled leather on the toe and dimpled side panel, and suede covering the mudguard and heel. The green jewel Jumpman logo completes the look.
Air Jordan 13 Retro Low Q54 "Quai54"
Style: 810551 050
Release: June 13, 2015
Poll a collective of Air Jordan enthusiasts on their thoughts concerning low top versions of classic silhouettes, and we're willing to bet the results would be polarizing (with exception to the Air Jordan 11).
Fortunately, the Air Jordan 13 Retro Low Q54 "Quai54" is a model to be argued for on the favorable side. Released in the 2015 Quai 54 collection, dedicated to the annual Quai 54 World Streetball Championship in Paris (an epic event of streetball legend), the shoe maintains details seen on past versions of the shoe. A combination of tumbled leather and premium mesh account for much of the upper's real estate, while the mudguard, midsole, and heel feature geometric patterns inspired by the blueprint for the Eiffel Tower.
Air Jordan 13 Retro Chris Paul PE "Home"
Style: 836405 305
Release: November 21, 2015
Chris Paul received his flowers while he could still smell them, as Jordan Brand released a PE Air Jordan 13 Retro to tribute to the point god's 10th year in the NBA.
Because Paul was drafted in 2005 by the New Orleans Pelicans, it only made sense to incorporate the team's color into the sneaker's design. The shoe above is the "Home" colorway, with the other being an away version. It features an all-white leather upper with hints of Orion Blue and Purple on the midsole/mudguard/heel unit, as well as the tongue and outsole. Chris Paul's logo appears clearly on the tongue.
Fun fact: CP3 actually wore this PE during his time with the Pelicans.
Air Jordan 13 Retro Chris Paul PE "Away"
Style: 836405 305
Release: November 21, 2015
Here we have the antithesis of the previously mentioned Air Jordan 13 Retro Chris Paul PE, the "Away" colorway. Released in a collection comprised of shoes and apparel to celebrate Chris Paul's 10th season in the NBA, this sneaker features a black leather and ballistic mesh base. Orion Blue and Sunstone colored accents provide the shoe with that vibrant New Orleans feel.
Air Jordan 13 Retro "Doernbecher"
Style: 836405 305
Release: November 21, 2015
The 2015 Nike Doernbecher collection included a version of the Air Jordan 13 that only a child could imagine.
Created by John Charles, then an 11-year-old patient battling Crohn's Disease at Oregon's Doernbecher hospital, the glossy patent leather upper is the first noticeable detail on this AJ 13. Snakeskin-embossed detailing runs throughout the upper, while Emerald Green paneling and Dynamic Pink on the outsole maintain the vibrant look.
Like any Doernbecher shoe, there's multiple homages to its creator throughout the look. That includes "Crohn's" written below the clear portions of the outsole, to say that Charles is stomping the disease. Other details include his soccer number, initials, and seven pills to signify the dosage of medicine he takes on a daily basis.
Air Jordan 13 Retro "Singles' Day"
Style: 888164 601
Release: November 11, 2016
Singles' Day is all of the rage in China, where it's celebrated annually by eligible bachelors and bachelorettes on November 11.
Jordan Brand unpacked the idea of Singles' Day into a stellar 2016 release coined the "What is Love?" Pack, featuring a men and women's option. The former is the more nuanced of the two, as its red upper and black accents are but a layer of the vibrant design, in which leather side paneling wears away over time to expose a "Panda Camo" graphic.
The women's shoe is clean with all leather construction in a Hyper Turquoise colorway. A white midsole breaks the monotony.
Air Jordan 13 Retro "Black Cat"
Style: 414571 011
Release: January 21, 2017
Given the Air Jordan 13's distinct connection with MJ's childhood nickname "Black Cat" and its design inspiration, it's surprising that it took this long for the silhouette to receive a namesake makeover. The AJ 13 Retro "Black Cat" is first version of the silhouette to release in 2017. It features a murdered-out all black colorway, cemented by premium suede throughout the greater part of the upper. The dimpled side paneling and laces are covered in reflective 3M material for a shiny gloss. The jewel Jumpman logo on the heel provides the lone pop of color, as it represents the eye of the panther.
Air Jordan 13 Retro OG
Style: 414571 122
Release: February 18, 2017
Link: Air Jordan 13 Retro OG
Jordan Brand brought back this classic original colorway of the Air Jordan 13 just in time for the NBA’s 2017 All-Star Weekend. Once again, the shoe is a clean Chicago Bulls-inspired combination of a white tumbled leather upper, red suede to cover the midsole, mudguard, and heel. The black outsole keeps the shoe grounded to complete the look along with the iconic Jumpman hologram logo.