In the 1997-1998 season, the Chicago Bulls did what no other team had in the NBA’s history: It successfully competed for and won a second successive string of three championships, making Michael Jordan and the Bulls the first organization to win two “three-peat” titles. For Jordan, this was the end of his career as a Chicago Bull and marked his arguably greatest moment in uniform with “The Shot” against the Utah Jazz to win his 6th championship. The Air Jordan XIII was a part of that legacy.
Designed from the physical aspects of a panther (as Michael was nicknamed the “Black Cat”), much of its performance also rivals the cat itself.
With the silhouette of the shoe set on itself on the outside part of the shoe, the XIII takes on smaller holes sewed into its leather and long, thin shoelaces to simulate the black panther’s long whiskers. The outsole was had the cat’s inspiration, as six large rubber pods on the bottom of the shoe (with an exceptionally good herringbone pattern for traction) simulated the animal’s paw print. A holographic button showing Jordan’s trademark Jumpman logo took on the reflective nature of the panther’s eye; a suede-covered midsole symbolized the panther’s soft coat of hair; and the initial and last colorways of the XIII were mostly black to draw nearer to the panther’s physical characteristics.
One of the lightest, most comfortable and most supportive Air Jordan models in its history, the XIII makes its mark felt by its technical features.
Fit is made a premium when the speed lacing system is hidden; the hidden eyelets were set near the inside of the lining of the shoe independently, so that when tightened, there would be great support to the inside and outside of the foot, in addition to the bridge of the foot.
Zoom Air and the Phylon midsole make the Jordan incredibly light, and in conjunction with the aforementioned outsole, give the wearer a greater feel of the floor underfoot. Full-grain leather on the toebox and additional leather silhouettes on the XIII make for an immediately comfortable shoe; an asymmetrical cut of the ankle also give the joint flexibility laterally while giving natural support medially, making the mid-cut of the Jordan feel like a low-cut because of the foot’s freedom to move, while it simultaneously provides the protection of a high-top sneaker.
For some people, anything marking 13 is a bad idea and a sign of horrible luck. If anything, MJ proved that his 13th shoe could aid him in earning a prestigious title, a fifth MVP trophy, and the chance to live forever in basketball history with a jump shot.