The most devoted of Jordan obsessors believed that everything that there was to know about MJ was already known. That’s why the anticipation for ESPN’s “The Last Dance” has been swelling – because we’re all dying to dive deeper into the true myths that built up the GOAT’s legend. Despite his global status, Michael Jordan has always been on the more secretive end, only speaking and making experiences when it truly mattered. It’s this rarity that makes MJ’s vulnerability so fascinating.
While the documentary will focus on the entire Chicago Bulls and their championship run in the ’97-’98 season, Jordan will undoubtedly be the centerpiece. And while we too are desperate to learn more, we’d like to share a bit of our own input on “The Last Dance” – the shoes. Air Jordans have made a lasting impression on the legacy of Michael Jordan, and in the final season with the Bulls, it made its deepest marks as Michael branched off from Nike to form Jordan Brand.
When Michael Jordan first signed with Nike in 1984, the concept of the signature shoe was formed, introducing a brand new sneaker each and every season. That tradition persisted through MJ’s final season in Chicago as the Air Jordan 13, another Tinker Hatfield masterpiece, was introduced for the ’97-’98 campaign. Inspired by Michael Jordan’s alternate persona of the “Black Cat”, Tinker designed the midsole to look like a panther’s paw, while the jewel on the heel represented the fear-inducing stare of the cat’s eye. A total of seven Air Jordan 13s were available for retail – five “Mids” and two “Lows”, with all seven re-releasing on several occasions in following years.
Another regular option that Michael opted for was the White/Black/True Red/Pearl Grey colorway. These were given a variety of different nicknames such as the “Home” or simply the “Bulls”. Much later, these were dubbed the “Cherry”. This Air Jordan 13 most recently released in 2010 and is available on Stadium Goods and eBay.
A third colorway in a similar mix of Chicago colors emerged at the 1998 NBA All-Star Game. While sharing the common mix of Bulls hues, these were separated due to the yellow circle around the Jumpman logo on the tongue. This particular Air Jordan 13 stands out due to the epic nature of that All-Star Game much in part due to the duel between MJ and Kobe Bryant. This colorway was also favored by MJ for Home games throughout the Playoffs and was later blessed with that moniker. The Air Jordan 13 “Playoffs” most recently released in 2011 and are available on Stadium Goods and eBay.
For Jordan’s would-be final game at Madison Square Garden, MJ turned back the clock and wore an original pair of the Air Jordan 1. Jordan rarely ever wears his older footwear, but this night was rightfully special as the Knicks were a consistent foe throughout the dynasty era. This sneaker is considered to be one of the greatest Air Jordans of all-time and released to the public in true form back in 2015; it is available on Stadium Goods and eBay.
A fourth Air Jordan 13 colorway made regular appearances throughout the Playoffs. Dubbed the “Bred” (short for Black and Red), these had reflective 3M yarns embedded onto the upper which made the shoe light up when hit was camera flash. The “Breds” were on MJ’s feet during the NBA Finals, which is why many hold this particular colorway in higher esteem. Jordan Brand re-released these on several occasions, most recently in 2017. You can purchase now on Stadium Goods or eBay.
Two unreleased Air Jordan 13 Lows were utilized by MJ throughout the Playoffs. To this day, neither shoe has ever released to the public. In 2016, Jordan Brand released one that was awfully similar to the black/red/white sample, with the only difference appearing in the choice of gold on the heel logo. Photos of the other black/red sample, which was essentially a low-top version of the “Bred”, are extremely elusive. They looked so similar to the Mids that most viewers didn’t even notice the difference until it was uncovered years later on sneaker forum Niketalk. Photo via @demetriusdarmos.
Michael Jordan chose to debut his newest shoe, the Air Jordan 14, at the tail end of the NBA Finals. He made the switch at half-time during Game 5 of the NBA Finals, and wore the shoe throughout the clinching Game 6 and the unforgettable series-clinching crossover and jump-shot over Byron Russell. It’s arguable that these Air Jordan 14s, dubbed the “Last Shot”, began the trend of giving Air Jordans nicknames. The Air Jordan 14 “Last Shot” last released in 2018 is available on Stadium Goods and eBay.