Michael Jordan’s 13 Greatest Moments Wearing the Air Jordan 13

  • Game-saving three-pointer against San Antonio

    Without Pippen, the Bulls struggled out of the gate. They started just 8-7 and people were seriously getting worried, especially after Pippen got locked into a tussle with management and started telling close associates that he would never play for Chicago again.

    Jordan, as always, rose to the occasion, refusing to go down with the ship. First, he hit a clutch three-pointer to save a game at home against the Spurs, which you can see here. (Chicago would go on to win that one.) Then…

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  • Buzzer-beater against Atlanta

    …he beat the Hawks at home with a beautiful fallaway that rattled in to give the Bulls a two-point win. By that point in the season, Pippen was back in the fold, the Bulls had righted the ship, and no one was at all surprised to see Jordan hang 37 points on Atlanta.

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  • 49 points in L.A.

    This wasn’t even fair. If only Mike had some teammates to help him out. Still early on in the 1997-98 season, Jordan had to do it all himself, taking 38 shots and scoring 49 points and BARELY beating the awful Clippers in double-overtime. To put this into perspective, Chicago’s second-best player on this night was Luc Longley, who dropped 22 points and 17 boards.

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  • Kobe Bryant duel

    Jordan entered the ’98 All-Star Game assuming this would be his last time on center stage with all of the other greats in the NBA. Rocking an all-black version of the Jordan 13 that would later become known as the “Playoffs” because he consistently wore them during the NBA’s second season, Jordan got into a heated back-n-forth duel with his heir apparent, 19-year-old Kobe Bryant.

    Bryant came out checking MJ, looking like he had something to prove against the greatest player ever. Once he realized what was happening, however, Jordan stepped it up, won MVP, and outscored Kobe, 23-18.

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  • Talking trash with Barkley

    During one of Jordan’s final meetings with Charles Barkley, he hung 45 points on the Rockets during a Sunday afternoon nationally televised game. But the best part was undoubtedly the back-n-forth trash talk that was going on all day between the two good friends. Old school, classic stuff. You don’t really see this anymore. That’s sad.

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  • 44 points in New York

    Everyone remembers Jordan’s last game in Madison Square Garden with the Bulls. He pulled out the classic Air Jordan I and proceeded to kill New York despite getting blisters all over his feet. Too bad no one remembers this night from January of 1998. Jordan finished with 44 points in a one-point Chicago win, doing it all while wearing one of the most underrated Jordans ever: the white/red Jordan 13. They were so dope.

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  • Dunk over Armen Gilliam

    Gilliam wasn’t the greatest player and by the ’97-98 season, the power forward was a 6-9, Earthbound 33-year-old. But that doesn’t mean this move wasn’t impressive. Jordan was a 35-year-old playing in what was supposed to be his final year and yet still had the explosion to go right over the top in the lane.

    Maybe it was the shoes?

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  • Clinching Game 1 of the playoffs

    People forget, but the late-90s Nets were supposed to be the next big thing. They had talent. They had a great young coach in John Calipari. They even made the playoffs, showing they were more than just potential. (And SLAM put them on the cover of the magazine, saying that they’d win the NBA title by 2001.)

    Then they went into Chicago during the first game of the playoffs and took the Bulls to overtime. It was there that Jordan stripped Kerry Kittles, went coast-to-coast and dunked over Kendall Gill, plus the foul.

    It wasn’t really surprising.

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  • Shutting up B.J. Armstrong

    B.J. Armstrong had played on Jordan’s first three championship teams but yet never felt like he was fully appreciated by the Bulls. As a backup point guard in Charlotte during the ’97-98 season, however, the 6-2 guard got another crack at his former ‘mates.

    When the Hornets beat Chicago in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Armstrong celebrated like he’d won a championship. Jordan’s response? Three easy wins to end the series, while combining for 91 points.

    “I think B.J. kind of forget about us,” Jordan said after the series was over, “what drives us. We utilized the energy that he used at the end of Game 2 to our advantage, and we’re good at that so, he woke us up.”

    Message delivered.

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  • 5th NBA MVP award

    In 1997, Karl Malone stole the MVP right out from underneath Jordan’s chin. So the following year, MJ came back just as strong and defied the critics who said he couldn’t do it anymore.

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  • Game 7, Eastern Conference Finals

    The Indiana Pacers pushed the Bulls as far as anyone did during the team’s six-championship run. They jumped up by 12 in Game 7 of the ’98 Eastern Conference Finals, and held MJ to 9-for-25 shooting. He also went scoreless over the game’s final seven minutes. But Jordan’s will to win was just too much–assistant coach Frank Hamblen would later say, “This team, I truly believe, just refuses to lose.”

    It was all personified late when the 6-6 Jordan beat the 7-4 Rik Smits on a jump ball with Indiana up three in the fourth quarter, resulting in a Steve Kerr triple. That’s what the last title run was all about: doing whatever you could, even when you couldn’t shoot.

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  • Third straight NBA Finals MVP

    No, he didn’t finish the series in the Jordan 13, but MJ played much of the ’98 Finals in the black and red 13–he used them in Games 1 and 2–and the “Playoff” 13–he used them in Game 5. Chicago actually lost two of those three games in which Jordan laced up these bad boys, but his Game 2 clutch play, which included a pivotal three-point play, turned the series around for Chicago.

    It was his third consecutive Finals MVP trophy, something that only Shaquille O’Neal has matched. Too bad MJ did it twice en route to six titles.

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  • SLAM
    Magazine covers

    Mike and the Jordan 13 never looked so good as they did when SLAM put him on the cover of not one but two issues rocking the sneakers. The bred and “Playoff” 13 were two of the most classic pairs of that era, right along with the colorway from He Got Game, and yet Jordan somehow still always made them look better than normal.

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  • Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant
  • Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley
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  • SLAM

Michael Jordan might’ve worn the “Last Shot” Air Jordan 14 to beat Utah but in the majority of “The Last Dance,” the 1998 MVP was wearing the Air Jordan 13. Inspired by the black panther, featuring paw prints on the outsole and a distinct hologram meant to represent the cat’s eye, the shoe quickly became both a fan favorite and cultural icon thanks to co-signs from things like Spike Lee‘s He Got Game.

On the court, Jordan was as good as ever, leading the Bulls to 62 wins despite Scottie Pippen missing the season’s first 38 games. Jordan again led the league in scoring at 28.7 a game, while pulling off the trifecta of league MVP, All-Star MVP, and NBA Finals MVP. Then in the playoffs, Chicago overcame all challengers as Jordan added more highlights to his seemingly endless batch of them. (His overtime defensive play and dunk that beat New Jersey; his 41 points in Game 2 against Indiana; his big-play moments in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.)

This weekend, the 13 will return with a new retro that you can cop at Champs Sports. Already being labeled by sneakerheads and collectors as the “Barons” because virtually any Jordan release now sporting the old Birmingham colors of white, grey, and black always gets that treatment, this release also features a grey toe, and glossy patent leather where this sneaker traditionally sported suede. Add in the teal accenting on the Jumpman logo, the lace tag, and on the outsole, and you’ll see why collectors everywhere are so excited.

To get you ready for the release, embrace the shoe’s unparalleled history. Here are Michael Jordan’s 13 Greatest Moments Wearing the Air Jordan 13.

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