As a long time, Jordan Collector I was fortuned enough to receive a piece of Jordan Brand history today. Air Jordan sneakers have been around since 1984 back when Phil Knight took a chance on a soon to be superstar. It wasn’t until September 9, 1997, that Nike officially launched the “Brand Jordan” line, this would later change to Jordan Brand. The launch was done through a satellite conference from Niketown New York, where members of the press were invited. Shortly after the conference Michael Jordan did a live television interview with Rosie O’Donnell. Michael talked about appearing in Space Jam, his family, career, “LeRoy Smith”, the new Brand Jordan company and plenty more. Blackstreet came along with Jordan to model the new clothing line.
Jordan Brand unveiled its new apparel and sneaker lineup, team members and college programs were also included in the new deal. The announcement of the Air Jordan XIII with a price tag of $150 was the highlight of the conference, which would launch later 11/1/1997. This sneaker had been debuted in movies worn by Michael Jordan himself in Space Jam (1996) and He Got Game (1998), by Jordan Brand athlete Ray Allen. Spike Lee a well-known Jordan ambassador has been seen in various Jordan commercials as Mars Blackmon. The film He Got Game, written and directed by Spike Lee, include the newly released Air Jordan 13 in numerous scenes. The nickname stuck with the shoes as sneakerheads dubbed them the He Got Game 13’s. Other sneakers debuted were the Jumpman Pro Quick, Jumpman Pro Strong, Jordan Team and Air Jordan trainers. The prices ranged between $90-$110.
Ray Allen was not the only Jordan Brand member in the spotlight. Vin Baker, Michael Finley, Derek Anderson, and Eddie Jones were also founding Jordan Brand athletes signed on launch day. These athletes also appeared at the conference with similar oversized suits like Jordan. While seen wearing these various Jordan models, these players were also known for having exclusive player editions and some eventually got their own signature sneaker. Three college universities were included in the deal to be sponsored by Brand Jordan (Cincinnati, St. John’s, and North Carolina A&T).
Entering in to his sixth NBA season, Jordan had begun preparing for his future after basketball. Jordan did not think of this move as a 9-5 job for him because of his current involvement in product creation and development. “I have been involved in the design of everything I have worn from Nike since we begun our relationship in 1984. The launch of the Jordan brand is simply an extension of that process.” – Michael Jordan
I was gifted this promotional watch from the launch event. It has a two-toned gold and silver face with a red and black leather band inspired by the Air Jordan 13. The launch date (9-9-97) is printed on the watch face along with a red Jumpman, gold roman numerals and date dial. The back has Brand Jordan Launch inscribed.
Below you can see pictures of an original Air Jordan XIII from 1997 listed on eBay. Also, check sources for additional detailed information and videos.
Air Jordan 13 OG – He Got Game (1997)
Colorway: White/True Red-Black
Retail Price: $150
Release Date: 11/01/1997