Jordan VP of Footwear Talks 'Black Cat' Design for MJ's Secret NBA Nickname

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 3, 2020

Former basketball superstar Michael Jordan speaks during a press conference ahead of NBA basketball game between Charlotte Hornets and Milwaukee Bucks in Paris, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus))
Thibault Camus)/Associated Press

By now, you've heard all of the nicknames. MJ. His Airness. The list goes on and on. But one nickname that stuck in NBA circles for a long period was "Black Cat" before it became publicly revealed as part of several Jordan Brand colorways over the years.

The first Jordan Brand sneaker to be inspired by the "Black Cat" was the Jordan 13, according to VP of footwear Gentry Humphrey.

"By the guys in the league, he was called the 'Black Cat,'" Humphrey told Nick DePaula of ESPN. "If you think about how he moved on the court, he was pretty relentless. Very smooth, stealthlike but could strike at any time. It was a pretty good analogy for a player that moved like that."

B/R Kicks @brkicks

.@masfresco wearing the “Black Cat” Air Jordan 13 tonight against the Clippers. https://t.co/23Q1wOG8om

The sneaker was built to have a paw-like structure and had a green Jordan Brand logo, which was supposed to represent the eyes of a panther.

"When he saw the board and heard me mention the words 'Black Cat,' he stopped me. He just stopped me dead and said, 'How did you know?'" Tinker Hatfield told Aaron Dodson of The Undefeated in 2017. "I'm like, 'How did I know what?' He goes, 'How do you know what my secret nickname is? It's only used by best friends.' I said, 'I didn't know anybody ever called you the Black Cat.'

"He connected with the idea, instantly," Hatfield said. "It meant something to him."

The "Black Cat" has continued over several releases and retro colorways over the years.