1998 was a pivotal year for Michael Jordan, the world’s greatest basketball player of all time. The ’97-’98 season would be his final one as a Chicago Bull. He won his sixth and final championship that year over the Utah Jazz and was the League, All-Star, and Finals MVP. While all that was going on, Nike was busy establishing the foundation for Jordan’s next steps after his inevitable second retirement. This involved creating a distinct differentiation between Jordan Brand and Nike.

As a sub-brand of Nike, Jordan Brand’s aim was to be as pure, unique and authentic as Michael himself. The brand would use the Jumpman logo exclusively and made its official retail debut late in 1997. “I have been involved in the design of everything I have worn from Nike since we began our relationship in 1984. The launch of the Jordan Brand is simply an extension of that process,” said Jordan in a 1997 press release. “It is an exciting and challenging opportunity to express myself and connect with the next generation of players. I look forward to being involved in every step of this new venture.”