Michael Jordan Game-Worn Sneakers Come to Auction Next Week

James Ardis
Published on

The Chicago Bulls appeared to be tough-luck losers entering the 1984 NBA draft. Their third overall pick in the draft put them out of contention for their first choice, center Akeem Olajuwon. Instead, they settled for Michael Jordan. “What can you do? Jordan isn’t going to turn this franchise around,” the Bulls’ then-general manager Rod Thorn said at the time.

Of course, Michael Jordan would do exactly that, leading the Bulls to six NBA championships. Many basketball fans recently found themselves reliving Jordan’s career thanks to The Last Dance, a miniseries produced by ESPN and Netflix that particularly focused on Jordan’s final year with the Bulls. Last week, Christie’s and New York sneaker store Stadium Goods announced that they would bring shoes worn throughout Jordan’s career to auction.

The online-only sale begins on July 30th and ends on August 13th, offering 11 lots in total. So far, Christie’s and Stadium Goods have announced three of the lots available.

Air Ship, MJ Player Exclusive, Game Worn Sneaker. Photo courtesy of Christie’s and Stadium Goods.
Air Ship, MJ Player Exclusive, Game Worn Sneaker. Photo courtesy of Christie’s and Stadium Goods.

In 1984, the rookie Michael Jordan joined a team that had won only 55 games in the previous two seasons. Despite many in the organization’s preference for Olajuwon in the draft, there were still high hopes placed upon Jordan. “I thought I would go [into the NBA] and be a flop,” said Jordan of the pressure. “Everyone was expecting so much [of me].” Nonetheless, Jordan reported to the Bulls’ preseason practice site, Angel Guardian Gym. The unconventional venue had previously housed Chicago’s largest orphanage.

Coming to auction as part of the Christie’s and Stadium Goods event is a pair of sneakers worn by Jordan during the 1984 preseason and some of the first regular season games of his rookie year (USD 350,000 to $550,000). Jordan wore the Nike Air Ship shoes before the release of the Air Jordan 1 later that season. Christie’s notes that Jordan only wore the Air Ship during this brief period of his career, making game-worn examples more difficult to find. This pair comes to auction from a former equipment manager of the New Jersey Nets.

Signed “Dream Team” Sports Illustrated cover. Photo by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA).
Signed “Dream Team” Sports Illustrated cover. Photo by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA).

By the summer of 1992, Michael Jordan had already led the Bulls to two NBA championships, having also secured for himself three Most Valuable Player awards and two Finals MVP awards in the process. That summer, he would also be part of the USA’s Olympic men’s basketball team. Together, the group that both fans and media outlets called the “Dream Team” won the gold medal. The team included not only Michael Jordan but also Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, and other future NBA hall of famers.

Air Jordan 7 “Olympic,” Player Exclusive, Game Worn Sneaker. Photo courtesy of Christie’s and Stadium Goods.
Air Jordan 7 “Olympic,” Player Exclusive, Game Worn Sneaker. Photo courtesy of Christie’s and Stadium Goods.

Representing Jordan’s contributions to the “Dream Team” is a pair of Air Jordan 7s worn during the gold medal game against Croatia ($50,000 to $70,000). Jordan scored 22 points for Team USA in that game on their way to victory. These shoes, as well as a t-shirt worn by Magic Johnson, were gifted to a receptionist at the Ambassador Hotel for running errands on the team’s behalf.

Air Jordan 14 “Chicago,” Player Exclusive, Practice Worn Sneaker. Photo from Christie’s and Stadium Goods.
Air Jordan 14 “Chicago,” Player Exclusive, Practice Worn Sneaker. Photo from Christie’s and Stadium Goods.

1998 would be Jordan’s final year with the Chicago Bulls. Coming from this part of his career is a pair of “Chicago” Jordan 14s ($6,000 to $8,000). Jordan wore these sneakers during practice between games in the 1998 NBA finals. They are also visible in footage used in ESPN and Netflix’s miniseries, The Last Dance.

Despite Jordan’s unprecedented success of six championships with the Chicago Bulls, he still laments that the team did not stay together for another run. “It’s maddening because I felt like we could have won seven,” says Jordan in the final episode of The Last Dance. “We may not have, but man, just to not be able to try, that’s something that I just can’t accept for whatever reason. I just can’t accept it.”

News regarding the upcoming auction of Jordan’s game-worn sneakers is still developing. Interested collectors can find more information on the three announced lots here and visit Christie’s website to find the latest.