Bidding is underway for the shoes Michael Jordan wore when he played in the 1998 NBA Finals.
The auction house Sotheby’s is selling the iconic Nike sneakers, worn by the man many consider to be the world’s most famous living sportsman – even though he retired, for the final time, 20 years ago.
Jordan wore the shoes during Game 2 of the best of seven match-up against Utah Jazz and the pair are estimated to fetch between €2 million and €4 million, which would make them the most expensive trainers to be sold at an auction.
Although auction sales of MJ’s merchandise have always made headlines – the jersey worn by His Airness during Game 1 sold for a record €10 million in September 2022 – these notable Air Jordan XIIIs hold a special place in basketball culture and MJ fandom.
“The Last Dance” season
The 1997-98 NBA season was MJ’s final with the Chicago Bulls, known famously these days as “The Last Dance” season after the smash-hit Emmy-winning ESPN and Netflix documentary of the same name which chronicles MJ’s career and the Chicago Bulls’ victory in the 1997-98 season.
On June 5th, 1998, the world tuned in to Game 2 to watch MJ battle in a must-win contest, after the Bulls found themselves trailing the series to the Utah Jazz following Game 1. The stakes were high because less than ten percent of teams that go 0-2 in the NBA Playoffs are able to recover from the deficit.
MJ went on to score 37 points leading the Bulls to beat the Utah Jazz 93-88 – while wearing these “Bred” Air Jordan XIII sneakers – on his way to his 6th NBA Championship and 6th MVP (Most Valuable Player) award.
The “Bred” (shorthand for “Black and Red”) Air Jordans were a classic style worn by MJ featuring the Bulls’ iconic colors – from the inception of the Jordan Brand with the Air Ship and the Air Jordan I all the way until the Air Jordan XIII and XIV towards the end of his career with the Bulls.
The Air Jordans XIII 1998
After the game, Jordan is said to have signed his sneakers and gifted them to the ball boy who maintained the visitors’ locker room. The sneakers featuring large silver signatures on each toe appeared for auction at Sotheby’s last month during “Jordan Year” – a reference to MJ’s iconic jersey number 23.
“This is the only complete pair of sneakers worn by Michael in an NBA Finals game, from any of Michael’s 6 NBA Finals series, that have ever been photo matched and authenticated by The MeiGray Group, the official authenticator of the NBA,” says the auction webpage.
The condition report at Sotheby’s states that the sneakers are in “pristine condition” and that interested bidders can contact Brahm Wachter, vice president of Sotheby’s and head of streetwear and modern collectibles, for a more detailed report.
In August 2020, Wachter enabled the record-breaking sale of MJ’s Air Jordan 1s from 1985 for $560,000, breaking the world record at the time for the most expensive sale of sneakers.
This world record was surpassed the next year by the $1.8 million (€1.65 million) “private sale” of the Nike Air Yeezy 1 Prototype worn by Kanye West at the 50th Grammys when Ye performed hit songs “Hey Momma” and “Stronger”.
Currently, Air Jordans holds the record for the most expensive shoes “sold at an auction” – in 2021, the earliest known Michael Jordan Air Ships were sold for $1.47 million (€1.35 million) at Sotheby’s.
According to speculators, MJ’s “The Last Dance game-worn” sneakers will smash not only Air Jordans’s auction records but also Ye’s “Grammy-worn” Yeezys records.
Stay tuned till April 11!