A pair of game-worn Michael Jordan sneakers from his rookie season sold for a record-breaking $1.472 million, shattering the previous record of $615,000 for the most expensive footwear ever.
A design that predates Air Jordan 1s
Jordan wore the sneakers in his fifth NBA game -- 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists against the Denver Nuggets -- as a replacement due to his first signature shoes, Air Jordan 1s, not being ready. In the meantime, Nike supplied the Bulls rookie with Air Ships, designed by sneaker icon Bruce Kilgore who later created Air Jordan IIs. This pair, sold to high-end card collector Nick Fiorella on Sunday during Sotheby's auction in Las Vegas, was signed by MJ and gifted to the Nuggets ball boy TJ Lewis who kept them in excellent condition.
"From the moment news broke of these sneakers, it generated huge buzz," Brahm Wachter, Vice President of Sotheby's, said. "This exceptional result for the Jordan Nike Air Ships speaks not only to the strength of the collectibles market but also to the esteem with which Michael Jordan's items and the Jordan franchise are held."
Along with other documents of authentication, the shoes are also accompanied by a letter from Resolution Photomatching, who notes a possible Photomatch to MJ's 3rd NBA game, indicating a possibility of Michael wearing this pair before the game against the Nuggets on 1st of November 1984.
New records, same cultural impact
The previous record for game-worn basketball sneakers was also a pair of Jordan's Michael wore in 1985 when he shattered a backboard in an exhibition game in Italy. The Air Jordan 1s, still with a piece of glass in the sole, sold at a Christie's auction in August 2020 for $615,000.
Now, different MJ shoes top the list of the most expensive basketball footwear ever. And it seems Air Jordans are a lock to top that list for a long time to come. That alone is a testament to the cultural impact Michael had and will continue to have, decades after his retirement.