Summer Premier Auction 2020

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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 8/28/2020

Michael Jordan's incredible NBA career was just getting warmed up when the 1986-87 season tipped off on the first day of November. The Chicago Bulls opened against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden and young Mike was eager to start off his third season with a bang after missing 64 games the year prior with a broken foot. “His Airness” had wowed the basketball world six months earlier when he returned from his injury to erupt for 49 points and a playoff-record 63 in the Bulls’ first round loss to the eventual World Champion Boston Celtics. Once again, MJ did not disappoint, going off for 50 points (15-31 FG, 20-22 FT) in a 108-103 Bulls win and letting the league know that #23 at 23 years of age was already the best player in the world.

The Bulls played at MSG three times that season, losing by one point on Christmas before beating the Knicks by four on Valentine’s Day as Jordan tallied 30 and 33 points, respectively. According to our consignor, who served as the Knicks’ visiting team ball boy that year, MJ wore this pair of Air Jordan II shoes for one of those three games and he is “95% confident” they are from opening night. There is video footage of him working that game and watching the action from behind the basket (see 31-minute game highlight below).

This second edition of Nike’s Air Jordan brand was highly coveted when it was released to the public in 1986 coming off the huge success of the AJ-1’s. Designed by Bruce Kilgore, a pioneer in the early development of Nike basketball footwear, the white-bodied sneakers came in two colorways – either black or red accents – and featured a full length Nike Air cushioned mid-sole. This was both revolutionary and costly in the long run. While it was one of the first basketball shoes with a soft mid-sole from heel to toe rather than the more traditional rubber cup soles, the material Nike used to support the base was not durable unless preserved to perfection with no handling in a temperature-controlled environment. Our consignor had no way of knowing this – apparently neither did Nike – when he received Michael’s game-worn pair as a gift. So, naturally, he stored them in his closet and over time the soles and heels began to slowly deteriorate, forcing him to reinforce the bottoms with new black outsoles.

No size is listed on the AJ-2’s but these shoes measure out to Jordan’s standard size 13. The appropriate "Made in Italy" flag tags hang inside the tongues, with the old-school Air Jordan logo stamped on the outer tongues in red. Most of the red and white plastic material around the back heels has fallen apart, but all of these pieces have been retained in a baggie for potential restoration. The black laces appear to be the originals, but the insoles have been removed (MJ wore a custom orthotics following the foot injury.) Photographs and video footage of Jordan’s 50-point game are sparse, but we did find a decent black-and-white shot of MJ in a 11/2/86 NY Daily News article (“Jordan’s 50 Bomb Knicks”) that appears to be a style-match to these white/black colorways. Whether or not this is the opening night pair cannot be confirmed with 100% certainty. In any case, His Airness wore them during a 1986-87 season that saw him claim his first scoring title with a 37.1 average that turned out to be the highest of his career. He played in all 82 games and led the Bulls to the playoffs where they were again bounced by the Celtics.

Ball boy provenance has proven to be among the most credible means of authentication for Jordan gamers. Michael signed both shoes for our consignor on the upper ankles in black ballpoint pen that has faded over time but is still very legible. Serving as the Knicks ball boy starting in the mid-1980’s, he had the privilege of working for all the road teams that came to the Garden, giving him unique access to some of the NBA’s biggest stars. His collection is well-represented in this auction. Comes with a letter of provenance from the former Knicks ball boy (not posted online due to his privacy request, but rest assured the original will be included). Full LOAs from Beckett for each shoe (autographs).

Bidding
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $3,000
Final prices include buyers premium.: $5,800
Number Bids: 6
Auction closed on Friday, August 28, 2020.
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