Spring Premier Auction 2015


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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 4/26/2015
Michael Jordan is considered the greatest basketball player ever. Not only did he secure ten league scoring titles during his 17-year career, but he also lead his Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles while earning Finals MVP each time. The 6'6" shooting guard from North Carolina, who played his college ball at Chapel Hill under the great Dean Smith, was drafted #3 overall by the Bulls in 1984. After spending the summer in Los Angeles and helping USA win an Olympic gold medal, Jordan proceeded to take NBA Rookie of the Year honors in 1984-85, leading his Bulls in scoring with a ridiculous 28.2 points per game. This lot includes an extremely rare pair of Jordan’s game-worn Nike Air Ship shoes from his spectacular rookie campaign, and they come with excellent provenance and an amazing story from a former Los Angeles Laker ball boy. What makes these so incredibly rare is the fact that Jordan only wore Nike Air Ships the first 6-8 weeks of the season before transitioning full-time to Nike's first edition of Air Jordans — the sneakers that would change the market forever. By all accounts, these are the first (and perhaps the last) Michael Jordan "pre Air Jordan" Nike gamers ever to hit the hobby!

The Nike Air Ships come in white leather canvas with a red Swoosh and red upper heel, as well as red on the bottom of the soles. Backed by the Laker ball boy's account and signed statement, Jordan wore this pair for the Chicago Bull's December 2, 1984 contest vs. the host Los Angeles Lakers - his first career road game at the Great Western Forum against Magic and company. Aided by Jordan’s 20 points, the visiting Bulls pulled out a 113-112 victory to notch their 10th win of the season. The NBA was unable to locate any photos from that game in their archives. The found online is a black & white AP image (8412020128) of Jordan from his knees up, featured in a Time magazine issue. However, we recently received a copy of another black & white image from the 12/2/84 game of MJ gliding by his early nemesis Michael Cooper with the famous Air Ships clearly visible. Also, there are a couple short video clips from the game embedded below that show a glimpse of Jordan sporting the red and white kicks. CBS Channel 2 (Chicago) provided these when they featured the shoes on a recent news telecast in late March. Further photo research indicates that Jordan wore these shoes, or at least the same style, in a minimum of four games leading up that Forum contest: 10/26 vs. Bullets (his NBA debut, AP 8410260155); 11/19 vs. Pacers (photo attached); 11/21 @ Bucks (Getty 81419800); and 11/29 @ Suns (Getty 81347744). During this time, Jordan was breaking in his Air Jordan I's primarily in practice and warm-ups. Not until mid-late December of 1984 would Michael wear Air Jordans exclusively per his Nike contract.

Jordan was known to wear different sizes depending on comfort and fit. In this case, the left is size 13 and the right is size 13 1/2, which is consistent with MJ's size differential on most Air Jordan game-worn examples. Sizes are stamped in white just inside the red interior - same location as they are stamped on original (OG) Air Jordans. Serial number "4183156.4219945" and "Made in Korea" are noted on each tongue. There are unique stickers on the heel of the insoles indicating that, according to an expert, these were "Player Sample" versions Nike made specifically for Jordan and were not available for public consumption. Jordan has signed both of the shoes with his uniform "#23" inscribed on the outside ankle in blue ballpoint pen. "12-2-84" was later added in the ball boy's hand shortly thereafter. Each shoe displays excellent wear, slightly discolored to an off-white with creasing and a couple of red paint transfers from other players stepping on them during game action. The original white laces remain completely intact.

The shoes come with a detailed letter of authenticity from Lakers' ball boy, Khalid Ali, whose tenure has been verified by the team. He was gifted the shoes directly from Jordan in the visiting locker room after the game and witnessed Jordan sign them in person. The story is simply awesome. Jordan warmed up in Air Jordan I’s, and Ali, then 15, bravely asked if he could have them after the game. Jordan said sure, he could have his "game" pair, which turned out to be these Nike Air Ships. After the game, Ali sneaked into the visiting locker room where Jordan handed them over as promised. They have been stored away in the ball boy’s closet ever since. With such a small window, it is almost unfathomable that a Jordan game-worn pair like these would ever surface, and we have Khalid Ali to thank.

Also includes two LOAs from PSA/DNA, one for each signed shoe.

Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $5,000
Final prices include buyers premium.: $71,554
Number Bids:26
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