A nearly 40-year-old pair of shoes was recently sold for just short of $1.5 million. But they weren’t just any shoes. They were worn by Michael Jordan during his rookie year in the NBA.
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The white and red Nike Air Ship high-tops are the earliest known regular season game-worn Nikes, NBC News reported.
The shoes predate Jordan’s iconic Air Jordan design which was given to the hall of fame after he agreed to sign with Nike. The “Air Jordan” nickname supposedly came from air present in Nike shoes, as well as Jordan’s ability to fly through the air to hit the basket.
When he started his rookie season, the Air Jordan 1 was not ready so he used Nike Air Ships either with “Air Jordan” or “Nike Air” printed on the heels. The pair auctioned had only “Air” on them, Sotheby’s said.
They are signed and came from Jordan’s fifth NBA game in 1984, according to Sotheby’s, the auction house that sold the sneakers. The game was on Nov. 1, 1984, according to Sotheby’s.
The shoes were the first to break the $1 million threshold, selling for $1.472 million Sunday as part of the “Icons of Excellence & Haute Luxury” auction, held in Las Vegas.
Card collector Nick Fiorella made the winning bid, Bloomberg reported.
The record had been set by Nike Air Jordan 1 High game-worn shoes, sold by Christie’s in August 2020, NBC News reported. A pair of “Grammy-Worn” Kanye West Nike Air Yeezy 1 Prototypes were sold in April for $1.8 million but it was a private sale.
The provenance of the shoes, according to Sotheby’s, was that they were gifted from Jordan to the owner, Tommie Tim III Lewis, the Denver Nuggets Ball Boy at the time of the game. The shoes also came with Lewis’ staff pass.
1980’s: CHICAGO GUARD MICHAEL JORDAN FLIES TO THE BASKET FOR A DUNK OVER LOS ANGELES GUARD MAGIC JOHNSON DURING THE BULLS GAME VERSUS THE BULLS AT THE GREAT WESTERN FORUM IN LOS ANGLELES, CALIFORNIA. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart/ALLSPORT
1988: Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls rests on the court during a game. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice: Copyright 2001 NBAE Mandatory Credit: Mike Powelll/Allsport
Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls of the Eastern Conference during game 1 of the National Basketball Association Finals game against the Los Angeles Lakers of the Western Conference on 2 June 1991 at the Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, United States. Visions of Sport. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Allsport/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CA – JUNE 12: Guard Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls sits nexts to his wife Juanita and his dad James while hugging the NBA Championship Trophy after the Bulls defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 4-1 after Game 5 of the NBA Finals on June 12, 1991 at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Ken Levine/Getty Images)
24 Apr 1992: Guard Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls takes a shot during a first round playoff game against the Miami Heat at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
6 OCT 1992: USA BASKETBALL TEAM MEMBERS MICHAEL JORDAN (MIDDLE) SCOTTIE PIPPEN (LEFT) AND CLIDE DREXLER (RIGHT) ACKNOWLEDGE THE CROWD AFTER RECEIVING THEIR GOLD MEDALAS MEMBERS OF THE DREAM TEAM DURING THE 1992 BARCELONA OLYMPICS IN BARCELONA, SPAIN. Man
21 Dec 1992: Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls dunks the ball during the game against the Miami Heat . Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel /Allsport
Chicago”s Michael Jordan rises above Cavaliers Larry Nance and John Wiliams during the Bulls” 91-84 victory in the second round of the 1993 NBA playoffs. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel/ALLSPORT
CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 7: Michael Jordan #45 of the Chicago White Sox bats during a spring training game against the Chicago Cubs on April 7, 1994 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
13 Mar 1996: Guard Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls shoots the ball during a game against the Washington Bullets at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls won the game 103-86.
19 May 1996: Guard Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls drives around forward Horace Grant of the Orlando Magic during the third quarter of game one of the Eastern Conference Championships at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls went on to be
29 Nov 1997: Guard Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls jumps to the basket during a game against the Washington Wizards at the US Airways Arena in Landover, Maryland. The Bulls won the game 88-83. Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger /Allsport
7 Jan 1998: Guard Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls in action against the Miami Heat during a game at the Miami Arena in Miami, Florida. The Heat defeated the Bulls 99-72. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons /Allsport
17 Feb 1998: Guard Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls goes up for two during a game against the Indiana Pacers. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 105-97. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel /Allsport
Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls dunks the ball during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Michael Johnson #23, shooting guard for the Chicago Bulls prepares to make a shot during a Central Division game in the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA) 1988 – 1989 season at Chicago Stadium, Chicago, United States. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Allsport/Getty Images)
1990 -1991: Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls goes up for a dunk during an NBA game against the Dallas Mavericks at Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Joe Patronite/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC – MAY 02: Michael Jordan watches a shot during the po-am at the Wachovia Championship at Quail Hollow Country Club on May 2, 2007 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
DETROIT – APRIL 06: Michael Jordan is announced as a member of the 2009 Hall-of-Fame class at halftime of the Michigan State Spartans and the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2009 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship game at Ford Field on April 6, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL – MARCH 12: Former player Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls addresses the crowd during a 20th anniversary recognition ceremony of the Bulls 1st NBA Championship in 1991 during half-time of a game bewteen the Bulls and the Utah Jazz at the United Center on March 12, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC – NOVEMBER 22: Michael Jordan, owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, reacts to a call as he sits on the bench during their game against the Phoenix Suns at Time Warner Cable Arena on November 22, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 22: U.S. President Barack Obama smiles up at National Basketball Association Hall of Fame member and legendary athlete Michael Jordan before awarding him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House November 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. Obama presented the medal to 19 living and two posthumous pioneers in science, sports, public service, human rights, politics and the arts. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 24: Michael Jordan speaks during The Celebration of Life for Kobe & Gianna Bryant at Staples Center on February 24, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)