Michael Jordan rookie shoes sell for $1.47M, shattering record

A pair of game-worn shoes Michael Jordan donned during his rookie year sold for $1.47 million at auction on Sunday, shattering the previous record of $615,000 set by Jordan shoes last year.

Sotheby’s estimated the shoes would go for between $1 million and $1.5 million. Card collector Nick Fiorella put up the winning bid at $1.47M during the Sotheby’s Icons of Excellence & Haute Luxury auction in Las Vegas. 

Jordan wore the size 13 Nike Air Ship sneakers in his fifth NBA game on Nov. 1, 1984. He had 17 points, five rebounds and five assists in 33 minutes. The Chicago Bulls lost to the Denver Nuggets, 129-113. According to ESPN, photo-matching shoes he could have worn the shoes earlier than that as well. 

After the game, Jordan gave the sneakers to Nuggets ball boy Tommie Tim III Lewis, who kept them in “excellent” condition, per Sotheby’s. They are signed by six-time champion. 

Bruce Kilgore designed the “Air Ship,” the first basketball shoe worn by Jordan as a professional. They pre-date his signature “Air Jordan” line with Nike. It’s been reported that when Jordan entered the NBA, the Air Jordan 1s were not ready for him so Nike supplied him with the Air Ships. According to Sotheby’s, some had “Air Jordan” on the heels and others had “Nike Air,” but the “Air” is unusual on this pair.

The Hall of Famer’s chosen Air Ship colorways, shown in red here, were reportedly too colorful and violated the uniform clause. Nike built an infamous ad around the decision. 

The sale was more than double that of the previous record-holder, a pair of Air Jordan 1s that sold at a Christie’s auction last summer for $615,000. Jordan wore those during a preseason exhibition in Italy in 1985 when he shattered the backboard with a dunk. There was still a piece of glass in the sole of the left shoe. 

They are the most expensive sports shoe ever sold at auction and the second-highest shoe to ever sell. The prototype of Kanye West’s Nike Air Yeezy 1 shoe, which he wore at the 2008 Grammy’s, sold for $1.8 million at a Sotheby’s private sale this past April.

Chicago Bulls’ forward Michael Jordan dunks as the crowd takes photos during a game against the Portland Trail Blazers circa 1984-1998. (Focus on Sport via Getty Images)