Michael Jordan's 1998 NBA Finals sneakers are all set to break all-time auction record

Michael Jordan - 1998
Michael Jordan - 1998 Copyright Getty Images
By Laiba Mubashar
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Nostalgia and celebrity sportwear make a compelling mix for collectors. Michael Jordan's 1998 NBA Finals sneakers are all set to become the most expensive shoes ever to be sold at an auction.

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Get ready sneakerheads and basketball fans alike, an iconic pair of sneakers worn by Michael Jordan himself are currently up for auction and are set to break an all-time record! 

Sotheby’s is selling the Nike sneakers, which MJ wore during Game 2 of the 1998 NBA Finals - his final season with the Chicago Bulls. 

It's no surprise that these kicks have already generated a ton of buzz, with fans and collectors vying for the chance to own a piece of basketball history.

The shoes, which many consider to be the most famous and recognisable basketball sneakers of all time, are estimated to fetch between €2 million and €4 million at auction. 

But, the bidding war has already started and the auction house has revealed that they've received an offer of $1.8 million (€1.65m), which is poised to break the all-time record for a pair of sneakers.

This isn't the first time that MJ’s merchandise has made headlines. In fact, a jersey worn by the basketball legend during Game 1 of the 1997 NBA Finals sold for a record-breaking €10 million in September 2022. 

However, these Air Jordan XIIIs hold a special place in basketball culture and MJ fandom. They were worn during what is now known as the "Last Dance" season, which was chronicled in the hit documentary series of the same name.

“The Last Dance” season

MARK J. TERRILL/AP
Utah Jazz's Shandon Anderson and Michael Jordan during Game 6 of the NBA Finals, June 14, 1998.MARK J. TERRILL/AP

The 1997-98 NBA season was MJ’s final with the Chicago Bulls, known famously these days as “The Last Dance” season after the smash-hit Emmy-winning ESPN and Netflix documentary of the same name which chronicles MJ’s career and the Chicago Bulls’ victory in the 1997-98 season.

On June 5th, 1998, the world tuned in to Game 2 to watch MJ battle in a must-win contest, after the Bulls found themselves trailing the series to the Utah Jazz following Game 1. The stakes were high because less than ten percent of teams that go 0-2 in the NBA Playoffs are able to recover from the deficit.

MJ went on to score 37 points leading the Bulls to beat the Utah Jazz 93-88 – while wearing these “Bred” Air Jordan XIII sneakers – on his way to his 6th NBA Championship and 6th MVP (Most Valuable Player) award.

The “Bred” (shorthand for “Black and Red”) Air Jordans were a classic style worn by MJ featuring the Bulls' iconic colors – from the inception of the Jordan Brand with the Air Ship and the Air Jordan I all the way until the Air Jordan XIII and XIV towards the end of his career with the Bulls.

The Air Jordans XIII 1998

Sotheby's
Michael Jordan 1998 NBA Finals ‘The Last Dance’ Game Worn and Signed Air Jordan XIIIsSotheby's

After the game, Jordan is said to have signed his sneakers and gifted them to the ball boy who maintained the visitors’ locker room. The sneakers featuring large silver signatures on each toe appeared for auction at Sotheby’s last month during "Jordan Year"  - a reference to MJ's iconic jersey number 23.

“This is the only complete pair of sneakers worn by Michael in an NBA Finals game, from any of Michael’s 6 NBA Finals series, that have ever been photo matched and authenticated by The MeiGray Group, the official authenticator of the NBA,” says the auction webpage.

The condition report at Sotheby’s states that the sneakers are in “pristine condition” and that interested bidders can contact Brahm Wachter, vice president of Sotheby’s and head of streetwear and modern collectibles, for a more detailed report.

In August 2020, Wachter enabled the record-breaking sale of MJ’s Air Jordan 1s from 1985 for $560,000, breaking the world record at the time for the most expensive sale of sneakers.

This world record was surpassed the next year by the $1.8 million (€1.65 million) “private sale” of the Nike Air Yeezy 1 Prototype worn by Kanye West at the 50th Grammys when Ye performed hit songs “Hey Momma” and “Stronger”.

According to speculators, MJ’s “The Last Dance game-worn” sneakers will smash not only Air Jordans's auction records but also Ye’s “Grammy-worn” Yeezys records.

Stay tuned till 11 April!

Video editor • Theo Farrant

Additional sources • Sotheby's

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