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Michael Jordan's "Last Dance" Air Jordans could break auction record

Posted at 10:15 AM, Mar 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-14 12:15:13-04

A pair of Air Jordans worn by Michael Jordan in his last championship run with the Chicago Bulls is set to break the record as the most expensive sneakers ever auctioned, Sotheby's said Tuesday.

The NBA legend wore the iconic Air Jordan 13s in Game 2 of the 1998 NBA Finals – Jordan's "Last Dance"and final season with the Bulls. In a news release, Sotheby's called the shoes an "important relic from the height of Jordan's career" and said they are among the "most illustrious pieces of sports memorabilia to exist."

The auction house said "the historic Air Jordans are the most valuable sneakers to ever appear on the auction market, and are poised to eclipse the current auction record for a pair of sneakers."

Bids for the sneakers will begin in April. They are expected to be sold for between $2 million and $4 million. The sale of the shoes could beat out Kanye West's Nike Air Yeezy 1s, which sold for $1.8 million, and Jordan's game-worn Nike Air Ships, which sold for $1.472 million in 2021.

The Air Jordan 13s – also known as the Bred Air Jordans as a shorthand for the black and red color scheme – were released in May 1998, right in the thick of Jordan's postseason run with the Bulls. According to Sotheby's, the sneakers were among the final public releases of the Air Jordan brand during his career with the Bulls.

After losing in Game 1 of the NBA Finals that year, Jordan wore the shoes in the second half of Game 2 and helped the Bulls beat the Utah Jazz at the Delta Center by scoring 37 points, Sotheby's said. Following the game, he gave the sneakers to a ball boy who maintained the visitors' locker room and signed them as thank you for his services, according to the auction house. Jordan and the Bulls won their sixth championship soon after.

Braham Wachter, Sotheby's head of streetwear and modern collectables, said in a statement that items from Jordan's basketball career continue to attract significant interest.

"Michael Jordan game-worn sports memorabilia has proven time-and-time again to be the most elite and coveted items on the market... Worn in his final year with the Bulls, the iconic Air Jordans coming to auction this April will be sure to excite the collector community and sports fans in this most important Jordan Year," said Wachter, who made a nod to Jordan's No. 23 jersey.

Last year, a jersey worn by Jordan during Game 1 of the 1998 Finals sold for $10.1 million.