One of the first shoes that NBA legend Michael Jordan wore during his Rookie season in 1984 will go up for auction on Friday, October 8, and is expected to hit $1.5 million.
The red and white sneakers are not Air Jordan, but Nike Air Ships, the first regular shoes Nike made for Jordan in his first year, as quoted from UPI, Saturday (9/10/2021).
The shoe was worn in the game and signed by Jordan, and is the earliest known shoe to be worn by a basketball star during the 1984–85 regular season, an NBA first with the Chicago Bulls.
The shoes were worn by Jordan in only his fifth game in the league, on November 1, 1984, a game against the Denver Nuggets which the Bulls lost 129-113. At that time, Jordan scored 17 points in the game and shot 7 for 15 from the field.
That evening, Bulls head coach Kevin Loughery admitted Jordan was not playing well, according to a UPI report.
“Once we’ve been beaten by him, we’re going after him,” Denver guard Mike Evans said after that night’s game, before making a fairly accurate assessment of Jordan’s future in the League.
“No doubt he will be a great player after a few years.”
Sotheby’s ran the auction on Friday, and is expected to break the record for sneakers sold at auction for the well-worn 1985 Nike Air Jordan I, which sold for $615,000.
The new owner of the shoe was Tommie Tim III Lewis, a ball boy for the Nuggets in 1984 and received it from Jordan himself after the game.
It wasn’t until Jordan’s second season, 1985-86, that Nike gave him the first model in the Air Jordan line, now known as the Air Jordan I.
“The Nike Air ship was an important part of the origins of the Air Jordan brand,” Sotheby’s said in a statement.
“When Michael joined the NBA, the Air Jordan I was still not ready for him. He preferred sneakers that were lower to the ground, where he could feel the court under his feet.
“In the process of manufacturing the Air Jordan I, Nike supplied Jordans in limited quantities from Nike Air Ships, some of which had ‘Air Jordan’ or ‘Nike Air’ printed on the heel. This pair, featuring only ‘Air’ is an unusual example. “
Every season since 1985, Nike and Jordan have released a new version of the Air Jordan, even now when he is no longer playing. The newest model, the Air Jordan XXXVI, was released in August.