Michael Jordan retired from basketball more than a decade ago, but his signature sneakers are still outselling those of any active player today. In April, the most devout Jordan fans will have a chance to get his or her hands on an extremely rare pair of the athlete’s sneakers: an autographed pair Jordan wore during the 1984-85 season.
“These are very rare shoes indeed,” said SCP Auctions spokesman Dan Imler in a statement. “Jordan actually handed these to the attending Lakers’ ball boy after the game, and they have stayed in his possession for the past 31 years. Their provenance is flawless.”
Khalid Ali, the then-15-year-old Los Angeles Lakers’ ball boy, approached Jordan during the pre-game warm-up of the Dec. 2, 1984 match against the Lakers and asked him if he could have his sneakers.
“They were an intriguing multicolored blend for Nike shoes,” Ali said in a statement. “I had never seen a pair of Nike shoes with three colors before.”
But the sneakers Jordan wore pre-game were not the ones on his feet when game time arrived. The basketball star came out wearing a pair of white Nike Air sneakers with a red swoosh — the sneakers he would sign and give to the ball boy in the locker room after the game.
According to the auction company, Jordan wore this style of sneaker only during the early portion of his rookie season before switching to his signature shoe, and the pair being auctioned is considered the first-ever pre-Air Jordan gamers to hit the market.
The vetting process to verify the authenticity of the shoes was labor-intensive, according to Terry Melia, PR and marketing manager for SCP Auctions.
“We go online and through image and media archives to find pictures of Michael [Jordan] wearing, certainly, that style of shoe, if not the shoe itself,” Melia told Footwear News. “As we discovered through an exhaustive search, from about Oct. 26, , which was the first game of the season, through the early part of December, Michael was in fact wearing this style of Nike Air shoes. We’ve got plenty of photographs to back that up.”
But the vetting process didn’t stop with the photo search.
“Gary Vitti, who was then and still is the team trainer for the Lakers, gave us proof that Khalid Ali was actually the ball boy that season,” Melia said. “He certainly remembered him. He also remembered the moment when Ali was walking away with the shoes.”
Melia said that this pair of autographed, game-worn sneakers could potentially sell for more than $50,000. A pair of the superstar’s game-worn, autographed signature sneakers — worn later the same season — sold for $31,070 in 2013.
The two-and-a-half-week auction will take place online at scpauctions.com beginning April 8 and will end on April 25.