Christie’s expects this pair of Air Jordans to sell for as high as USD850,000 at auction. Here’s why.
On August 25, 1985, fresh off his first season with the Chicago Bulls and carrying NBA’s Rookie of the Year title, Michael Jordan was flown to Trieste, Italy to participate in a Nike-sponsored exhibition match between Italian Liga A’s teams Stefanel Trieste and Snaidero Caserta. He easily scored 30 points in the game, but one particular move will be remembered by those lucky enough to have witnessed it with their naked eyes: when ‘His Airness’ dunked so hard the glass backboard shattered into thousand pieces.
Thirty years later, Nike decided to commemorate the event with a limited-edition release of the iconic Air Jordan 1s he was wearing on that historic match—and the “Shattered Backboard” Air Jordan 1 quickly became one of the holiest of grails in the brand’s entire basketball line. The red pops on the body, the pristine white toe box were changed to orange to match the uniform Jordan was sporting, and the insole featured a special logo for the debut. Still, there’s no beating the OG.
That’s exactly why the original pair he was wearing is labelled as the top lot in “Original Air,” Christie’s and Stadium Goods’ collaborative footwear auction, with the final bid projected to go as high as USD850,000. It’s a slam dunk of a collector’s item, but a total of 11 pairs are up for sale, chronicling Michael Jordan’s career with the Chicago Bulls as well as highlighting other pivotal moments on the global stage.
“The pieces we’ve put together for this auction are truly unique,“ shares John McPheters, co-founder of Stadium Goods. “They have deep resonance for Jordan fans, sneaker connoisseurs and pop culture collectors alike.”
Other notable shoes in the landmark auction are some pre-Jordan Brand Nike Air Ships worn during his rookie season in 1984, the exact pair of Air Jordan 7 Olympics worn during the Dream Team’s gold medal game in 1992, and an extremely rare sample of Air Jordan 10 Cleats designed by Nike for Jordan’s retirement from basketball and his short but promising baseball career with the Birmingham Barons—we bet our own personal collections you guys didn’t even know he tried to conquer another sport.
Each pair in the “Original Air” sale is game-worn and signed by Michael Jordan himself, but the original “Shattered Backboard” is special. Not solely because it’s the only time Jordan ever performed the mind-blowing move but because there remains a shard of backboard glass still embedded in the left shoe. So really, it’s like getting a 2 for 1 deal in terms of basketball memorabilia.
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As we’ve seen with The Last Dance on Netflix, there’s still a lot of narratives in Jordan’s legacy that have yet to be uncovered, and a few lucky people will definitely be shelling out for a piece of history come auction time. Bidding starts July 30 and will run until August 13 on the Christie’s website. Portions of the proceeds will be donated to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.