Michael Jordan’s Nike Air Jordan 13 Sneakers Just Sold For $3.3 Million
— 13 April 2023

Michael Jordan’s Nike Air Jordan 13 Sneakers Just Sold For $3.3 Million

— 13 April 2023

They have always been incredibly popular, but it’s hard to deny that Michael Jordan’s sneakers are currently having a massive cultural moment. Following the release of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s sports drama Air, as well as a series of Sotheby’s auctions surrounding the “Jordan Year” – a reference to MJ’s number 23 – it seems to be all anyone wants to talk about. Following yesterday’s sale of the pair of Nike Air Jordan 13s that were worn at the 1998 NBA Finals, Sotheby’s has absolutely smashed the previous auction record for a pair of sneakers sold.

The previous record was set at US$1.47 million (AU$1.95 million) in 2021 by collector Nick Fiorella, who purchased a pair of Michael Jordan’s game-worn Nike shoes from 1984 that pre-date his signature shoe line. The latest pair that were sold came in at a whopping US$2.2 million (AU$3.3 million), beating the auction house’s low estimate of US$2 million (AU$3 million) and falling short of its high estimate of US$4 million (AU$6 million).

There is some serious cool factor to these bad boys. It came from Game 2 of the 1998 NBA Finals, which was Michael Jordan’s Last Dance season with the Chicago Bulls. After falling down 1-0 in the series against the Utah Jazz, this game saw Jordan lead his team to a much-needed 93-88 victory with a game-high 37 points over 40 minutes. The environment of the Utah crowd was so hostile, the mother of Michael Jordan’s kids actually banned them from attending the game.

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After securing the win, Michael Jordan signed his shoes from the game and gave them to the ball boy responsible for the visitors’ locker room. The ball boy had helped Jordan find his lost jacket during an earlier practice, so Michael Jordan returned the favour by giving the kid a pair of shoes that would eventually be worth over $3 million, 25 years later.

In the present day, the Air Jordan 13 shoes that Sotheby’s just sold are in immaculate condition, with large silver signatures on each toe box without a single smudge. They are also the only pair of authenticated game-worn Michael Jordan sneakers from any of his 6 NBA Finals series or from any of his 1998 NBA postseason games.

This shoe is particularly controversial, too.

The “Bred” nickname for these Air Jordans is shorthand for “Black and Red” which matched the Chicago Bulls’ colours. The Breds were banned by the NBA due to the colours violating their strict uniform code and would result in a $5,000 per game fine for Jordan as a result. It became a deeply mythologised pair of sneakers – helped in large part due to their 1998 release amidst the Bulls’ postseason success – and Nike marketed them as rebellious: “Fortunately, the NBA can’t stop you from wearing them.” 

This particular pair was ultimately the last Nike Air Jordan 13 “Bred” shoes that Michael Jordan would ever wear, which undeniably added to its price tag at Sotheby’s. It’s quite possibly the single coolest pair of sneakers that someone could own.

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