The only Michael Jordan player’s contract ever to surface in the open market will be up for grabs in front of a live audience of bidders next Thursday night in Cleveland. Heritage Auctions is selling the $33 million pact as part of its Platinum Night Sports Auction at the House of Blues.
The record-setting $33 million deal was signed in 1997. Auction bidding is already underway with a current high bid of $24,000. According to ESPN, the consignor bought the contract in a charity auction 14 years ago for less than $1,000.
“Like Jordan himself, this contract is absolutely without equal in the realm of sports memorabilia,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage. “After delivering on his $30 million contract for the 1996-97 season with his fifth NBA Championship for the Bulls, Jordan leveraged that success as a 10% percent salary bump to break his own record as the highest-paid figure in the sport's history.”
True to form, after signing the most lucrative contract in history, Jordan supplied the only acceptable return on that staggering investment: a sixth and final NBA title for the Windy City franchise he defined.
The copy of the contract up for bid is the team issue that was addressed from the NBA offices to the mastermind behind the greatest modern basketball dynasty, Irwin Mandel. Now in his forty-first and final year with the Bulls, Mandel is considered one of the most well-respected executives in professional sports, a man identified by former NBA Commissioner David Stern as “knowledgeable a person as there is on team finance and the management of the salary cap.”
Counting 26 pages in total – including the two-page cover letter to Mandel from the NBA – Jordan signed the contract on 11, along with Mandel, Bulls VP Jerry Krause, a witness and a notary public. Various covenants are initialed by the parties involved, with nine appearances of "MJ" in Jordan’s own hand.
“As the only Michael Jordan player's contract ever made available for public sale, and the most lucrative NBA contract bar none,” said Ivy, “this is a document that ranks among the most significant in the sport's archives.”