A Utah Jazz ball boy who did Michael Jordan a big favor in 1993 when home fans booed the NBA superstar mercilessly for disparaging comments about Salt Lake City, came away with a pair of valuable game-worn Nikes. Now that pair of personally gifted shoes from a memorable moment in Jordan’s career are on the auction block.
Jordan’s game-worn Air Jordan VII ‘Cardinal’ sneakers are from the Chicago Bulls’ thrilling 96-92 road victory over the Jazz on Feb. 1, 1993. The scene inside the Delta Center was very tense that day, not just because it pitted two of the NBA’s top teams, but mainly because Jordan had recently made some comments about Salt Lake City as the host of the upcoming ’93 All-Star game. Jazz fans booed him vigorously every time he touched the ball. All that did was light a fire under the game’s best player. Jordan even made an incredible half-court shot to beat the first half buzzer, nodding to the crowd in a sarcastic show of thanks.
Chicago trailed by 20 points in the final seconds of the third quarter and were still down by 13 with six minutes left. That’s when “His Airness” took over, scoring 20 points himself in the final 8:45 and willing his team to the four-point victory. He finished with 37 points on 13-28 shooting and seven rebounds, overshadowing a 40-point effort from Jazz star Karl Malone.
Former Utah Jazz ball boy, Alex Rodriguez, who had befriended the superstar on previous trips to Utah, was working in the visitor’s locker room prior to the game and overheard Jordan asking about extra tickets to that night’s game.
He needed two extra tickets and not even the Utah Jazz ticket manager had any left,” recalls Rodriguez. “I sat next to Jordan and told him he could have my two tickets since the ball boys each received two to every game. He was very thankful and said he wanted to buy them from me. I told him, ‘No, you can just have them.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Okay, then you can have my shoes after the game.’”
When the game ended, Jordan was swarmed in the visiting locker room. “You couldn’t even see him what with all of the reporters. Suddenly he just stood up and called over to me. He asked the reporters to move and it was like Moses parting the Red Sea. I walked up through the gauntlet of reporters and he signed the shoes and said: ‘Here, Alex. Thank you very much. You are very kind.’ I said thanks and took off with the shoes and hid them in my locker.”
The size 13 shoes are the rare Air Jordan VII ‘Cardinal’ style heavily coveted by collectors. White with red and black accents, they sport a silhouetted Michael Jordan flying in for a slam dunk embroidered in gold on each ankle. Both shoes include Jordan’s patented number “23” in raised white numbers on the heels positioned on top of a red and black triangular motif. “AIR JORDAN” is embroidered in black into both white tongues and they are both tagged on the interior with “920112FT2”.
Jordan signed each shoe in black marker just below the embroidered gold silhouette. The shoes show evident court use and, according to the auction house, are properly tagged and structurally sound, with their original white laces. It’s expected they’ll sell for $15,000 or more.
Bidding is open to registered bidders at www.scpauctions.com and with the auction set to close Saturday, November 4.