The recent rise of basketball cards and memorabilia has produced what may be the first high-end basketball-only auction. Launched last week by Heritage Auctions, the “Michael Jordan & Basketball Icons Sports Catalog event includes 375 lots of memorabilia and trading cards.
As the auction’s namesake, Jordan items have a lot of space in he catalog. One of the top lots is a complete Jordan-worn Chicago Bulls uniform from the 1986-87 season photo-matched to at least five games during that season, including the March 24, 1987, dust-up with the Philadelphia 76ers during which Jordan dropped 56 points.
This is also the uni that adorns the Nov. 17, 1986, cover of Sports Illustrated – the one proclaiming Jordan as the “One Man Gang and the rookie year jersey used for an NBA Hoop magazine photo shoot.
Several pairs of Jordan shoes are on the block include these game-worn Air Jordan 1’s dating to Jordan’s rookie season – specifically, the Bulls’ March 5, 1985, game against the Washington Bullets at Chicago Stadium. There is also a pair of game-issued ’85 Air Jordan 1’s signed by Jordan, and a pair of 1989 game-worn Air Jordan IV’s, signed by Jordan for a charity event.
Heritage is also offering a section of the Staples Center floor from Kobe Bryant’s last game, autographed by the late star.
“In recent months, we’ve seen extraordinary reaction from collectors who have so many great Jordan items that we were compelled to put together this dedicated, singular auction,” says Chris Ivy, Heritage’s Director of Sports Auctions. “And once we began assembling it, other consignors began stepping up with amazing pieces.”
There are signed photos and posters. An autographed yearbook from that rookie season. Signed balls and caps and an autographed golf bag. Even a signed check from 1998, payable to a casino owned by Donald Trump.
The auction includes several LeBron James pieces, topped by a signed game-worn Cleveland Cavaliers jersey, which King James gifted to teammate Daniel Gibson; a 2004 Topps Chrome Superfractor No. 23, graded PSA Gem Mint 10, of which there is but one in existence; and, from 2005, an oversized, autographed Nike “We Are All Witnesses” print of which there were only 25 made.
Other jerseys up for grabs: a Giannis Antetokounmpo game-worn Milwaukee Bucks jersey photo-matched to the Nov. 29, 2019, game against the Cavs. There’s a photo-matched jersey Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Dončić wore March 8, 2019, against the Orlando Magic during his Rookie of the Year season. And there are three tops worn by his Mavs predecessor and future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki, including a jersey from No. 41’s final season of 21 with a single team.
Card collectors are chasing a complete set of PSA Gem Mint 10 1986 Fleer Basketball, featuring the Jordan rookie card, multiple Hall of Fame rookie cards including three high-end Kareem Abdul-Jabbar rookies, complete PSA-graded basketball sets and several lots of vintage unopened material.
Bidding runs through October 3.