Michael Jordan’s sneakers are coveted pieces of memorabilia, and Heritage Auction is offering the earliest photo-matched Air Jordan 1s in its current auction.
The signed Air Jordans were matched to an April 1, 1986, game at Mecca Arena between Jordan’s Chicago Bulls and the Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee, destined to win the Central Division reach the Eastern Conference finals before being swept by the Boston Celtics, won 116-107.
The shoes are among the premier attractions in the Heritage Platinum Night Auction, set to close this weekend.
That didn’t stop Jordan, who was still nursing a broken foot and came off the bench to score a game-high 28 points in 26 minutes of action. He also had five total rebounds, blocked three shots, had two assists and one steal.
Although Jordan was limited to only 18 games during the 1985-86 season by a broken foot, he still had a healthy scoring average of 22.7 points per game.
This particular pair of sneakers was altered slightly to accommodate Jordan’s injured foot. The standard soles were trades for examples used on “Nike Dunk” models, giving the footwear a softer and wider feel.
A defect in the sneakers left an uneven count of eyelets on each side of the right shoe’s tongue. The sneaker was missing a punch where the third eyelet from the top would normally be parallel to the player’s interior ankle.
Game photography showed a skipped tier of leather laces; the left shoe, meanwhile, was properly laced.
On the same side of the missing eyelets is an area of white abrasions to the red leather that borders the shoe’s toe box. That was also a precise photo match.
Another white scuff between the outside Nike swoosh and toe box on the left show also presented a photo match in game images from the contest.
The sneakers’ interior ankle contains factory coding in white printed text. The “13 860304STPS” code translates to a size 13 that was produced between March 1986 and April 1986. “ST” denotes where the footwear was produced, while “PS” is indicative of a player sample.
The black leather around the sneakers’ ankles are cracked from time, and not from game action.
Jordan’s autograph is written in black ballpoint ink and is located directly below the uneven eyelet that was unused due to its missing partner on the right sneaker.
The sneaker has several letters of authenticity. The photo match carries an LOA from MeiGray and Photo-Match.com. There is also a full LOA for the signature from Beckett Authentication Services and PSA/DNA, and an LOA from Heritage Auctions.
Jordan would go on to win seven scoring titles during his 15-year NBA stint, including a career-high 37.1 point average during the 1986-87 season. That would be the first of seven consecutive scoring titles, interrupted only by Jordan’s decision to skip basketball in favor of baseball during the 1993-94 NBA season.
He would return and win three more scoring titles, pouring in 32,292 points during his illustrious career.
The sneaker marks the beginning of a legacy that would see Jordan lead the Bulls to six NBA titles.
Heritage believes the shoes could sell somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million when bidding closes Saturday night.