It might be the most famous piece of Michael Jordan worn memorabilia that’s not red or black.
The warmup jacket he famously covered as an act of loyalty to Nike on the medal stand at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona is now up for auction and it’s expected to bring a seven-figure price.
Sotheby’s is selling the jacket, which it bills as “perhaps the most important ‘Dream Team’ item to ever surface publicly,” in an auction that launched Thursday.
The jacket has already received a $750,000 opening bid.
Reebok had spent millions of dollars to sponsor the Olympics, and expected athletes to be pictured in its apparel. Jordan wasn’t keen about wearing the logo of the company that was a rival to Nike. As a compromise, he draped an American flag over his shoulder, covering up the Reebok logo. According to Sotheby’s, the jacket still has the safety pins attached over the Reebok logo.
During NBC’s coverage of the medal ceremony, NBC’s play-by-play broadcaster Marv Albert commented, ‘Michael Jordan draped in the American flag – and that is not for solely patriotic reasons’.“
Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley, also Nike men, joined Jordan in covering up the Reebok labeling that day.
The Jordan jacket was consigned to Sotheby’s by former NBA media relations man Brian McIntyre who got it from Jordan immediately after the U.S. team captured the gold medal. “I certainly don’t want it,” Jordan is said to have remarked.
A couple of years later, McIntyre asked Jordan if he wanted it back. Instead, he autographed it, “To Brian, thanks for everything.”
According to the Associated Press, Jordan knows of McIntyre’s decision to sell it.
The incident captured much attention during the NBC broadcast 31 years ago and was also part of the ESPN documentary, The Last Dance.
Jordan was well known before the Olympics but his worldwide popularity exploded that summer.
“After the Olympics, Michael was the most recognizable, the most popular sports figure, but really cultural figure, in the world. He was really a global superstar. Everyone around the world knew Michael Jordan,” said Willow Bay, at the time the Host of NBA Inside Stuff.
The jacket has been photo matched by MeiGray and the autograph has been verified by James Spence Authentication.
It will be on public display at Sotheby’s New York offices from June 24-June 28, when the auction will close.
A jersey worn by Jordan during the U.S. team’s win over Lithuania in Barcelona is on auction through Goldin now where bidding has already passed $1 million. That jersey is part of a set of signed game-worn jerseys and shoes consigned by Dream Teamer Karl Malone.