Auctions are filled with jerseys. Some have been in collections for years and the stories behind how they got there have been lost to time. Some come with pretty airtight team or player game-worn provenance. Others are, well, let’s say “questionable.”
Then there are those with personal stories involving colorful characters and fans not afraid to take a chance or go the extra mile.
Heritage Auctions is offering one such shirt in its current auction.
Flash back to Christmas Day 1997. The NBA on NBC. A nationally televised game between the powerhouse Chicago Bulls, about five months away from winning their sixth NBA title. The Last Dance, as we now know they called their final run with Phil Jackson at the helm.
The Heritage consignor, who is keeping her name private, acquired three tickets to the game at the United Center against the visiting Miami Heat. The seats were in a prime location, just twelve rows from courtside. She entered the arena on that chilly day, carrying a handmade sign under her arm that was a plea to a member of the NBA’s best team. No, not Michael Jordan.
It had become a tradition of sorts for forward Dennis Rodman to peel off his shirt and toss it to a fan when he was done using it. Cameras would then follow a shirtless Worm down the tunnel after (usually) another Bulls victory.
The sign was a homemade cartoon of Rodman—six pack featured prominently– holding a jersey in his right hand. Bold text applied beside Rodman’s muscular frame read, simply, “All I want for Christmas is…” An arrow pointed to the jersey.
After the Bulls put away the Heat, 90-80, Rodman—who played more minutes than anyone that day and snared 13 rebounds– spotted the sign-waving fan in the crowd. He motioned for her to meet him near the court and the green-haired Santa Claus came through by delivering his sweaty, but much appreciated gamer.
While the sign is no longer around, the consignor did save her ticket to the game, which will be included with the jersey.
The home white mesh jersey has a current high bid of over $10,000 heading into the weekend with bidding set to close Sunday. The timing is right, considering the recent release of the ESPN docu-series and increased interest in memorabilia associated with the 1990s Bulls.
Some items, though, have a story that’s more fun than others.