One of the most heated debates in all of basketball is the GOAT conversation and whether or not Michael Jordan has done enough to cement his spot at the top of NBA's Mt. Rushmore. After six titles and five league MVP awards, the Chicago Bulls icon's claim of being the greatest of all time is still (and will forever be) up for debate as both old and new legends in the NBA add themselves to the coveted title. But, if there's one thing these other players won't be able to touch when it comes to MJ's career is his merch.
For starters, Jordan has built a multi-billion dollar empire with his own brand Jordan brand under sportswear giant Nike. But, it's not just with new merchandise that the basketball legend is owning the market. Decades after his incredible career in the NBA, #23 continuously shows how much he has impacted the sport and this unending rise in popularity only helps anything affiliated to him skyrocket in terms of value, especially his memorabilia.
Here are five of the most expensive pieces of Michael Jordan memorabilia ever sold.
5. Game-worn 1984 Olympics Jersey – ($ 273,904)
There's nothing like a game-worn item from the great MJ himself to get collectors go nuts and empty their pockets (as you'll see in this list). Jordan has a collection of game-worn jersey being auctioned off and sold in the market but this one was by far the most expensive one yet. A young Michael Jordan made his Team USA debut for the Olympics in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and this stint, encapsulated by the team's red uniforms, was truly a special one.
The summer games was a sort of a coming out party for Jordan as he was just recently drafted by the Chicago Bulls a month before the tournament. He ended up leading the team in scoring (17 points per game) and spearheaded a flawless 8-0 record en route to his first gold medal finish.
MJ's game-worn Team USA uniform was auctioned off by Grey Flannel Auctions and was sold for $273,904 in June 2017.
4. 1992 Used and Signed Basketball from “Jam” Music Video ($304,000)
When you combine two of the biggest pop culture icons of a generation into one project, it's almost impossible to put up a dud. In 1992, one of the biggest music figures in the name of Michael Jackson got Jordan to star in the music video of his hit single aptly named “Jam”. The music video had it all – Michael Jackson playing some pick-up ball and Michael Jordan hitting the dancefloor. It was an instant classic.
Almost two decades after the video premiered, it was neither of the MJs making headlines as one of the props used in the video took the spotlight and was sold for $304,000. One of the basketballs used in the production, signed by both Michael's sold in a Hollywood “Legends” sale in Macau in 2010 for over $2.4 million Macanese pataca. You read that right, an old Spalding ball was sold for more than a quarter million dollars. That's what the star power of these two generational figures can get you.
3. Game-worn Air Jordan 1s ($560,000)
One of the most infamous pairs of Jordans out there is the first ever in his signature collection – the Air Jordan 1. This pair is one of the most important shoes in the history of sneakers as it paved the way for Jordan to be given a new signature shoe in each of his subsequent seasons in the league. The Peter Moore-designed show has one of the most iconic silhouettes in the sneaker universe and even has Nike releasing updated versions of this more than three decades after its initial release.
Michael Jordan wore these sneakers shortly after he signed a historic deal with the shoe brand before even entering the league in 1984. Though only second to Adidas in terms of brand preference, Jordan ended up signing with Nike after Adidas wasn't prepared to match Nike's offer. Nike reportedly offered a young Jordan a five-year $500,000 contract with an interesting three-part clause. First, he had to win the ROTY award. Second, he had to make it to the All-Star Game or average at least 20 points per game. And lastly, he had to sell over $4 million worth of shoes by his third year. Michael ended up surpassing all those things which makes this specific sneaker extra special.
Initially estimated to sell at $150,000, this pair of game-worn 1s sold for $560,000 in 2020 after the release of Jordan's Netflix documentary “The Last Dance”.
2. Game-worn “Shattered Backboard” Nike Air Jordan 1s ($615,000)
Yes, those game-worn 1's selling for more than half a million dollars is already insane as it is. But add a piece of broken glass in the sole and that number goes up by over $50k more. Three months after the aforementioned pair sold for $560,000, another rare piece of MJ artifact ended up in the history books as one of the most expensive sneakers ever sold.
This run down pair of Air Jordan 1s is quite a unique one. Jordan wore this specific pair in an exhibition game in Trieste, Italy in the summer of 1985. Fresh from his NBA debut season, Jordan brought his talents across the globe and ended up shattering a backboard after an emphatic slam in a scrimmage. Apparently, a small piece of glass from the incident got stuck in the sole of the left shoe which made this particular pair a bit more elusive.
In the summer of 2020, 35 years after Jordan shattered some glass in Italy, this pair shattered record books all over and sold for $615,000 by Christie's in a lot sale which included eight more of MJ's game-worn sneakers. The entire sale totaled to an incredible $931,875 with the “Shattered Backboard” 1s enjoying a huge chunk of the sale.
1. Hardwood Floor from the Delta Center ($1,000,000)
By far one of the craziest Jordan memorabilia ever sold wasn't anything MJ wore or even endorsed under any of his affiliated brands. It wasn't anything he signed either. Trading card company Upper Deck reportedly purchased the hardwood floor of Delta Center, the homecourt of the Utah Jazz, for an unthinkable amount of $1,000,000. What makes this collection of wood special? Nothing much – it's just where Jordan and his Bulls won their last title together in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals against the Jazz.
Over a year after Jordan knocked down one of the most iconic jumpers in NBA history, Upper Deck signed a check for $1 million to buy the actual floor both teams played on in June 14, 1998 where the Bulls ended the series against the Jazz and grabbed their sixth NBA title in eight seasons. This game was undoubtedly the end of an era and Upper Deck wanted a huge piece of that historic moment.
Although the company hasn't released any plans on what they ought to do with the 90 feet worth of wood, just being part of history as one of the most expensive and insane purchases ever made in sports history surely makes it worth it.