“Michael Jordan’s game-worn Air Jordan 1 shoes auctioned for $530k”: A pair of OG AJ1s gifted by the Bulls legend to a UNC recruit goes under the hammer

Amulya Shekhar
|Published 10/03/2021

Michael Jordan once gifted a pair of his game-worn Air Jordan 1 sneakers in a recruitment exercise for UNC coach Dean Smith. Those shoes sold for $530k.

Bribing prospects, giving them money, or even taking them out to dinner has been deemed illegal by the NCAA. This means that college head coaches have to find innovative ways of convincing their targeted recruits.

Often, this includes using their own college’s alma mater as a cat’s paw. NBA players readily volunteer to help their head coaches out in tight spots like this.

Michael Jordan was no exception when he was called upon by UNC head coach Dean Smith in the mid-1980s. Jordan was a star from the minute he stepped on an NBA court, wearing his now-famous Air Jordan 1 shoes.

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Game-worn Michael Jordan Air Jordan 1 sneakers go under the hammer for over $500k

Smith organized a meeting between Jordan and the unnamed recruit’s grandmother at a Bulls game. Following the game, Jordan passionately explained why her grandson should choose to play for Smith in Chapel Hill.

As part of his pitch, the former Tar Heels star removed his Air Jordan 1 shoes, signed, and gifted them to her. It was a touching gesture, all things considered, but not enough to sway the grandma towards UNC.

The prospect eventually went elsewhere, but he knew better than to discard these shoes. His grandma held on to the kicks for 35 years before passing away. The sneakers were then gifted to an unknown person — who put them on the block at MEARS Auctions.

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$529.7k is the rough ballpark figure which collectibles like these are worth these days. Last August, a game-worn pair sold for $615k.

About the author
Amulya Shekhar

Amulya Shekhar

Amulya Shekhar is a sports junkie who thrives on the thrills and frills of live sports action across basketball, football (the American variant works too), parkour, adventure sports. He believes sports connect us to our best selves, and he hopes to help people experience sports more holistically.

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