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Rare Air: 1984 Air Jordans Up for Auction

These prototypes were banned by the NBA, but Michael Jordan wore them anyway.

Over the Course of Grey Flannel Auctions’ 30-year history it has sold more than 1,000 pairs of shoes of which the current top sale are 1984/85 Jordan 1s, rookie game worn and dual autographed by the legend himself. The price: $420,000.

Air Jordan

That lofty figure could be surpassed with the auction house’s current sale of 1984 sample prototype Air Jordan 1s. The sneakers were initially banned by the NBA for flouting the rule that court shoes must be 51 percent white. Nike leaned into the controversy, agreeing to pay the $15,000 fines per game and advertising the “banned” shoes. Air Jordan debuted in April 1985 with the goal of making $3 million in the first three years. The earnings were $126 million in year one. The shoe—and the player—went onto change sports history.

Hence Michael Russek, director of operations for Grey Flannel Auctions, belief that these shoes will break its sales record. “This is a very special and rare pair; they’re undisputedly one of the earliest Jordans ever produced and will likely become the earliest pair ever sold publicly,” he says, noting that online bidding started at $25,000. “It’s possible these could become one of the most expensive Jordans ever sold.”

The pair predates the iconic Jumpman and wings logos. The left shoe is size 13 and the right 13.5—custom ordered to Jordan’s specifications. The pair is accompanied by a letter from the consignor stating that shoes were gifted by Nike to a college basketball coach in Portland, OR, for allowing the design team to wear test different Jordan prototypes with his athletes. The pair has been meticulously preserved and never displayed. Bidding closes June 9.

The June 2024 Issue

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