The distinctive red and black sneakers Michael Jordan wore during the 1997 NBA Finals “Flu Game” have sold for $104,765 in a Grey Flannel auction that closed Dec. 12. The signed, game-used shoes consigned by a former Utah Jazz ball boy set a record for the highest price ever paid at auction for a pair of game-worn shoes from any sport.
By association, the sneakers have become part of basketball lore, as the Flu Game is ranked #2 on ESPN’s list of Michael Jordan’s 50 Greatest Moments. Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals – which pitted the Jazz against the Chicago Bulls – acquired the “Flu Game” nickname after Jordan put in a spectacular 38-point performance and a game-sealing three-pointer in spite of being hit with a 103-degree fever.
After the pivotal game, which put the Bulls ahead of the Jazz in the series 3-2, Jordan signed the sneakers he had just worn and gave them to Jazz ball boy Preston Truman. The moment was documented for posterity when Jordan’s bodyguard snapped a photo of the Bulls superstar applying his autograph to the shoes as Truman looked on. The Nike Air Jordan Jumpman kicks were stored away in a safe deposit box for the next 16 years, until Truman consigned them to Grey Flannel to auction together with various types of relevant documentation.
While the Jordan sneakers were the sale’s headliners, important items from all major sports were chased into the wee hours of Dec 12.
From the football section, the complete uniform and cleats worn by Brett Favre when he broke the NFL’s all-time touchdown record on Sept. 30, 2007, were auctioned as two separate lots that totaled $29,544.
Baseball fans recognized the exceptional rarity of a 1932 New York Yankees World Championship ring that belonged to outfielder Sam Byrd, nicknamed “Babe Ruth’s Legs” because he frequently pinch-ran for the stocky Bambino. Accompanied by a letter of authenticity from the Byrd family, The gold “NEW YORK YANKEES WORLD CHAMPIONS” ring with .66-carat round-cut diamond realized $65,048.
The fully illustrated catalog for the Grey Flannel sale, complete with prices realized, can be viewed online at www.GreyFlannelAuctions.com. For more information, call 631-288-7800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.