During the past few years, the market for Michael Jordan collectibles has been popular. In 2021, a pair of red and white Nike Airship became the most expensive pair of game-worn sneakers. Worn during Jordan’s fifth NBA game in his rookie season in 1984, the signed sneakers garnered nearly US$1.5 million dollars.
A year later, in September 2022, a rare opportunity has re-surfaced for collectors to purchase a memorabile of the legendary player. A game-worn Chicago Bulls jersey during his appearance in the 1998 NBA Finals, the shirt will be auctioned online at Sotheby’s New York. It is estimated from US$3 to 5 million dollars.
The jersey will be one of only two of Jordan's game-worn NBA Finals jerseys to ever appear at auction.
Jordan's shirt comes with a photo matching certificate from the MeiGray Group
It is also accompanied with a copy of a 1998 Sports Illustrated magazine featuring the iconic jersey
Michael Jordan 1998 NBA Finals “The Last Dance” Game Worn Jersey | Game 1
Nike, Nike Mesh Jersey, Size 50 (+4 Length)
Estimate: US$3,000,000 – 5,000,000
In 2015, a NBA Finals Chicago Bulls jersey that Jordan gathered slightly over US$173,000 dollars. Worn in 1998 against the New York Knicks, it marked his final regular season appearance with the Bulls and became the then highest price paid for a Jordan collectible at auction.
This time, a second shirt will be accompanied by a photo matching certificate from The MeiGray Group regarding the game use. It also comes with a graded copy of a June 1998 Sports Illustrated, which features this jersey on the cover.
Highly desired artifacts from the zeniths of Jordan’s career, most of his NBA finals jerseys remain in private hands and are regarded with the highest levels of importance in the collecting community. In 2016, the basketball legend donated US$5 million dollars to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and a 1996 NBA Finals Home jersey.
Jordan's iconic Bulls jersey with NBA Finals elements at the bottom right section
The basketball legend's Nike Airship shoes worn in 1984 are the most expensive pair of game-worn sneakers | Sotheby's Las Vegas, 2021 | Sold: US$1.5 million dollars
The jersey worn in his last regular season game for the Bulls in 1998 became a then record for match-worn Michael Jordan memorabilia | Goldin Auctions New Jersey, 2015 | Sold: US$173,240 dollars
The Last Dance was Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls (1997-1998) and is one of the most beloved periods amongst his fans.
Jordan reached the pinnacle of his popularity and powers, whilst conquering major internal divisions that were fracturing the team dynamics of the late 90s Chicago Bulls. The season is referred to as The Last Dance largely due to the ESPN documentary miniseries by the same name, which featured exclusive footage of the Bulls’ efforts throughout their title-winning season.
With players such as Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Luc Longley, the star-studded team knew that the Bulls franchise would ultimately be disbanded at the end of the season. As such, they knew it was their last opportunity to capture a sixth Championship for the Bulls. It was one of Jordan’s final key matches as an athlete – a testament to him as a champion.
(From left to right): Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Luc Longley and Dennis Rodman were part the Bulls' title-winning team in the 1997-1998 season
The Last Dance documentary (2020) showcased the Bulls' progress throughout the 1997-1998 season
Jordan holds onto the 1998 Finals MVP award, while Bulls coach Phil Jackson raises the team's champion trophy
The most watched NBA Finals of all time with nearly 36 million views, fans from around the world tuned into the matches between Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz. The Chicago players were greeted by a hostile home crowd. Some Utah fans were driving their cars with a Bull placed on a spit, as if it were grilled. This antagonistic atmosphere meant even Jordan’s children were not allowed to attend the game by their mother.
In the first of six closing matches, Jordan played 45 minutes – the most minutes on court of any of his 1998 NBA Finals games. The legendary player sent the game into overtime, scoring 33 points in this iconic red away jersey on his way to his sixth NBA Championship (second three-peat between 1991 and 1998) and sixth Finals MVP award.
Maradona's Hand of God goal helped Argentina beat England 2-1 in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals
Argentine football legend, Diego Maradona's jersey is the most valuable game-worn sports jersey ever | Sotheby's London, 2022 | Sold: £7.1 million pounds
Until 20 August, Jordan’s celebrated jersey will be on view for the first time in more than 20 years in Monterey, California. They will then return to Sotheby’s New York, where it will be displayed from 6 to 12 September.
Currently, the most expensive game-worn sports jersey in history was Diego Maradona’s 1986 World Cup shirt. In May 2022, it fetched £7.1 million pounds (around US$9.3 million dollars) at Sotheby’s London. The Argentine football superstar wore the jersey when he scored goal with his hand against England in the quarter-finals – earning the nickname, the Hand of God.
Whether Jordan’s Chicago Bulls jersey achieves similar heights remains to be seen.
Auction House: Sotheby’s New York
Sale: Invictus | Part I
Date: 6-14 September 2022