You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Michael Jordan's Rookie Sneakers Expected to Sell for Record Price at Auction Sotheby's is selling the six-time NBA champion's earliest worn pair of Nike Air Ships.

By Amanda Breen

entrepreneur daily

Michael Jordan's red-and-white Nike Air Ships, which he wore during his fifth-ever pro game as the Bulls played the Denver Nuggets, will be auctioned off to the public by Sotheby's on Friday.

The sneakers, included in Sotheby's "Icons of Excellence & Haute Luxury" collection, are expected to be the most valuable ever offered at auction. Sotheby's estimates the pair will sell for $1 million to $1.5 million; the current record stands at $615,000 for a pair of Nike Air Jordan 1 High game-worn sneakers from 1985, sold by Christies in August 2020.

The Air Ships, designed by Bruce Kilgore, come from a former Denver Nuggets ball boy, whom Jordan gifted the sneakers to after the game.

Sales of products associated with the basketball legend skyrocketed after the success of the hit documentary series The Last Dance, which chronicles Jordan's rise to international superstardom.

"Michael Jordan's items are perhaps the most coveted," Brahm Wachter, head of Sotheby's streetwear and modern collectibles, told CNBC in an interview this week. "We put up a lot of other valuable memorabilia items, but I would say on a kind of ongoing and continuous basis Michael Jordan's market is really strong."

Related: This Is How You Become the Michael Jordan of What Matters to You

The most expensive sneaker ever sold by an auction house was Kanye West's "Grammy Worn" Nike Air Yeezy 1 Prototypes, which garnered $1.8 million. But that was a private sale.

In 1984, Jordan partnered with Nike for the sneaker collaboration that would be the first of its kind. The signature line of shoes set the stage for the many player-brand collaborations that continue to this day.

But the NBA wasn't a fan of the Air Ship collection. In 1985, the organization sent a letter to Nike, saying the colorful sneakers were a violation of the league's uniformity of uniform clause and Jordan would be fined $5,000 every time he donned them on the court.

Nike capitalized on the NBA's displeasure with an enormously successful ad campaign, saying that even though "the NBA threw [the shoes] out of the game, fortunately, the NBA can't stop you from wearing them." Today, the Air Jordan brand is worth billions.

Related: NBA Foundation to Give $6 Million in Grants to 22 Recipients

Amanda Breen

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior Features Writer

Amanda Breen is a senior features writer at She is a graduate of Barnard College and received an MFA in writing at Columbia University, where she was a news fellow for the School of the Arts.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business News

James Clear Explains Why the 'Two Minute Rule' Is the Key to Long-Term Habit Building

The hardest step is usually the first one, he says. So make it short.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business Solutions

Keep Inspiration in Reach with Nix Color Sensor, Now $60 for One Week Only

Scan any surface and get a detailed report of the color you're looking for.

Social Media

How To Start a Youtube Channel: Step-by-Step Guide

YouTube can be a valuable way to grow your audience. If you're ready to create content, read more about starting a business YouTube Channel.


Look Sharp with This Gillette Body Razor Set for $15

This Gillette Body Razor comes with nine refill blade cartridges and is on sale for $14.99 (reg. $24) for a limited time only.

Business News

This Woman Was Drowning in Debt Before She Tried 'Cash Stuffing.' Now She's Made The Highly Effective Practice a Full-Time Business.

A Texas woman was $80,000 in debt before she tried a method of budgeting called "cash stuffing." Now, she's not only paid off her debt but turned the budgeting practice into a full-time business to help others save.