During Jordan’s rookie season in 1984, he wore Air Ships while Nike was still creating his now iconic Air Jordan brand. Goldin Auctions founder Ken Goldin used a process known as photo-matching to identify the shoes as the ones Jordan wore during a matchup with the Denver Nuggets on Nov. 1, 1984. Jordan may have worn the shoes as early as his NBA debut.
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A former Nuggets ball boy, Lewis first sold the shoes at another auction for $1.47 million, and revealed the story of how he got them.
He had asked Jordan during a shootaround if he could have the shoes following the game, but Jordan declined, telling Lewis that they were too expensive to part with. After the game, however, when His Airness saw Lewis, he not only gave him the shoes, he signed them as well. On one shoe, he addressed TJ personally, signing it “My Very Best To TJ Michael Jordan,” and on the other, Jordan signed his name. (Jordan’s stat line in that game was mediocre by his standards: only posting 17 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.) The significance of the shoes remains that they are the earliest known shoes that Jordan wore in his career.
Jordan was named an NBA All-Star during his rookie campaign (to date, only 45 players in the history of the league have accomplished this feat) and won Rookie of the Year before giving the Boston Celtics an incredible 63 points in a playoff game. Jordan’s Hall of Fame career would eventually establish him as one of the greatest players in NBA history.
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Source: Black Enterprise