WESTHAMPTON, N.Y. – The distinctive red and black sneakers Michael Jordan wore during the 1997 NBA Finals “Flu Game” have sold for $104,765 in an auction that closed in the early morning hours of December 12th. The signed, game-used shoes consigned by a former Utah Jazz ball boy were the star attraction of Grey Flannel Auctions’ online and absentee sale of premium-quality professional and collegiate sports memorabilia. The winning bid on the size-13 Air Jordans represents 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 with nonstop rebounds, assists and a game-sealing 3-pointer in spite of being seriously ill with a 103-degree fever.
After the pivotal game, which put the Bulls ahead of the Jazz in the series three games to two, 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 auction together with various types of relevant documentation.
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