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'Last Dance' fervor hits Heritage Summer Platinum Sports Auction

DALLAS – Riding a wave of demand that has only grown since ESPN’s "The Last Dance" documentary, a trove of Michael Jordan memorabilia, including jerseys, shoes and trading cards, will find new homes after it crosses the block in Heritage Auctions’ Summer Platinum Night Sports Collectibles Catalog Auction Aug. 29-30.

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“Michael Jordan cards and memorabilia have always been in high demand, but since the recent airing of 'The Last Dance' the marketplace has reached a fever pitch,” Heritage Auctions Vice President Dan Imler said. “We expect that trend to continue with the incredible assortment of elite Jordan material we have up for bid currently in our August Platinum Night Auction.”

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Jordan’s name is synonymous with prolific scoring and highlight-reel dunks, but the jersey in which he established his career high with 18 rebounds could claim top lot honors among Jordan lots in the auction. The 1996-97 Michael Jordan Game Worn & Signed Chicago Bulls Uniform with Bulls Team Letter carries an estimate of $300,000+. That he also scored 32 points in the Bulls’ March 18, 1997 overtime victory over the Seattle SuperSonics is less noteworthy than his work on the glass in a game in which he played an exhausting 50:25 – more than any other player on either team. The jersey is offered along with a letter from Resolution Photomatching, which analyzed the mesh holes and stitch patterns in the jersey.

The letter reads, in part, “The jersey pictured above was one of multiple jerseys worn by Jordan in the game on this date, and was very likely worn from the start of the game until his substitution at 4:20 in the 3rd quarter.” If that weren’t enough, the provenance also includes a letter on team letterhead to a Chicago ticket broker, thanking him for his $50,500 donation to CharitaBulls, the Bulls' charity foundation through which fans bid uniforms worn that season by Jordan and teammates Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. That original owner's silent auction bid sheet for this Jordan uniform also is included in the document file for this lot.

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Before winning their first championship, the Chicago Bulls had to figure out a way to get by the two-time defending champion Detroit Pistons and then the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals. Before the game in which Jordan and the Bulls knocked out Magic Johnson and the Lakers, he warmed up in this 1991 Michael Jordan NBA Finals Clinching Game Worn Chicago Bulls Warm-Up Uniform (estimate: $200,000+). After a 9-0 scoring run in the fourth quarter, the Bulls finished off the deciding Game 5 and Jordan ended up hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy and his first Finals Most Valuable Player trophy. On hand to document the historic feat for "Radio France Méditerranée" was journalist Lamine M. Fofana, whose photos of the game and letter of provenance accompany this offering. His letter reads, "I am a member of the French press and was covering the NBA Finals for the 1990-91 season. All of these photographs were taken by me personally. After the game, I went into the locker room and interviewed Michael Jordan personally. He stated he could not give me his uniform but went to his locker and removed his sweats that he had worn both before and after the game and gave these to me." Sure enough, the warm-up ensemble perfectly matches Fofana’s photos, the classic Bulls format enhanced by the addition of an American flag patch over the team logo at the jacket’s heart in a show of solidarity with military personnel engaged in Operation Desert Storm. A “Bulls 25th Anniversary” patch on left sleeve further assures debut Championship vintage.

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The 1986 Fleer Jordan is the most recognizable card of the past 50 years, but the 1984-85 Star Co. Michael Jordan Rookie #101 BGS Mint 9, BAS Auto 10 (estimate: $100,000+) actually predates the presumptive standard for Jordan cards, tracing to his first days on an NBA court. So early in his career was this card produced that the only statistics appearing on the back were the numbers he put up at the University of North Carolina. Rarities like this one were distributed in sealed team bags, with the Jordan on top, in a production run believed to have numbered fewer than 5,000. Only three have been given a higher grade, but none of those three was signed by Jordan.

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The 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan #57 SGC Pristine 10--The Only Gold Label Example (estimate: $100,000+) is considered the last great “regular issue” model, which generates demand unmatched by any other Jordan card. Arguably the greatest modern card in existence, this example stands alone as the only SGC specimen out of more than 2,000 submissions to land the grading service’s gold-colored “Pristine 10” label. For perspective, more than 300 such cards have earned PSA Gem Mint 10 grades, one of which sold at Heritage Auctions in May 2020 for $96,000.

Jordan is known as a legend on the court and a titan in the sneaker industry, and this auction has 13 lots of Jordan’s shoes, including a pair of 1984 Michael Jordan Olympics Trials Game Worn & Team Signed Sneakers with Letter from Son of USA Team Doctor (estimate: $100,000+). Like most top stars of the era, Jordan wore Converse, including during his college days at UNC and in his first Olympic appearance in 1984, before he forged a decades-long relationship with Nike. 

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The offered shoes come from the son of a former team doctor at the University of Indiana, working with IU head coach Bobby Knight, who was going to coach the Olympic team. His father and his friendship with Knight’s son, Patrick, gained the consignor access to practices and the team hotel. A trip to the hotel pool, where Olympic players were in attendance, was followed by an elevator ride with multiple players, including Jordan, who gave his shoes to the consignor. Being the coach’s son, Patrick Knight then took the shoes on the team bus to get them autographed by multiple players, including Jordan, Magic Johnson, Chris Mullin and Wayman Tisdale.

A pair of 1988 Michael Jordan Eastern Conference Semifinals Game Worn & Signed Air Jordan III Sneakers (estimate: $50,000+) also carries a fascinating back story, coming directly from a ballboy for the Bulls’ most hated rivals at the time: the Detroit Pistons. The shoes are offered along with a letter of provenance from the former ballboy for the team that had blocked the Bulls from reaching the Eastern Conference finals in each of the three previous seasons. The consignor can’t remember the specific game after which he received the shoes, each of which is signed by Jordan, but what is known is that Jordan was the leading scorer; he held that title in each of the game’s played in Detroit, pouring in 29, 36 and 25 points in Games 1, 2 and 5, respectively.

A 1981 McDonald's All-American High School Basketball Program Signed by Michael Jordan & Ticket (estimate: $20,000+) highlighted arguably the greatest compilation of high school talent on a single court. Four years after the first McDonald’s All-American game, the event featured an incredible four future Hall of Famers: Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin and coach John Wooden – each of whom is among the 18 to autograph the offered program. Incredibly, 14 of the 25 players in the game appeared at least once in an NBA game; other future college and professional stars who added their signatures included, but were not limited to: Ed Pinckney, Adrian Branch, Milt Wagner and Bill Wennington. As if the program weren’t enough, it is offered along with the only known ticket stub from the event, presented in a PSA slab … and adorned on the back by a young lady’s phone number. The program and ticket stub are extraordinary keepsakes from Jordan’s first appearance on a national stage.

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Other top Jordan lots in the auction include, but are not limited to:

1984-85 Star Michael Jordan Rookie #101 BGS Mint 9 $50,000+

1986 Fleer Michael Jordan #57 PSA Gem Mint 10 $50,000+

1984 Michael Jordan NBA Debut Chicago Bulls vs. Washington Bullets Ticket Stub, PSA Authentic $20,000+

1994 Michael Jordan Game Worn Birmingham Barons Air Jordan Cleats – Consigned by Fellow Player $20,000+

1990s Michael Jordan UDA Signed Chicago Stadium Floor Board with "Best Wishes" Inscription $3,000+.

Check out all the lots at the Heritage auction site.

Source: Heritage Auctions