“The Shot,” “Flu Game,” “Shrug Game,” “The Last Shot,” the 63-point playoff performance, six NBA title-clinching victories.
These were all epic games by legendary Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan.
For each of those games, a relatively speaking small, wide-eyed crowd witnessed once-in-a-lifetime events in person by arguably the greatest basketball player of all time.
The moments live on forever in the minds of those who attended. Andrew Goldberg wasn’t fortunate enough to be a ticket holder for any of those historic games, but he’s aiming to get a small piece of that electric feeling MJ gave off every time he stepped onto a basketball court.
Goldberg, a native of the Chicago suburb Highland Park, has ventured into uncharted territory. He’s on a mission to collect a ticket from every regular-season, playoff and NBA All-Star Game Jordan ever played in during his illustrious 15-year career.
“One of the reasons I got into the tickets more so than the cards was I just loved the authenticity and realness of tickets,” Goldberg said. “Cards for me — and it’s not meant to be a knock on cards, but this is my viewpoint — is when the industry became very, very aware of itself, let’s call it in the collectability of itself in the late-‘80s to early to mid-‘90s, it was this explosion to access and these rare inserts, luck of the draw sort of thing. Those are someone’s marketing idea. …With tickets, it’s all about the athletes and what they did in a particular game. The ticket itself, unless it’s unused, was in that arena and … was almost like a witness to the event. It was in the same breathing space as Michael Jordan, and that’s really cool.”
In all, Goldberg is collecting tickets for 1,264 games: 930 regular-season games with the Chicago Bulls; 179 playoff games with the Bulls; 142 regular-season games with the Washington Wizards; and 13 All-Star Games.
“I just thought, people are interested in ticket stubs that Babe Ruth played in, maybe this guy is becoming the Babe Ruth of basketball,” said the 46-year-old Goldberg, who now lives in Miami.
Goldberg has been working on his project for five years and, as of the end of January 2021, has tracked down 956 tickets from different games. He’s just over 76 percent finished. Goldberg is only collecting the season-ticket-holder versions of tickets. However, he sometimes nabs the box-office version, but never the Ticketmaster variety, so finding tickets gets a little tougher.
“I’m a numbers person, so I keep some stats on what my progress is,” Goldberg said. “Just talking to everybody, I asked a ton of people, ‘Is there someone else you are aware of doing this?’ And I’ve asked a lot of the major ticket sellers I’ve met, and they haven’t heard of anyone doing this. The closest I’ve heard of is there is a guy who’s trying to get a ticket from every game of Jordan’s rookie year only. He’s also trying to do Magic’s rookie year and Bird’s rookie year.”
Collecting all 82 games from Jordan’s rookie season sounds doable. Adding the rest of Jordan’s 14 NBA seasons — and all the playoff runs — sure makes it an uphill climb. But Goldberg is up for the challenge.
Goldberg came up with his MJ ticket idea prior to the 2015-16 season in which the Golden State Warriors went on to secure a 73-9 record in the regular season.
“I just thought to myself, wouldn’t it be cool if I could get a ticket from every game of the 72-10 season?” Goldberg said. “That would be a really cool wall piece or something like that for the man cave. Of course, as the (2015-16) season went on, I was like, ‘Uh oh, are (the Warriors) going to beat this record?’ Then, of course, they didn’t but didn’t win the championship, so people don’t always consider them the best because they didn’t seal the deal.”
As Goldberg started collecting tickets from the Bulls’ then-record-setting season in 1995-96, he came across so many tickets from the other years Jordan played that Goldberg altered his plan.
Collecting Tickets in Person
Goldberg first started collecting tickets when his dad had shared season tickets for the Bulls for about 25 years pre-Jordan and through the championship years. Goldberg said it was a treat for him when he was able to attend a Bulls game, which was about five times per season.
“I just started to keep the tickets of the games that I went to and then after a while I asked my dad to start saving some of the tickets for games that he went to,” Goldberg said. “Of course, he wasn’t too good at keeping them in good condition — he just kind of shoved them in his pocket.”
Prior to getting his ticket project going, Goldberg was able to check off about 60 Jordan tickets that he had kept from going to games.
In his inaugural year of collecting tickets in 2015, Goldberg quickly picked up a ton. In Years 2-4, he averaged purchasing about nine tickets per month. Last year, prior to “The Last Dance” documentary coming out, Goldberg averaged about two to three tickets per month. However, that number bumped up to about six per month as people started flooding eBay with Jordan tickets. Goldberg started getting contacted by people who heard about his project.
Along the journey, Goldberg has had a number of people donate tickets to him, while others have offered tickets at various degrees of price.
“If they think it’s worth a heck of a lot more than it really is because they’ve heard that Jordan memorabilia is really valuable, I just won’t buy it,” said Goldberg, who also has a ticket from the 1982 NCAA championship game when Jordan hit the game-winning shot as a freshman to give North Carolina the title.
Recently, Goldberg was contacted by a guy who had full tickets from the Bulls’ three home games in the 1997 Finals, Games 1, 2 and 6 — the title clincher. Goldberg already had those tickets, but these were in better condition. Goldberg told the guy if he ever wanted to part with the tickets to let him know a price. Not long after, the guy mailed Goldberg a ticket from a non-key Jordan game and included in the package were the three ’97 Finals tickets.
“He says, ‘Hey, this is just a gift. Good luck with your hunt,’” Goldberg said. “I was just blown away by this. That Game 6 ticket, I’m going to send it off to PSA to see what kind of grade it will get. In my estimation, it’s always an amateur estimation when you’re talking about a PSA grade, but it looks really good to me.”
Piecing it Together
With 956 tickets checked off his list, Goldberg has tracked down a good chunk of the key games where Jordan did something spectacular.
Goldberg has 82 percent of the tickets from Jordan’s playoff games. Most notably, he has 33 of the 35 Finals games and every ticket from the 1991 playoff run.
Some of the big-game tickets Goldberg has in his collection include: “The Shot” over Craig Ehlo, May 7, 1989 at Cleveland Cavaliers (graded PSA authentic); record-high 69 points, March 28, 1990 at Cleveland (PSA authentic); baseline dunk on Patrick Ewing, April 30, 1991 at Madison Square Garden, New York Knicks (PSA authentic); Jordan switches hands for a layup, June 5, 1991 vs. Los Angeles Lakers; first NBA title clincher, June 12, 1991 at Los Angeles (PSA 5); “Shrug Game,” June 3, 1992 vs. Portland Trailblazers; second NBA title clincher, June 14, 1992 vs. Portland (PSA 5); third NBA title clincher, June 20, 1993 at Phoenix Suns (PSA authentic); fourth NBA title clincher, June 16, 1996 vs. Seattle Supersonics (PSA authentic); “Flu Game,” June 11, 1997 at Utah Jazz (PSA authentic); fifth NBA title clincher, June 13, 1997; last home game as a Bulls player, June 12, 1998 vs. Utah; sixth NBA title clincher, June 14, 1998 at Utah; final NBA game, April 16, 2003 at Philadelphia 76ers; 1984 Olympic gold medal game, Aug. 10, 1984 (PSA authentic); and 1992 Olympic gold medal game, the Dream Team, Aug. 8, 1992 (PSA 6).
All the aforementioned tickets are integral parts of Goldberg’s collection, but his crown jewel doesn’t even count towards Jordan’s 1,264 games — that’s because it’s a preseason game. Jordan made his Bulls home debut at Chicago Stadium on Oct. 19, 1984 against the Kansas City Kings. That was the lone preseason game played in Chicago that season.
Goldberg found the ticket — a full version in red, which signifies it’s from a season ticket holder — a few years ago and bought it for a couple hundred dollars. At the time, Goldberg didn’t truly know how rare the ticket was. He sent it off to PSA and it was graded a 6. To date, it is the only PSA graded stub or full ticket in existence from that game.
Last year, an ungraded ticket from Jordan’s first NBA game, a preseason contest at the Peoria Civic Center Arena vs. the Indiana Pacers on Oct. 5, 1984, was sold by Heritage Auctions for whopping $34,800. The ticket originally cost $8 from Ticketmaster.
Goldberg believes his full ticket from Jordan’s NBA home debut is more valuable than the stub that sold for $34,800. Goldberg’s game was played at Jordan’s future home arena and is truly a 1/1 as a graded version.
Another ticket that prominently stands out in Goldberg’s collection is from the Bulls’ sixth title clincher on June 14, 1998, which was also Jordan’s final game as a Bull. The stub is remarkably signed by Jordan. The ticket itself isn’t graded, but PSA deemed the autograph a 10.
“That ticket’s pretty special because I’m not aware of many out there that are signed by him,” Goldberg said.
Goldberg has over 3,000 Jordan tickets in his collection because he likes to have doubles and triples of games so he’s able to trade with fellow collectors. If anyone would like to contact Goldberg, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Goldberg still finds it hard to believe no one has ever attempted to collect a ticket from every game Jordan played. But he knows firsthand how much effort it takes into tracking down the tickets.
“I guess it would be a pretty unique collection by the time it was done, so there’d be a huge sense of accomplishment,” Goldberg said. “Again, it’s a little strange to think that it could be the only one in the world that exists. That’s pretty cool.”