The Nike sneakers Michael Jordan wore in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals in Utah, when he scored 38 points despite suffering from flu symptoms, sold for a record-shattering $104,765 onThursday.
The size 13 black with thick red trim shoes signed by arguably the greatest basketball player of all time were the property of former Jazz ball boy Preston Truman, who established a relationship with the ex-Chicago Bulls megastar after providing Jordan with his customary pregame apple sauce. They were brought to auction by Grey Flannel Auctions, crushing the old record sale of game-used shoes of $31,070 for a pair of Jordan’s rookie sneakers.
The identity of the winning bidder was not immediately made public.
When Jordan came back to Utah for the Finals in ’97, Truman says he brought Jordan applesauce even though Jordan wasn’t in the mood to eat. While Jordan was said to be suffering flulike symptoms, his trainer Tim Grover said years later that he was sure it was from food poisoning from a pizza Jordan ate the night before.
After the game, which put the Bulls up 3-2 and one game from winning their fifth title, Jordan gave Truman his shoes.
Truman provided the auction with a photo of Jordan signing the shoes for him that night, which matched the suit from pictures of him leaving the Delta Center.
“I think my photo that Jordan’s bodyguard took with me standing there drove up the price because buyers didn’t have to worry if they were real,” Truman told ESPN.com.
Photos from the game and of the broadcast also showed Truman taking care of the Bulls bench.
Even though Truman said he secured many pairs of game-used shoes from players during his seasons as a ball boy, he said he did it for the challenge instead of as a collector. Never getting attached to the shoes themselves made them easier to sell.
“I have looked at the shoes maybe four times since putting them in a safety deposit box 16 years ago,” Truman said. “I would go years without even thinking about it. . . I just didn’t see the point to something so cool and a part of NBA history sitting at my bank anymore.”