Michael Jordan’s image is nearly flawless, and it’s proved to be profit-generating. He is a global icon, probably the most recognizable athlete, and maybe even the most recognizable person in the world.
Although he retired in 2003, his legacy moved ahead, and his reputation is reinforced by innumerable of highlights that are available for a younger generation’s viewing pleasure. Proof of Jordan’s lasting impact came in a recent auction when a jersey from his iconic documentary just sold for an amount that’ll make your jaw drop to the floor.
According to NBC Sports, the jersey worn by Jordan himself in the 1998 NBA Finals has sold at a memorabilia auction for over $10 million. This is the same NBA Finals that were deemed as the Chicago Bulls’ “Last Dance,” because this was the last year that they all played together for the second three-peat championship before Jordan retired.
By the way, this is the highest-selling Jordan item that has ever been auctioned. The last Jordan item was an autographed card that sold for $2.7 million. The Last Dance jersey blew that sale out of the water by over $7 million. The game-worn jersey was auctioned off at Sotheby’s, and according to them, it was expected to only go for $5 million, but there ended up being 20 offers that eventually led the price to go over $10 million.
The jersey was worn in Game 1 of the 1998 NBA Finals when the Bulls faced John Stockton, Karl Malone and the Utah Jazz. The Chicago Bulls lost to the Utah Jazz in Game 1 despite a 33-point outing from Air Jordan. But as we know now, the Bulls would ultimately win the series 4-2 to capture their sixth championship. This historic run by one of the greatest teams in sports history was captured in the docuseries.
The documentary was well-received because fans gained insight about the behind-the-scenes workings of MJ and the Bulls franchise. The Bulls of that era were brought to life for the younger generation with first-hand perspectives from the players on that historic team. The docuseries opens the doors for many other historic sports teams to tell their stories, directing their own projects based on their own narratives.
The previous record for a sports jersey sold at an auction was $9.3 million, and it was worn by Diego Maradona, the iconic Argentinian soccer player and manager. That jersey was the one he wore when he scored his iconic “Hand of God” goal versus England in a quarterfinal of the 1986 World Cup. Jordan’s iconic jersey moment happened 12 years later.
We will begin to see a lot of jerseys and memorabilia being sold for a higher price. Apparel like the jersey Kobe Bryant wore when he dropped 81 against the Raptors could be one that topples Jordan’s ‘98 Finals jersey.
Sotheby’s also will continue to up the ante by auctioning off high-value items as well. When announcing the sale of the Jordan jersey, they called it “a new generation of collectors,” explaining that in addition to physical auctions, they have pushed to “modernize, auctioning NFTs and even boasting its own metaverse location,” according to NBC Sports.
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