Michael Jordan's backboard-shattering sneakers sell for $615,000
Michael Jordan is not only a lock for the greatest basketball player of all time, he's one of the most globally influential sports figures in history. His fabled career is peppered with storybook moments so perfect that you'd think they were cheesy fiction if you hadn't seen them happening in the moment.
The shot. The flu game. The hand-switching layup. The double-nickel game. The free-throw line dunks. The thermonuclear 63-point playoff performance against Boston. Humbling the Bad Boy Pistons. Wagging the finger at Mutombo. Crushing it on Ewing's head. The six titles. The three retirements. The day he made it clear he was the Dream Team's daddy. Whatever the hell you'd call that gymnastics routine he unleashed around the entire Nets roster. We could go on all day.
He was mandatory viewing for sports fans in the 80s and 90s, the Chicago Bulls were a cultural phenomenon, and Jordan's unprecedented global fame elevated the entire game of basketball along with his own name around the world. There remains to this day no player that can do what MJ could do, or with such style.
Jordan's value as an endorser of Nike products remains as powerful as his game was. The Air Jordan brand was utterly fetishized in its heyday, and still commands a remarkable market share around 15 percent of all athletic shoes sold in the US, eclipsed only by Nike itself. Jordan more or less launched the entire "sneakerhead" culture that flourishes to this day. Back in May, buoyed by the Last Dance documentary on Netflix, a pair of game-worn Air Jordan 1s sold at auction for US$672,000 ($560,000 plus buyers premium) to set a new world auction record for any footwear.
Today, another pair went off for $615,000 ($500,000 plus buyers premium). That's shy of the record set in May, but these sneakers do have a tale to tell. They're also game-worn Air Jordan 1s from 1985, signed, but they have a splinter of glass in them from a shattered backboard.
Breaking the backboard was the NBA equivalent of slaying a dragon back in the early days of the sport, a mythical event that happened incredibly rarely and was spoken of in hushed tones. 300-pound, 7-foot-1 behemoth Shaquille O'Neal more or less put an end to the practice when he tore one backboard clean off and then destroyed the entire supporting stanchion of another in 1993, and the league moved to make them virtually indestructible in the name of safety.
Michael Jordan was more a finesse guy than a power player, and many people don't know he smashed a backboard of his own, because it happened in Trieste, Italy, in August of 1985 at an exhibition game. Remarkably, he managed it with a one-hander, causing a cascade of shattered glass to rain down on the defense as Jordan loped away unscathed in typically blessed fashion. You can see that dunk here.
The shoes that sold today were not only signed, but have a fragment of glass embedded in the left sole. A remarkable memory of a next-level athlete.