Utah Jazz ball boy Alex Rodriguez wouldn’t take money from Michael Jordan, so MJ came up with another way to pay him for two tickets to a sold-out Jazz-Chicago Bulls game in 1993: His shoes.
SCP Auctions is featuring a pair of Michael Jordan’s game-used Nike shoes from 1993 in its current 2017 Fall Premier online auction. The unique acquisition of these shoes – from a former ball boy with the Utah Jazz – is a story worth telling. Now open for bidding through Sat., Nov. 4, at www.scpauctions.com, the current high bid on this particular pair of shoes is $6,430 with two days to go. They are expected to exceed $15,000 once bidding closes.
The significant pair of Jordan’s game-worn Air Jordan VII ‘Cardinal’ sneakers are from the Chicago Bulls’ thrilling 96-92 road victory over the host Utah Jazz on Feb. 1, 1993. The scene inside the Delta Center was very tense that day, not just because it pitted two of the NBA’s top teams, but mainly because Jordan had recently made disparaging comments about Salt Lake City as the host of the upcoming ’93 All-Star game. Jazz fans booed him vigorously every time he touched the ball. All that did was fire “Air Jordan” up.
Jordan even made an incredible half-court shot to beat the first half buzzer, nodding to the crowd in a sarcastic show of thanks. Chicago trailed by 20 points in the final seconds of the third quarter and were still down by 13 with six minutes left. That’s when “His Airness” took over, scoring 20 points himself in the final 8:45 and willing his team to the four-point victory. He finished with 37 points on 13-28 shooting and seven rebounds, overshadowing a 40-point effort from Jazz star Karl Malone.
The story behind the acquisition of these shoes, however, is one worth telling. Former Utah Jazz ball boy, Alex Rodriguez, who had befriended the superstar on previous trips to Utah, was working in the visitor’s locker room prior to the game and overheard Jordan asking about extra tickets to that night’s game.
“He needed two extra tickets and not even the Utah Jazz ticket manager had any left,” recalls Rodriguez. “I sat next to Jordan and told him he could have my two tickets since the ball boys each received two to every game. He was very thankful and said he wanted to buy them from me. I told him, ‘No, you can just have them.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Okay, then you can have my shoes after the game.’”
When the game ended, Jordan was swarmed in the visiting locker room. “You couldn’t even see him what with all of the reporters. Suddenly he just stood up and called over to me. He asked the reporters to move and it was like Moses parting the Red Sea. I walked up through the gauntlet of reporters and he signed the shoes and said: ‘Here, Alex. Thank you very much. You are very kind.’ I said thanks and took off with the shoes and hid them in my locker.”
The size 13 shoes are the rare Air Jordan VII ‘Cardinal’ style heavily coveted by collectors. White with red and black accents, they sport a silhouetted Michael Jordan flying in for a slam dunk embroidered in gold on each ankle. Both shoes include Jordan’s patented number “23” in raised white numbers on the heels positioned on top of a red and black triangular motif. “AIR JORDAN” is embroidered in black into both white tongues and they are both properly tagged on the interior with “920112FT2”. The shoes have each been signed by Michael on the outer rear area in black marker just below the embroidered gold silhouette. The shoes show evident court use and are properly tagged and structurally sound, with their original white laces.
Bidding is open to registered bidders only at www.scpauctions.com and closes on Sat., Nov. 4. Please call 949-831-3700 for info. -Terry Melia
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