Up Next

These are the most expensive game-worn basketball shoes ever auctioned

Five of the pairs were Nikes worn by Michael Jordan

Before the six rings, before being heralded as the greatest of all time, before Phil Jackson was his coach, Michael Jordan broke a bone in his left foot during the third game of his sophomore NBA campaign. Against the advice of team doctors, he played the final 17 games of the season. His Airness sported a pair of customized Air Jordan 1s that featured a leather and fabric fastener strap as well as a nylon and aluminum buckle to provide additional ankle support.

The number of games in which these shoes were worn is unknown. But they had been ditched well before Jordan famously hung 63 on the Boston Celtics.

On Nov. 19, a pair of these customized sneakers sold for $55,000 on Heritage Auctions. You read that right. Fifty-five thousand dollars. Because of their context and exclusivity — Heritage estimates that only two pairs still exist — the shoes were originally estimated to fetch somewhere between $20,000 and $25,000. Jordan’s defeat of the Monstars should be worth something, right?

Spending a year’s worth of college tuition on game-worn sneakers may seem absurd. It is, however, safe to assume that some people get a kick out of paying thousands of dollars for sneakers soaked in 48 minutes worth of foot sweat.

Below is a list of the most expensive auctioned game shoes. (Disclaimer: There is another pair of Jordan 1s that sold for $31,070, but we included Stephen Curry’s to avoid repeats.)

(1) Converse Fastbreaks

  • Worn by: Michael Jordan
  • When: Gold Medal Game USA vs. Spain in the 1984 Summer Olympics
  • Price: $190,373
  • Sold: June

As faithfully as Prince donned high-neck ruffled blouses in Purple Rain, Jordan rocked Converses throughout college. He signed with Nike in October 1984, but Nike wasn’t his first choice — he preferred both Adidas and Converse over the Swoosh.

Rocking the Fastbreaks, Jordan scored 20 points en route to a 96-65 rout of Spain in the gold medal game. Nearly 30 years later, the same shoes sold for a record-shattering $190,373. With that I could perm my hair, buy a customized 1981 Honda CB400A “Hondamatic” and Prince’s jacket, and still have enough gas money to get me to the purifying waters of Lake Minnetonka.

(2) Air Jordan 12s “Flu Game”

  • Worn by: Michael Jordan
  • When: 1997 NBA Finals Game 5 — “The Flu Game”
  • Price: $104,765
  • Sold: December 2013

Contrary to popular belief, Jordan did not actually have the flu during this matchup against the Utah Jazz. According to Jordan’s trainer, Tim Grover, Jordan was actually suffering from food poisoning. Fatigued and barely able to support himself, Jordan still scored 38 points on the way to securing a 3-2 series lead.

Obviously, Jordan had been listening to the opening line of “Hypnotize” on repeat.

(3) Nike Air Ships

  • Worn by: Michael Jordan
  • When: Rookie season game against the Los Angeles Lakers
  • Price: $71,554
  • Sold: April 2015

While waiting for his signature sneakers to be completed, Jordan rocked a pair of Nikes that somewhat resembled the Air Jordan 1s. A common misconception in the sneaker world centers on the belief that this shoe was actually banned by the NBA. However, it was the Air Ships that were not allowed.

NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik wrote Jordan a letter stating that the black-and-red shoes violated the uniform code. The letter, however, is dated Oct. 18, months before Jordan donned the 1s in a game. This misunderstanding was also perpetuated by one of the dopest Jordan commercials to date.

(4) C’s “Olympic”

  • Worn by: Michael Jordan
  • When: 1992 Barcelona Olympics
  • Price: $52,580
  • Sold: May 2016

The Dream Team was the greatest collection of basketball players ever assembled. With 11 Hall of Famers, an average win margin of 43.8 points and a combined 23 NBA titles, the team was so star-studded that Jordan didn’t even lead them in scoring.

No matter how great this team was, dropping 50 racks for a pair of shoes that Jordan didn’t average 15 points per game in is totally out of the question … unless they can make me do this:

(5) Air Jordan 1s

  • Worn by: Michael Jordan
  • When: Spring 1985 (Jordan’s rookie season)
  • Price: $39,600
  • Sold: October 2016

To this day, the Portland Trail Blazers’ selection of Sam Bowie with the second overall pick in the 1984 NBA draft remains one of the worst blunders in basketball history. Why? Because Jordan went third.

In his first season, Jordan averaged 28.2 points per game and led the Chicago Bulls to the playoffs, earning both his first of 14 All-Star appearances as well as Rookie of the Year honors. Bowie averaged 10 PPG and was never named an All-Star during his 10-year career.

(6) Nike Hyperdunks

  • Worn by: Kobe Bryant
  • When: 2008 Beijing Olympics
  • Price: $37,740.70
  • Sold: April 2014

To fully grasp the significance of these sneakers, you must go back four months before the Olympics and examine the landscape of the 2008 basketball shoe industry. At a time when players began to push for lighter shoes, the Hyperdunks symbolized Nike’s commitment to producing gear “engineered to the exact specifications of championship athletes.” The sneakers were equipped with the recently developed Flywire and Lunarlon cushioning, technology that reduced the bulk of the shoes and heavily influenced the next generation of Nike Basketball kicks, according to SOLECOLLECTOR.

Besides this advanced technology, Nike commissioned Kobe Bryant to create a commercial that epitomized the lightness of the shoes. The Black Mamba did so by leaping over an Aston Martin. Couple the classic advertisement with a vintage Kobe performance in the gold medal game while rocking the Hyperdunks and the $37,000 price seems justified. Kind of.

(7) Air Jordan XIs “Bred”

  • Worn by: Michael Jordan
  • When: 1996 NBA Finals Game 3
  • Price: $34,160
  • Sold: November 2015

It takes a special type of talent to win an NBA championship, retire from the association, sign a contract with the Chicago White Sox, then un-retire a year later just to win three more rings.

In his first full season back, Jordan led the Bulls to a 72-10 record during the regular season on the road to capturing his fourth ring. Rocking the notorious Bred XIs, Jordan scored 36 in the Game 3 rout of the Seattle Supersonics that gave the Bulls a decisive 3-0 lead. To many, the XIs were one of the best shoes ever worn in an NBA game.

(8) Under Armour Curry 3s “Oakland Strong”

  • Worn by: Stephen Curry
  • When: Dec. 15, 2016
  • Price: $30,101
  • Sold: December 2016

Despite being deemed the best shooter of all time, the Baby-Faced Assassin has still struggled to sell shoes, as evidenced by Twitter ruthlessness after images of the Curry Two Chefs surfaced in June 2016.

While the court of popular opinion has deemed the shoes hideous, it didn’t stop the “Oakland Strong” Curry 3s from fetching more than $30,000 for the Oakland Fire Relief fund. The customized kicks paid tribute to the victims of the Ghost Ship warehouse fire that claimed the lives of 36 people. Besides the “Oakland” and “Strong” scribbled graffiti-style on the left and right shoe, respectively, each person’s initials appeared on the heel and midsole.

These surprisingly hold the record as the highest price for any sneakers worn by a current NBA player.

C. Isaiah Smalls, II is a junior at Morehouse College from Lansing, Mich. He studies Cinema, Television and Emerging Media Studies. He is Editor-in-Chief of The Maroon Tiger.