A pair of shoes reportedly worn by Michael Jordan during his freshman year at North Carolina recently sold for more than $33,000, but it turns out the Converse high-top sneakers were never actually worn by Jordan.
The shoes were sold by the auction house Grey Flannel Auctions, which claimed they were cosigned by a high school teammate of Jordan. They were sold to an anonymous bidder for $33,387 on Thursday, but soon after that, members close to the Tar Heels questioned the authenticity of the auction.
Soon after the auction was closed, Lindsay Reed, a student manager on the team in the year before Jordan’s freshman year, wrote a letter to Grey Flannel, claiming that Jordan never wore the shoes.
“The 1981-1982 UNC basketball team did not wear blue Converse basketball shoes at any point during the… season,” Reed wrote. “I challenge anyone to produce a photograph of a 1981-82 UNC basketball game (home or away) in which any member of the 1981-1982 UNC basketball team is wearing blue Converse shoes. No such photo exists.”
The auction house did not have a picture of Michael Jordan wearing the shoes.
Broadcaster Wes Durham, whose father Woody announced Tar Heels games for four decades, later offered his own evidence, tweeting, “The shoe was worn prior to his arrival (’79 to ’81), but don’t recall that model being worn after he arrived.”
The sneakers would have highlighted an interesting period in Jordan’s history. He wore Converse during his years at UNC, after legendary coach Dean Smith was paid $100,000 to have his players wore the shoes. Converse tried to sign Jordan when he turned pro in 1984, but bid only $100,000 to Nike’s $500,000. Jordan signed with Nike and went on to sell more than $2.5 billion worth of sneakers annually for Nike.
These are not the first pair of Michael Jordan’s sneakers to fetch a big price. Grey Flannel sold an autographed pair of shoes Jordan wore in the famous “Flu Game” of the 1997 NBA Finals for $104,765. Another pair that Jordan wore during his NBA rookie year sold for $31,070 in 2013.
Grey Flannel later offered for the anonymous bidder to get their money back for the $33,000 Michael Jordan shoes.
[Image via RushTheCourt.net]