On the 25th anniversary of Michael Jordan’s iconic game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, the sneakers he wore one season earlier in the infamous “Flu Game” sold for more than $1 million.
Despite subsequent revelations from Jordan’s trainer and “The Last Dance” documentary that he wasn’t actually ailed by the flu in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals — “The Food Poisoning Game” doesn’t pack the same wallop — the sneakers that Jordan wore that night have sold for $1.38 million (including buyer’s premium) with collectibles marketplace Goldin. The shoes sold at auction on Wednesday.
Jordan had 38 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in more than 44 minutes that night to lead the Bulls past the Jazz in Utah. Then he gave his signed sneakers to Jazz ball boy Preston Truman, who’d curried favor with Jordan by bringing him applesauce before games. (Truman was photographed receiving the signed kicks from Jordan, but additional photo-matching was done by MeiGray and Sports Investors Authentication; there’s also a letter of authenticity from Truman.) The Bulls went on to clinch the 1997 title in six games.
Truman held onto the shoes for 15 years before consigning them to Grey Flannel Auctions in 2013; when they sold for $104,765, it demolished the record for game-worn shoes across sports.
Ten years later, the same sneakers have appreciated by more than 1,200%, but still fell short of the all-time record for a pair of sneakers: That still belongs to the Air Jordan XIII Breds that Jordan wore in the second half of Game 2 of the 1998 “Last Dance” NBA Finals, which sold for $2.238 million with Sotheby’s in April. Before that, the previous record paid for sneakers also belonged to Jordan-worn kicks: the Jordan Air Ships worn during his rookie season, which sold for $1.472 million also with Sotheby’s in 2021.
But while Jordan’s “Flu Game” sneakers might not be his priciest keepsake, they arguably might be his most notable. In a promotional video, Ken Goldin, the founder and executive chairman of Goldin, said, “‘The Flu Game’ shoes are the most important [game-used Jordan] shoes to hit the market — period.”