A pair of shoes worn by – and signed by – none other than Michael Jordan as a UNC rookie are up for auction.
With the current bid at $45,000, the pair of high-top Converse sneakers worn during Jordan’s freshman season from 1981-1982 is up for auction to benefit the University of North Carolina basketball program.
40-year-old Caroline’s white and blue kicks look worn, with dirt on the soles. And while the shoes appear to be in good condition, the tied laces have frayed.
The shoes were gifted by the legendary MJ to Chuck Duckett, the 1982 team’s manager who is a personal friend of Jordan. Duckett set them up for online auction on Heritage Sales website last week.
Duckett, UNC’s administrator from 2013-2021, will donate 50% of auction proceeds to the UNC basketball program. The auction ends on Sunday August 28.
As Duckett met his old friend earlier this year at the 1982 UNC Championship team’s 40th anniversary reunion, he showed Jordan a photo of the pair of his old sneakers.
“He said, ‘These are worth a lot of money,'” Duckett said in an interview with The News & Observer. “I did say, ‘I never really thought about it. Do you want them back?
Jordan now Charlotte Hornets majority ownerlaughed and said no, Duckett recalls, and suggested he sell them.
“I said, ‘Why not auction them off and give half of them to UNC basketball? “, Duckett said. “He was very happy to raise money for the basketball program.
How high will the price go? A pair of distressed Air Jordan sneakers worn during his 1984-85 season with the Chicago Bulls sold at auction for $420,000 last June.
History of shoes
Jordan’s Converses were worn in his first season, which ended memorably with Jordan scoring an epic winning and perfect jump shot which culminated in a 63-62 victory in an NCAA championship game over Georgetown University which included Patrick Ewing among its roster.
Jordan wore them among several that he and other players received — probably around 10 pairs each season — and also wore them while walking around the UNC campus, according to Duckett.
“Michael loved the shoes,” Duckett recalled. “He really liked the shoes and he liked them to look good. He always has, and he still does. In first year, no one had any money, so you wore whatever was free.
The Tar Heels haven’t been given as many shoes in a season as college players do now, which Duckett says is now about 20 to 30 pairs a year.
“Jordan is excited about the auction and thinks it’s cool because like me, he thinks they could have been the first pair that came out,” Duckett said.
Duckett is almost certain the shoes for sale were one of two pairs worn in Jordan’s first game as a freshman in Charlotte against the Kansas Jayhawks on Nov. 28, 1981.
“I’m pretty sure about that,” Duckett insists. “But I couldn’t swear and tell you that’s absolutely the case because he could have worn the other pair.”
‘Stroke of luck’
Duckett’s sister-in-law, Mary Eliza Duckett, kept the shoes in her High Point home for more than 30 years after Chuck Duckett gave them to her.
“It’s a stroke of luck that she kept them for so long,” Duckett said.
Mr. Air Jordan ensured the authenticity of the shoes. Duckett mailed them to his home in Jupiter, Florida, to verify that they were his and so he could personally sign both shoes with his name and a simple message: “Best Wishes.”
The inside ankles of the shoes show the correct “12 1/2” size markings for Jordan in his college years. According to a description of the auction item, his feet grew bigger as he gained weight and suffered an early professional ankle injury. The number “23” has been written in marker inside each tongue tag.
Jordan wore Converse for his entire college career before UNC began issuing Nikes in the 1990s.
The Duckett family will receive half of the proceeds from the auction, part of which will be donated to charity, he said.
“Any money raised from this is good,” Duckett said. “Most people laughed and said to (my sister-in-law): ‘Why don’t you throw this thing away? I’m glad she didn’t.