A pair of shoes worn by a freshman Michael Jordan at the University of North Carolina are for sale. These quality Converse sneakers are being auctioned for $100,000, and part of the proceeds will benefit the Tar Heels’ basketball program. The worn sneakers are now 40 years old. However, they are in decent condition, although the knotted shoelaces show signs of fraying.
Jordan gifted the shoes to Chuck Duckett, his former roommate and the team manager, in 1982. Duckett, who served as a UNC trustee from 2013-21, put the shoes up for auction online.
The history of Michael Jordan’s Converse shoes
Jordan wore these Converse sneakers during his freshman year basketball season, as Robb Report reports. During this season, Jordan made a memorable jump shot that led to a 63-62 win against Georgetown University in the NCAA championship. According to Duckett, Jordan also wore the shoes around campus.
The interior ankles of the shoes are marked size “12 ½,” and have the No. 23 on the interior of each tongue tag. This was Jordan’s size during his college years. However, as he gained muscle and weight, his foot size increased. Jordan wore Converse shoes throughout college before UNC started using Nike in the ’90s.
Also, according to Duckett, the shoes were one of the two pairs Jordan wore in 1981 during his first game as a freshman in Charlotte against the Kansas Jayhawks.
Later, Duckett gave the shoes to his sister-in-law, Mary Eliza, who kept them until last year, according to Inside Carolina. She kept the shoes at her home in High Point for more than three decades after receiving them from Duckett. It is only out of luck that Eliza kept the shoes for so long.
How Michael Jordan’s Converse shoes resurfaced
The shoes resurfaced and became a topic of interest during the 40th anniversary reunion of the UNC 1982 team that won the national title. The celebration was held on January 29, 2022 at the Dean E. Smith Center. Jordan and Duckett were seated side by side in the front seats, reports The News & Observer. The former team manager showed Jordan pictures of his old shoes.
Jordan immediately recognized them and said they were worth a lot of money. Duckett said his sister-in-law owned them, and he suggested the idea of putting them up for auction and giving part of the money to UNC basketball. Jordan liked the idea.
Later, Duckett sent the old Converse sneakers to Jordan in Jupiter, Florida. MJ verified, signed, and delivered them back to his old friend. He signed the pair with his name and “best wishes.”
Heritage Auctions received the contract to oversee the auction process, and bidding was set to close on August 28th. According to Heritage’s valuation, the pair would fetch $100,000. But Yahoo News says that on the 27th, an unknown buyer put in a bid for $120,000.
Mary Eliza, whose family put up the shoes for auction, said they were thrilled with the amount, and half of the proceeds would go to the UNC basketball program.
Last year, Jordan’s shoes that he used as a rookie in the NBA season fetched $1.47 million at the auction. Similarly, last June, a pair of old Air Jordan sneakers he used in the 1984–85 season while playing for the Chicago Bulls raked in $420,000.