This past Saturday, one of Michael Jordan’s game-worn jerseys from his days at the University of North Carolina smashed previous sale records, fetching $1.38 million through Heritage Auctions.
The auction prices for game-worn Jordan gear have been reaching record levels in the wake of ESPN's The Last Dance, though the final sale value of the 1982-83 season jersey is noteworthy due to the fact that it was nearly three times the previous record for a game-worn MJ jersey.
According to USA Today, the previous record had been set in October when a No. 23 Chicago Bulls jersey from 1986-87 went for $480,000. A lot has changed since then, and according to the auction house, there's a lot that makes this particular game-worn jersey a particularly sound investment.
“It’s got scarcity, it’s one of a kind, it’s photo-matched,” Heritage director of sport auctions Chris Ivy told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s a great investment. That’s another angle. It’s something that you’re investing in. I think this is as solid as it gets.”
The “photo-matched” jersey in question is from the Sporting News magazine “Player of the Year” cover photo from that season. The honor is widely considered the equivalent of football's Heisman Trophy. Since the paper began the tradition in 1943, the award has been bestowed upon hardcourt icons including George Mikan, Oscar Robertson, Lew Alcindor, and Pete Maravich.
The Carolina blue mesh garment is trimmed in white, with the most famous digits in basketball sandwiched between 2.25" block lettering announcing "North Carolina" on the chest. The text on the back reading "Jordan" shrinks to a diminutive 1.75", arching above another number "23." According to the description, “strong, consistent wear is apparent throughout, every tackle twill identifier and the maker's label supple to the touch from a repeated cycle of sweaty wear and laundering.”
The visible wear is what contributed to it becoming the most expensive Jordan jersey sale ever. “This garment memorializes the season that Jordan dropped the Mike and became Michael,” reads the auction description, ”the living embodiment of basketball greatness, a builder of empires.”
For a roundup of other game-worn Michael Jordan pieces and what they were sold for, head here.