There was a period between when Michael Jordan signed his deal with Nike for a signature sneaker, and the unveiling of the first Air Jordan sneaker, in which Jordan had to figure what exactly he would wear on the court with the Chicago Bulls. As the sports apparel company bought time before revealing the first of what would become the world’s most iconic signature sneaker brand, they gave Jordan a pair of modified Nike Air Ships.
The sneaker was redesigned so that it could share more similarities with the first Air Jordan sneaker, presumably so that the transition between the quasi-prototype and the final product would be smooth. Now, a pair of the sneakers that Jordan had to wear before his first shoe came out are available for auction.
The aged red and white sneakers will be available on Christie’s Auction House starting on July 30 as part of a series of items for sale that include sneakers Jordan has worn in games throughout his career. Per the listing, the expected price is set to be anywhere from $350,000 to $550,000.
“Before the Air Jordan 1 was released, Michael Jordan wore the Nike Air Ship for the NBA preseason and early games of his rookie year. Michael Jordan’s version of the Air Ship was modified exclusively for him in the form of an Air Jordan 1 TYPS MJ PE (Tong Yang Player Sample Michael Jordan Player Exclusive). The design features the upper of the Air Ship with the sole of the Air Jordan 1. Sourced from a New Jersey Nets equipment manager. Since Jordan wore the Air Ship only for a brief time early in his rookie season, to find a game-worn pair today is extremely rare.”
The auction will close on Aug. 13. Other items include a game-worn pair of shoes used during the 1992 Olympics, and a pair of shoes worn during practice in between games of the 1998 NBA Finals.