‘Banned’ 1984 Prototype Nike Air Jordan Sneakers Fetch Over $325,000 At Auction

The basketball sneakers that literally changed the game scored hundreds of thousands at auction. A pair of 1984 Michael Jordan Player Sample Prototype Banned Nike “Air Jordan” sneakers sold for $325,085 at Grey Flannel Auctions. It’s the first time these banned Air Jordans were made public.

1984 Michael Jordan Player Sample Prototype Banned Nike 'Air Jordan' Black & Red 1 Shoes
1984 Michael Jordan Player Sample Prototype Banned Nike ‘Air Jordan’ Black & Red 1 Shoes. (credit: Grey Flannel Auctions)

There were 17 bids before the auction ended on Monday.

“These are arguably the most important individual pair of sneakers ever to be publicly offered. Michael Jordan single handedly reshaped sports marketing by way of his revolutionary endeavors with Nike, who in 1984, took a longshot on him, which turned out to be a win that no one (maybe aside from Michael and Mrs. Jordan) could have ever predicted. There is no more recognizable brand in the world today,” Grey Flannel Auctions wrote in the description lot.

A college basketball team in Oregon tested out these prototype Nike Air Jordans in 1984. Nike ended up giving the college basketball coach these pair of sneakers, who went on to give them to the consignor. The consignor stored and preserved these one-of-a-kind sneakers for 40 years before they were made public at auction.

During the mid-1980s, the NBA had a rule that shoes must be 51 percent white and in accordance with the sneakers that the rest of the team was wearing. However, these prototype Air Jordans were black and red, matching the Chicago Bulls’ colors.

“Nike designed the Air Jordan I based on the Chicago Bulls colorway and intentionally paid the subsequent fines imposed by the NBA (approximately $15,000 per game in today’s terms). Nike had taken advantage of this marketing opportunity with the Air Jordan I ‘Banned’ advertisement. Nike created a revolutionary new basketball shoe,” notes Grey Flannel Auctions.

However, on Oct. 18, 1984, the NBA threw the prototype Air Jordan sneakers out of the game for defying its shoe rule. That didn’t stop Nike from releasing the Air Jordan sneaker line in 1985 — earning $126 million in their first year.

1984 Michael Jordan Player Sample Prototype Banned Nike 'Air Jordan.'
1984 Michael Jordan Player Sample Prototype Banned Nike ‘Air Jordan.’ (credit: Grey Flannel Auctions)

“The pair of sneakers offered here, are the birth of the Jordan brand, predating the ‘Jumpman’ and ‘wings’ logos, simply marked ‘Air Jordan,'” the description lot reads. “The left sneaker is a size 13 and the right size 13.5, which was a trademark of Jordan, custom ordered to his unique requirements. The promo-code inside the heel of the left shoe reads ‘13 BH-101684-A-TY’ and the right, reading ‘131/2 BH-101684-A-TY’. The outside of each heel is stamped ‘AIR JORDAN’ in black. ‘NIKE’ with the underlying Swoosh logo on the tongues. Black and red ‘BRed’ colorway.”

In February, a set of six individual sneakers worn by Jordan during the clinching games of his six career NBA championships sold for $8 million, setting a global auction record for game-worn sneakers. Earlier this month, Jordan’s 2003-04 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Game-Used Chicago Bulls Logoman Autograph 1/1 sold for $2.928 million, making it the most expensive MJ basketball card of all-time.

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