Despite it’s low profile, there’s little doubt left that the Nike Air Ship is one of the most important sneakers of all time.
Before Jordan Brand and the Air Jordan line were created, Michael Jordan wore the aforementioned model as a Nike-endorsed athlete during his rookie campaign in the 1984-85 NBA season, but the league was opposed to the shoe’s striking black and red colorway and prohibited him from wearing it on the court. The brand took the incident as a marketing opportunity by releasing ads about the Air Jordan 1 being banned from the league. That myth stood for decades before it was discovered that the NBA barred Jordan from wearing the Air Ship. Now, one of his original pairs is hitting the auction block—and acquiring the pair will be costly.
Today, Sotheby’s announced its “Icons of Excellence & Haute Luxury” auction and among the items that will be up for grabs is an original version of the Air Ship that has been game-worn and signed by MJ himself. A limited number of pairs were given to Jordan to wear for his rookie season, many of which featured “Air Jordan” or “Nike Air” branding on the heel, but this specific pair is stamped with “Air.” The shoe was originally given to former Denver Nuggets ball boy, Tommie Tim III Lewis.
The “Icons of Excellence & Haute Luxury” auction will take place live from MGM’s Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on Oct. 24. Sotheby’s estimates this Nike Air Ship will fetch between $1 million to $1.5 million, which is the highest estimated price for a pair of sneakers ever offered at an auction.