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Pair of Michael Jordan's game-worn shoes from rookie year up for auction

Pair of Michael Jordan's game-worn shoes from rookie year up for auction
The shoes were worn by Jordan during only his fifth game in the league, on November 1, 1984 -- a road contest versus the Denver Nuggets that the Bulls lost 129-113. Photo courtesy Sotheby's

Oct. 8 (UPI) -- One of the first pairs of shoes that NBA legend Michael Jordan wore during his rookie season in 1984 is going up for auction on Friday, and it's expected to fetch as much as $1.5 million -- and they're not even Air Jordans.

The red and white sneakers, known as Nike Air Ships, were the first regular shoes Nike made for Jordan in his first year.

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The shoes are game-worn and signed by Jordan, and are the earliest known shoes to be worn by the basketball star during the 1984-85 regular season, his first in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls.

The shoes were worn by Jordan during only his fifth game in the league, on Nov. 1, 1984 -- a road contest versus the Denver Nuggets that the Bulls lost 129-113. Jordan scored 17 points in the game and shot 7 for 15 from the field.

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That night, Bulls head coach Kevin Loughery admitted that Jordan "didn't play very well," UPI reported at the time.

"Once we got beat by him, we'd go right back after him," Denver guard Mike Evans said after the game that night, before making quite an accurate assessment of Jordan's future in the league.

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"There's no question he'll be a great player after a few years."

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Sotheby's is running the bidding on Friday, and it's expected break the record for a sneaker sold at auction -- a game-worn 1985 Nike Air Jordan I, which sold for $615,000.

The owner of the shoes is Tommie Tim III Lewis, who was a ball boy for the Nuggets in 1984 and received them from Jordan himself after the game.

It wasn't until Jordan's second season, 1985-86, that Nike gave him the first model in the Air Jordan line, now known as the Air Jordan I.

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"The Nike Air Ship is a key part of the Air Jordan brand genesis," Sotheby's said in a statement. "When Michael joined the NBA, the Air Jordan I was still not ready for him. He preferred sneakers that were lower to the ground, where he could feel the court beneath his feet.

"In the process of creating the Air Jordan I, Nike supplied Jordan a limited number of Nike Air Ships -- some of which had 'Air Jordan' or 'Nike Air' printed on the heels. This pair, featuring just 'Air' is an unusual example."

Every season since 1985, Nike and Jordan have released a new version of the Air Jordan, even now when he's no longer playing. The most recent model, the Air Jordan XXXVI, was released in August.

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