Basketball

Michael Jordan memorabilia soar in value amid The Last Dance nostalgia

The immense global success of the documentary "The Last Dance" amid the coronavirus lockdown has boosted sales of collectibles related to NBA icon Michael Jordan, some of which are trading in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"Timing is everything," says Jordan Geller, a collector who will be richer by at least US$240,000 (S$342,000), thanks to the sale of a pair of Air Jordan 1 sneakers at Sotheby's.

It is the first model created by Nike especially for Michael Jordan, who made his NBA debut in 1984.

The game-worn pair could set an auction record for sneakers set last year by Nike's Moon Shoe, a pair of which sold for US$437,500.

The various Air Jordans have been popular with collectors for 30 years, along with jerseys and trading cards featuring Jordan - who won six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls and is widely considered the greatest player in league history.

Many specialists consider Jordan a key figure in creating the market for collectible sneakers, with only non-sports personalities such as rappers Kanye West and Travis Scott able to compete with him today.

But ESPN's 10-part documentary "The Last Dance" which weaves details of Jordan's entire career through the narrative of the Bulls' pursuit of a sixth NBA title, has ramped up interest in all things Jordan.

"This is a game-changer," Chris Ivy, director of sports collectibles at Heritage Auctions, said of the documentary series that is carried globally by Netflix.

"I haven't seen anything like this, where it's well past his career," Ivy added, noting Jordan retired in 2003.

On the StockX shoe resale platform, the Air Jordan 1 Chicago model now sells for up to US$1,500, compared to US$900 in March.

Likewise, a 1986 Fleer collector's card sold for US$96,000 in early May at Heritage, an item that was worth US$20,000 to US$30,000 at the beginning of the year.

Even younger fans, weaned on the exploits of the late Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, are feeling the allure of Jordan.

"The majority of our customers are millennials and Gen Z, many of whom were not necessarily alive when Jordan played," StockX economist Jesse Einhorn said.

"It's a testament to Jordan's staying power as an iconic, almost like mythical, cultural figure." - AFP

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