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(Courtesy photo) | Preston Truman Michael Jordan sits on the Chicago Bulls bench at the Delta Center during the "Flu Game," in which he led the bulls to a 3-2 NBA Finals lead on June 11, 1997. Seated on the floor at right is former Utah Jazz ballboy Preston Truman.
Jazz ball boy’s Michael Jordan shoes fetch $105K at auction
First Published Dec 12 2013 11:35 am • Last Updated Dec 12 2013 06:49 pm

Bidding went into overtime Wednesday night, and when the buzzer sounded, the shoes Michael Jordan wore during his legendary "flu game" sold for $104,765.

It’s the best trade anybody has ever made for applesauce cups.

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In case you missed the backstory, then-Utah Jazz ballboy Preston Truman cultivated a relationship with His Airness during the 1996-97 season by first scouring the Delta Center and later grocery shopping for MJ’s pregame staple: applesauce and graham crackers. Then, while the rest of the world wondered if an ailing Jordan would play against the Jazz in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Truman worked up the nerve to ask him for his shoes.

Sixteen years later, ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell reports that the size 13s — socks included — have become the priciest athletic footwear in history. Bidding hit $60,000 within days of its Nov. 18 opening, and a last-minute flurry caused Grey Flannel Auctions to extend the auction until late Wednesday night. The winning bid, Rovell reports, was more than three times the previous record for game-worn shoes, set last month on a pair from Jordan’s rookie season that sold for $31,070.

"I’m a competitive person, so that excited me more than anything," says Truman. He was told by the auctioneer that there were international bidders and is eager to know who bought the shoes. "It’s got to be somebody with an incredible amount of disposable income."

Online betting site Bovada had set the over/under on the sale price at $80,000, but a Chicago sports memorabilia expert told Truman on a radio show days before the opening that due to a flood of fakes on the market he could expect about $15,000. Truman credits his photos and the attention his story received for increasing buyer confidence.

So what will Truman do with the money?

"It’s so boring, honestly," he says. "I’m such a conservative guy. I’ve always been very smart with my money."

After taxes and the auction house’s fee (which they wouldn’t disclose), Truman says it’s not as much as you might think. He’ll put some of it into his children’s college savings account. He may get a new car, and they may go to Disneyland. They typically buy presents for needy families at Christmas, and this year he expects they’ll be more generous than usual.

And then he’ll just be left with his story. Cue the MasterCard slogan.


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mpiper@sltrib.com

Twitter: @matthew_piper



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