M ichael Jordan’s name has become synonymous with greatness.
The NBA legend’s unprecedented success as an athlete is well-documented and may never be replicated – 6 NBA championships, 6 Finals MVPs, 5 league MVPs, and 2 Olympic Gold Medals are just a few of Jordan’s on-court accomplishments. Many consider Jordan to be the greatest athlete who ever lived.
Off the court, Jordan’s partnership with Nike to create the massively popular ‘Jordan Brand’ was arguably just as impactful as his basketball achievements. The partnership helped solidify Nike as the world’s biggest sneaker company and ushered in an era of lucrative collaborations between athletes and sneaker companies. His relationship with Nike ultimately helped Jordan become the first NBA player to attain a net worth of $1 billion.
In late 1984, Nike produced the first Air Jordan model – the Air Jordan I – for Jordan to use during his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls. Nike released this model to the general public in 1985. This pattern – produce a new model for Jordan’s use followed by a public release – became the standard in the years that followed. Subsequent models and design innovations therefore developed inextricable ties to various eras and iconic performances throughout Jordan’s legendary career.
Sotheby’s is proud to present The Dynasty Collection, a set of 6 individual Air Jordan sneakers – each one worn by Michael Jordan in the clinching games of his 6 career NBA championships. The set consists of an Air Jordan VI (1991), Air Jordan VII (1992), Air Jordan VIII (1993), Air Jordan XI (1996), Air Jordan XII (1997), and Air Jordan XIV (1998).
This set represents the most valuable and significant collection of Air Jordan sneakers ever brought to market.
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In 15 professional seasons, Michael Jordan led his team to 6 NBA championships. The 6 titles consisted of 2 three-peats (1991-1993 & 1996-1998) with the gap coinciding with Jordan’s brief retirement and pursuit of a professional baseball career.
Jordan developed a reputation for consistently spectacular performances in the playoffs and particularly the NBA Finals. This is evident in his perfect 6-0 Finals record and the fact that he never recorded fewer than 20 points in a Finals game. Most notably, Jordan received the Finals MVP award following all 6 championships, a feat which has never been matched before or since.
1991 | Chicago Bulls v. Los Angeles Lakers
In Jordan’s first NBA Finals appearance, the Chicago Bulls squared off against Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers. While the Bulls had never previously reached the Finals, the Lakers were attempting to collect their 6th title since 1980. After years of frustrating playoff exits, Jordan would not be denied. Following a Game 1 loss in Chicago, the Bulls recovered to win the next three games and force a potential series-clinching Game 5.
On June 12, 1991, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls claimed the franchise’s first NBA title with a 108-101 Game 5 victory over the Lakers at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. The victory marked the official beginning of the Chicago Bulls dynasty that would come to dominate the NBA throughout the 1990s.
Jordan recorded 30 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, 5 steals, and 2 blocks in the championship-sealing win, wearing this Air Jordan VI.
1992 | Chicago Bulls v. Portland Trail Blazers
The defending champion Bulls returned to the NBA Finals and faced Clyde Drexler and the Portland Trail Blazers. A month prior, Sports Illustrated declared that Drexler was Jordan’s ‘No. 1 rival’ on the cover of its May 11, 1992 issue. Though the two teams split the first four games of the series, the Bulls earned a decisive victory in Game 5 in Portland to set the stage for another Bulls championship in Game 6.
On June 14, 1992, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls defeated the Trail Blazers 97-93 in Game 6 at Chicago Stadium in Chicago, Illinois to repeat as NBA champions. Despite trailing by 15 points entering the 4th quarter, the Bulls outscored the Blazers 33-14 in the final 12 minutes to secure the championship. The comeback win marked Jordan’s first championship-clinching victory in Chicago.
Jordan scored a game-high 33 points and added 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals in the victory, wearing this Air Jordan VII.
1993 | Chicago Bulls v. Phoenix Suns
Despite winning back-to-back NBA championships and leading the Bulls back to the Finals for the third consecutive year, Michael Jordan did not win the 1992-93 NBA MVP. The award instead went to Charles Barkley, a member of the Phoenix Suns and Jordan’s opponent in the 1993 NBA Finals. After the comparisons to Clyde Drexler the year before, Jordan once again sought to prove that no other player was on his level.
The Bulls raced out to a 3-2 series lead with Game 6 set for June 20, 1993 at America West Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. In a thrilling game, Jordan and the Bulls outlasted the Suns 99-98 to complete the three-peat.
Jordan recorded a game-high 33 points and added 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1 steal in the win, wearing this Air Jordan VIII.
1996 | Chicago Bulls v. Seattle SuperSonics
After the first three-peat, Jordan retired from basketball to pursue a career in professional baseball. But when the MLB players went on strike in 1994, Jordan refused to cross the picket line. He ultimately returned to the Bulls in March of 1995. In the 1995-96 season – Jordan’s first full NBA season since 1992-93 – Jordan and the Bulls won a then-NBA record 72 games and made their fourth NBA Finals appearance of the decade. This time the opponent was the Seattle SuperSonics.
While the Sonics featured All-Stars Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton, Jordan and the Bulls had extra motivation following their uncharacteristic early exit in the 1995 playoffs. Determined to reassert their dominance over the NBA, Jordan willed the Bulls back to the mountaintop.
In Game 6, played at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois on June 16, 1996, Jordan and the Bulls clinched their fourth NBA championship with a 87-75 victory. The championship-clinching victory notably occurred on Father’s Day and was a particularly emotional game for Jordan, who was playing in his first NBA Finals since his father’s tragic death in July of 1993.
Jordan scored 22 points and added 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals in the emotional victory, wearing this Air Jordan XI.
1997 | Chicago Bulls v. Utah Jazz
The 1997 Finals pitted the Chicago Bulls against a Utah Jazz team that boasted a couple Hall of Famers in John Stockton and Karl Malone. The series also featured one of Jordan’s most iconic performances, popularly referred to as the ‘Flu Game.’
Prior to Game 5, with the series tied at two games apiece, Jordan became seriously ill. Announcer Marv Albert famously declared that Jordan was suffering from ‘flu-like symptoms’ but Jordan himself later suggested in the hit Netflix documentary The Last Dance that he actually may have been battling a severe case of food poisoning from a rotten pizza. In any case, Jordan miraculously battled through visible discomfort to score 38 points and lead the Bulls to a massive victory, setting up a potentially decisive Game 6 back in Chicago.
On June 13, 1997, Jordan and the Chicago Bulls defeated the Utah Jazz 90-86 in Game 6 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois to clinch their fifth NBA championship in seven years.
In another memorable clutch Finals performance, Jordan registered a game-high 39 points to go along with 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block, wearing this Air Jordan XII.
1998 | Chicago Bulls v. Utah Jazz
Often referred to as ‘The Last Dance,’ the 1997-98 NBA season was Michael Jordan’s last with the Chicago Bulls. It is perhaps the most beloved period in Jordan folklore, as he reached the apex of his popularity and powers while simultaneously conquering major internal divisions that were fracturing the team. The players were cognizant that the roster would ultimately be disbanded at the end of the season and knew it was their final opportunity to win one last championship together.
‘The Last Dance’ was Michael Jordan’s ‘magnum opus’ as an athlete – a testament to him as a competitor, a sportsman, a teammate, and ultimately, a champion. The fairytale season culminated in a rematch of the 1997 NBA Finals with the Bulls squaring off against John Stockton, Karl Malone, and the Utah Jazz.
The Bulls took a 3-2 series lead into a pivotal Game 6, which took place on June 14, 1998 at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. In what remains the most-watched game in NBA history, Jordan famously came up with a last-minute steal before sinking an iconic game-winning jumpshot in the closing seconds. It was a picture-perfect ending that only Jordan could have delivered. At the conclusion of the game, his last as a member of the Chicago Bulls, Jordan collected an NBA-record 6th Finals MVP award.
Jordan scored 45 points in the Bulls’ championship-clinching and dynasty-cementing 87-86 victory, wearing this Air Jordan XIV.
Perhaps no other athlete has had the global impact and influence of Michael Jordan. By the end of his NBA career, Jordan’s fanbase stretched far beyond the confines of Chicago – they came from every corner of the world. From being the face of the Jordan Brand to starring in the hit 1996 movie Space Jam, Michael Jordan transcended sport and became a global icon and symbol of success and peak human achievement. Top achievers in all different endeavors were referred to as the Michael Jordan of their field.
Jordan made his debut on the world stage as an amateur basketball player fresh out of the University of North Carolina at the 1984 Olympics. Playing for legendary Indiana coach Bob Knight, Jordan led the United States to the Gold Medal.
Eight years later at the 1992 Games, following a rule change that allowed professionals to participate, Jordan returned to the Olympics as the face of the ‘Dream Team,’ widely considered the greatest sports team ever assembled. The team was the main attraction of the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and elevated Jordan’s global celebrity status to new heights. With the United States decisively defeating all eight of their opponents en route to the Gold Medal, Jordan gained an aura of invincibility. On a team featuring superstars like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Charles Barkley, Jordan stood above them all.
Though 20 years have passed since his retirement, Michael Jordan’s status as a sports and pop culture icon carries on. Younger generation athletes like Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James have sought to replicate his success and chase Jordan’s metaphorical throne. But no one has captured the world’s undivided attention and support quite like Michael Jordan. And no one has attained his incredible record of perfection at the highest level.
Put simply, no one has even been able to “be like Mike.”