Top 10 Most Valuable NBA Jerseys Ever Sold at Sotheby’s

Top 10 Most Valuable NBA Jerseys Ever Sold at Sotheby’s

From LeBron James to Wilt Chamberlain, these athletes’ jerseys fetch record prices at auction. But can you guess who’s number one?
From LeBron James to Wilt Chamberlain, these athletes’ jerseys fetch record prices at auction. But can you guess who’s number one?

G ame-worn memorabilia has seen a tremendous surge in interest and value in the past few years, and Sotheby’s has been at the cutting edge of this space. NBA game-worn memorabilia has been a point of particular interest for many collectors, and Sotheby’s has brought a plethora of incredible and record-breaking NBA game-worn jerseys to market. In November of 2023, Sotheby’s entered into a groundbreaking deal with the NBA to become the official source for game-used NBA memorabilia, which has expanded collector access to historic NBA artifacts like never before.

Sotheby’s is your go-to place for NBA game-worn jerseys, with several auctions as well as bi-weekly marketplace drops offering jerseys from NBA legends and new stars alike throughout the summer. While records have fallen at an impressive rate in recent years, here is a list of the (for now) 10 most expensive NBA jerseys that Sotheby’s has ever sold.

10. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1984 NBA Finals Los Angeles Lakers Game Worn Jersey – $228,600

Perhaps the most decorated basketball player ever, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a basketball juggernaut before he stepped foot on an NBA floor. By the time he entered the NBA, Kareem (then Lew Alcindor) had led his high school team, Power Memorial, to two High School National Championships as well as three straight New York City Catholic championships (with a 71-game winning streak mixed in). He then went on to three straight NCAA championships at UCLA. In the NBA, Kareem added six NBA Championships, six NBA MVP awards, and an NBA scoring record in 1984 that stood for more than 38 years, securing the latter with his signature move, the sky hook. Kareem also formed the core of the “Showtime” Lakers along with Magic Johnson, who dominated the 1980s along with their main rivals, the Boston Celtics and Larry Bird. 1984 was the first time the teams had met in the NBA Finals since 1969, and they did not disappoint; the series went seven games. Although the Celtics won, Kareem still proved his sustained excellence, leading the Lakers in the series in points, rebounds, and blocks per game in his 15th season. This jersey is particularly special because he wore it in three separate games, a rarity for NBA Finals jerseys.

9. LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers Game Worn Jersey – $393,700

Next on the list is a jersey worn by the only player with more career points than Kareem, LeBron James. As the calendar turned over to 2023, the basketball world eagerly watched as LeBron closed in on what was once thought to be an insurmountable record; the all-time NBA scoring record. On January 15, 2023, “The King” conquered the final milestone on his way to the scoring mountaintop in this jersey; 38,000 points. LeBron secured the feat on a 20-foot jumper in the first quarter, leaving less than 400 points between him and the record. The 20-time All Star would go on to secure his place in history less than a month later, adding to his awe-inspiring resume. The debate on the NBA’s true GOAT may go on forever, but one thing is for sure: for now, the all-time leading scorer in NBA history is none other than LeBron James.

8. Michael Jordan 1998 ‘The Last Dance’ Chicago Bulls Signed & Game Worn Jersey – $508,000

As the Chicago Bulls began the 1997-98 season, they knew it was probably their last together. Before the 1997-98 season, Phil Jackson was called into the office of the Bulls’ General Manger, Jerry Krause, and told “This is going to be your last year, I don't care if you win 82 games in a row, this will be your last year here.” Jordan had made it clear that he would not play without Phil, and a lockout loomed. Despite these pressures, Jordan, his teammates, and Coach Phil Jackson put together a final masterpiece of a season, which Jackson called “The Last Dance.” Finishing 62-20 with the first seed in the East, the Bulls steamrolled their way through the first two rounds before defeating their Central Division rival Indiana Pacers in a seven-game classic and securing their sixth championship of the decade against the Jazz, after Jordan famously hit the championship clinching bucket with less than six-seconds to go in Game 6 Worn in two commanding performances during this moviesque season, it is little wonder that this jersey was of keen interest.

7. Michael Jordan 1997-1998 ‘The Last Dance’ Game Worn Chicago Bulls Jersey – $698,500

Also worn during that famous season, this jersey is notable for several reasons. First, Jordan scored 40 points or more during three of the eight games this jersey was matched to, as well as 36 against a young pupil of the game, who credited competition with and guidance from Jordan with much of his development, Kobe Bryant. It is also rare to find a modern NBA jersey matched to quite so many games: eight represents about 20 percent of all the home games played by Chicago that season. Finally, the jersey was worn on what would be Michael Jordan’s final Christmas Day game. This jersey saw a significant portion of one of the most important seasons in NBA history, and collectors showed that this demanded a high price tag.

6. Victor Wembanyama ‘Rookie Debut Game’ San Antonio Spurs Game Worn Home Jersey – $762,000

Victor Wembanyama entered the league as perhaps the most hyped prospect since LeBron James, and collectors demonstrated that during the first auction held under the partnership between the NBA and Sotheby’s. Worn during the second half of his NBA debut, this became the most expensive NBA debut jersey ever sold. After recording his first dunk in the NBA in this jersey, “Wemby” went on to a historic rookie season; he became the first player in NBA history to finish a season with 1500 points, 250 blocks, and 100 three-pointers. Perhaps the only thing more impressive than his stats are his highlights; ranging from dotted-line dunks that look almost like layups to step-back threes, Wembanyama’s skills are the total package. The sky appears to be the limit for Wembanyama, and with time this could incredibly seem a bargain.

5. Kobe Bryant 2009 NBA Finals Los Angeles Lakers Game Worn Jersey – $1,754,000

As the Lakers entered the 2009 NBA Finals, Kobe Bryant was locked-in on securing his fourth NBA title. His ambition to add another Larry O’Brien to his already impressive trophy cabinet had been frustrated in his last two attempts, including the then-latest installment in the legendary Celtics-Lakers rivalry, and he was keen to prove to the basketball world that he could lead a team to the NBA mountaintop without his former teammate, Shaquille O’Neal. Between him and a ring stood the Orlando Magic, led by Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard. In Game 1, Kobe displayed the “Mamba Mentality” that he would become so well known for; he set his career NBA Finals high in an epic 40-point performance, leading the Lakers to a 100-75 rout. The Lakers would cruise to a 4-1 series victory, and doubts about Kobe’s ability to lead a team to the pinnacle were put to rest.

4. LeBron James 2013 NBA Finals Miami Heat Game Worn Jersey – $3,680,000

In some ways, this game was not supposed to happen. With 28.2 seconds left in Game 6, the Heat trailed by five and it looked like the Spurs would clinch their fifth NBA Championship. Heat fans were even leaving their own building; did they miss a show. The Heat managed to cut the deficit to three and then Ray Allen hit one of the iconic shots in NBA history to tie the game with 5.2 left. The Heat won in overtime. Now tied at three games apiece and with his legacy in the balance, the decisive Game 7 saw LeBron deliver an all-time performance in this jersey to cement his second NBA Championship and the Miami Heat’s third. LeBron recorded a double-double with 37 points and 12 rebounds and won Finals MVP.

3. Wilt Chamberlain 1972 NBA Finals Game 5 ‘Championship Clinching’ Game Worn Los Angeles Lakers Jersey – $4,900,000

When it comes to seemingly insurmountable NBA records, Wilt Chamberlain’s resume is filled with them. The “Big Dipper” holds the record for highest points per game (50.4 in 1961-62), rebounds per game (27.2 in 1960-61), and points in a single game (100) to name a few. He was also a critical member of the Lakers team that set the NBA record for longest winning streak at 33 games, a record that stands to this day, in 1971-72. After blazing their way through the opening rounds of the 1972 playoffs, the win that secured Wilt’s second NBA Championship and the city of Los Angeles’ first (the previous Lakers championships had all come when the team was in Minneapolis) included a Herculean stat line from Wilt; he finished with 24 points, 29 rebounds, 7 blocks, and 9 assists.

2. Kobe Bryant ‘MVP’ 2007-2008 Los Angeles Lakers Game Worn & Signed Jersey – $5,849,700

This signed jersey is at the heart of one of the most iconic images in NBA history. If asked to imagine Kobe Bryant exuding the peak of the passion that defined his “Mamba Mentality,” you would likely think of the moment when, after hitting a shot against the Denver Nuggets to go up 14 in Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, Kobe pumped this jersey and screamed triumphantly. Perhaps he was expelling the demons of the past couple seasons. After missing the 2005 playoffs, squandering a 3-1 lead in the first round in 2006, and hardly registering during the 2007 playoffs, Bryant’s frustrations led to a trade demand during the ’07 offseason. The Lakers denied it, opting instead to go out and get another Hall of Fame teammate for Bryant, Pau Gasol. Bryant flourished. Over the course of the 2007-08 season, Bryant went on a masterful campaign (much of it in this jersey), guiding the Lakers to the best record in the West and an NBA Finals berth. Bryant won his sole career MVP during the season, wearing this jersey during the ceremony. This jersey and the moments the basketball world saw it in have been indelibly etched in world of collecting, as this jersey set the record for any Kobe Bryant memorabilia.

1. Michael Jordan 1998 NBA Finals ‘The Last Dance’ Game Worn Jersey – $10,091,000

It is rare for a team full of willing players and coaches to know that, no matter what they accomplish, this is their final season together. It is even rarer for such a situation to come about for a team that, over the past seven seasons, had won five NBA Championships and featured perhaps the greatest player of all time. However, that was the situation Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Bulls found themselves in. Jordan and the Bulls put together a final Tour de Force that cemented their semi-mythical status, securing their sixth title in eight years and their second three-peat. Their opponent in the 1998 Finals was a familiar one: they had defeated the Utah Jazz in the 1997 Finals. Jordan scored 33 in front of a hostile Salt Lake City crowd in Game 1 in this jersey, forcing the game into overtime. In another bright red jersey, in Game 6, Jordan hit one of the most famous shots in NBA history to win the NBA Championship. This jersey is the closest that one can get to living in the shoes of perhaps the greatest player of all time as he stared down what would be his final Championship run. Collectors understood the significance of the jersey, setting a record for any game-worn NBA jersey with a staggering price tag of $10,091,000.

NBA Auctions

About the Author

More from Sotheby's

Stay informed with Sotheby’s top stories, videos, events & news.

Receive the best from Sotheby’s delivered to your inbox.

By subscribing you are agreeing to Sotheby’s Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe from Sotheby’s emails at any time by clicking the “Manage your Subscriptions” link in any of your emails.

arrow Created with Sketch. Back To Top