View full screen - View 1 of Lot 23. Michael Jordan Earliest Known Regular Season Nikes | Game Worn & Signed Air Ships.


Michael Jordan Earliest Known Regular Season Nikes | Game Worn & Signed Air Ships



Michael Jordan Earliest Known Regular Season Nikes | Game Worn & Signed Air Ships

Michael Jordan Earliest Known Regular Season Nikes | Game Worn & Signed Air Ships


Leather, Rubber, Cotton


The sneakers are in good overall condition, consistent with signs of wear.

For a more detailed condition report, please email

The following condition report has been provided by MEARS Authentication, LLC., 1234 Manitoba Avenue, South Milwaukee, an independent Memorabilia Evaluation and Research Services organization, who is not an employee of Sotheby’s.


The examination of wear to both shoes indicated an evenly distributed amount of wear, creasing, paint transfer, and court dust. The degree of wear is consistent with NBA game wear and also by comparison to other rookie Michael Jordan shoes examined by MEARS.

The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.

Gifted from Michael Jordan to Mr. Tommie Tim III Lewis ‘TJ’, Present Owner

The Nike Air Ship is a key part of the design legacy of the original Air Jordan.

Presented here is the earliest known Michael Jordan Regular Season Game Worn Nike – attributed to Michael’s 5th NBA Game (November 1, 1984) featuring a design that predates even the Air Jordan 1.


In 1984, Nike gave Michael Jordan his own signature line of shoes and clothes, which was pivotal in Michael agreeing to sign with Nike. It was the first time the brand did anything like this, and it paved the way for many of the player collaborations we now see. The term “Air Jordan” was coined by Michael Jordan’s agent David Falk. David apparently came up with name because Nike shoes had air in the soles and because, of course, Michael Jordan played basketball in the air.


The Nike Air Ship is a key part of the Air Jordan brand genesis. When Michael joined the NBA, the Air Jordan 1 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 1, 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.


The “Air Ship” – designed by Bruce Kilgore – was originally released in 1984, and was the first basketball shoe worn by Michael Jordan as an NBA professional. In the preseason and early games of his rookie year Michael wore a white and red colorway and also a black and red colorway (now known as ‘Bred’) that Nike had specially designed for him.


Michael’s Black & Red Air Ships became controversial after the NBA sent Nike a letter referencing a game on October 18, 1984 (NBA Preseason) informing the company that Jordan’s colorful shoes were a violation of the league’s uniformity of uniform clause. Nike responded by creating an infamous ad campaign around Jordan’s ‘banned’ shoes (advertising the first Air Jordans) remarking that while “the NBA threw them out of the game, fortunately, the NBA can’t stop you from wearing them.”


These White & Red Air Ships are a remarkable artifact in the history of sports and basketball, and have been kept in excellent condition by the Denver Nuggets Ball Boy they were originally gifted to, Mr. Tommie Tim III Lewis.

The sneakers are accompanied by a Letter of Provenance from Mr. Lewis, and a Letter of Opinion in regards to Game Use from MEARS Authentication, LLC. They are additionally presented with Mr. Lewis’ 1984-1985 Denver Nuggets season Staff Pass. Sotheby’s is grateful to James Spence Authentication for confirming the signatures. The shoes are also accompanied by a letter from Resolution Photomatching who notes a possible Photomatch to Mr. Jordan’s 3rd NBA game indicating a possibility that this pair was worn in additional games before the 1st of November 1984.