S otheby’s is proud to present, in partnership with Project Blitz, MJ’s Secret Stuff The Space Jam Jordans.
On May 14, 1995 Michael Jordan came to do battle with Shaq’s Orlando Magic in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Although Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were the victors that night, the Orlando Magic would ultimately win the series, sending the Bulls home in Game 6. After a hiatus that marked more than a year away from professional basketball, Michael Jordan returned to the NBA in 1995 to prove to his fans, fellow athletes, and above all to himself that he had more to offer to the world of basketball. On that same night of May 14, 1995 Jordan laced up a pair of high-top black patent leather sneakers, a shoe that sits at the intersection of his next threepeat and a blockbuster film debut. The sneakers in question? Well, of course the Air Jordan XI “Space Jam”.
These same sneakers would go on to be featured in the iconic 1996 hit, Space Jam. The sequel for which is being released this very week. During the film, in Jordan’s matchup against the alien ‘Monstars’, Michael teams up with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and a host of other Warner Bros. characters to defeat a rogue alien talent-stealing squad.
The pair being sold at Sotheby’s is a ‘Player Sample’ or ‘Player Exclusive’ pair, meaning that it was cut by Nike with Mr. Jordan in mind and to his specifications.
The pair being sold at Sotheby’s is a ‘Player Sample’ or ‘Player Exclusive’ pair, meaning that it was cut by Nike with Mr. Jordan in mind and to his specifications. The pair here is in perfect deadstock condition, and never used. The coding on the interior states BBMN04-950112-FTPS. BBM means “Basketball Mens” and “950112-FTPS” references that the shoes were produced in 1995 (“95”). “FTPS” means that they were made out of the Feng Tay (“FT”) factory, and are Player Samples (“PS”) made for Mr. Jordan. The shoes are in Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan 11 size 13 (Jordan would wear 13, 13.5, and a combination of both at different points in his career), and have been signed by Michael Jordan in silver ink. They are offered in a custom wood and velvet box.
The Jordan Effect
The Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny duo who we’ve all come to love started in 1992 during Nike and Looney Toons joint ad campaigns. After the major marketing success of the “Hare Jordan” during the Super Bowl XXVI, Jordan’s agent David Falk thought the partnership could reach even greater success as a full-length film. Falk was correct. The opening weekend of Space Jam, in November of 1996, shattered the box office with $27M in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada. Space Jam has garnered more than $230M worldwide, making it the highest grossing basketball movie of all time, a title the film still holds nearly 25 years after its release. Aside from marketing and box office success, Space Jam also contributed to the comeback of Michael Jordan as an athletic phenomenon.
During the weeks it took to shoot Space Jam Michael Jordan trained relentlessly to prepare for the upcoming season. Jordan’s schedule consisted of filming from 7AM to 7PM then hosting pick-up games in the gym built by Warner Brothers. “The Jordan Dome” during its time of operation became the home to some of the most intense pick-up games with legends such as Grant Hill, Patrick Ewing, Larry Bird and Charles Barkley suiting up to play. Many of the opponents who faced off with Jordan in the Dome noticed a new level of tenacity and skill and could recognize that Jordan had shaken off all the dust from his baseball career and was ready to continue winning championship titles in the NBA.
The influence of Space Jam on Jordan’s career does not end with three more consecutive championship rings, its influence also spans into the world of sneakers. Five years after the OG model first debuted (which was made only for Mr. Jordan), in 2000 the Retro Jordan XI “Space Jam” hit stores. Even with four years separating the release of the movie from the sneakers the Space Jam XI’s became an instant classic.