In the legendary history of Michael Jordan’s NBA career, few moments top his now-famous “Flu Game.” And one lucky collector just walked away with a piece of memorabilia from that fifth game of the 1997 NBA Finals: the pair of Air Jordan 12 sneakers Jordan was wearing when he took the Chicago Bulls to their third win of the series against the Utah Jazz.
At auction on Wednesday, the Air Jordans sold for a whopping $1,380,000. Ken Goldin, the founder of the sports memorabilia site that facilitated the auction, told TMZ Sports back in April that he believed the sneakers to be “the most valuable sneakers of all time.”
The Flu Game sneakers failed to draw as much as a pair of iconic black and red Air Jordan 13s that Jordan wore in Game 2 of the 1998 NBA Finals—which sold for $2.2 million earlier this year—but it’s an impressive sum nonetheless.
As the story goes, the Bulls and Jazz were tied 2-2 heading into the June 11, 1997 game. But with a perfect 10–0 at home in the postseason up until that point, a third consecutive win would have given the Jazz the series lead and possibly momentum to turn things around.
Unfortunately, Jordan woke up around 2 a.m. ahead of that game with a bad stomach virus or case of food poisoning, which he later attributed to pizza he had eaten from a local Salt Lake City restaurant the night before. Rather than let his team go on without him, however, Jordan got out of bed at 5:50 p.m., just in time for the 7:00 tip-off.
Though visibly exhausted, Jordan managed to keep it together on the court, albeit just barely, and ended up scoring 38 points to lead his team to victory. He initially gifted the signed Jordans to Jazz ballboy Preston Thomas on the night of the game, who sold them for $104,765 in 2013.
In other words, the sneakers have appreciated in value quite a bit over the past decade. What can we say, hindsight is 20/20.