Once in a Lifetime Auction of Jordan Memorabilia to Benefit Victims of Katrina
Hoops legend Michael Jordan puts his name and his pen to work to help Habitat for Humanity rebuild homes and communities destroyed by the devastating hurricane.
It’s become de rigueur for sports talk show pundits to criticize superstar athletes for not doing enough to help people in need. And without question, marquee athletes — with their eight-figure salaries — make for easy marks. But if the media at large was as eager to report on the charitable efforts of sports icons as they are to give blanket coverage to their wholly human foibles, perhaps the talking heads would have to find something new to squawk about. Witness the ear-splitting rants in newsprint, on the airwaves and on blogs the world over chronicling the epic idiocy of U.S. skier Bode Miller, as compared to the relative whisper of coverage given to the remarkable generosity of U.S. speedskater Joey Cheek.
Cheek has pledged all $40,000 of his U.S. Olympic Committee bonus for winning gold in the men’s 500 meters long track competition and silver in the 1,000 to an organization called Right to Play that, according to the group’s Web site, www.RightToPlay.com, “uses sport and play as a tool for the development of children and youth in the most disadvantaged areas of the world.” (NBA stalwart Dikembe Mutombo is among Right to Play’s numerous “athlete ambassadors.”) Cheek’s pledge has set off an avalanche of donations from other Olympic athletes and corporations and started a virtuous cycle that’s contributed over $300,000 toward Right to Play’s relief efforts for Sudanese war refugees — but you probably won’t hear about that on ESPN.
Untouchable: Just a sampling of the complete and autographed I-XXI Air Jordan collection up for auction to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The sweetest touch is that each shoe in the collection is in the size worn by Jordan during his stint in that particular model; for example, the Air Jordan XII visible above is size 13, while the Air Jordan XIII right next to it is size 13.5 (the size differential is due to the fact that, even after our feet stop growing per se, they continue to expand as we age).
Yet, as reticent as the Stephen A. Smith’s of the world are to talk about subjects that don’t involve gambling, drug-enhanced performance or philandering, when the name Michael Jordan is attached to a positive cause, it becomes impossible to ignore. Such is the case now, in the wake of Jordan’s announcement of an auction of autographed, authenticated memorabilia, with the net proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity’s Hurricane Katrina relief initiatives.
“The way society is, we move on to the next issue so quickly,” noted Jordan while autographing the items to be auctioned on eBay. “They (the victims of Katrina) still need help,” a fact to which any one of the estimated 750,000 still displaced families across the Gulf Coast can attest. And Habitat for Humanity, with its army of volunteers, has been offering just that in the form of newly constructed homes for those left homeless by the back-to-back impacts of Katrina and Rita. According to the organization’s Web site, www.Habitat.org, new homes are being framed in the hundreds at sites across the country, with their completed interior and exterior walls transported to hurricane ravaged Gulf Coast communities for final assembly. The proceeds from Jordan’s auction, which will almost certainly top half-a-million dollars, will help further these initiatives.
A “Unique” Opportunity
According to none other than His Airness, the assortment of items up for auction is “very unique.” “This is not a collection that’s out there,” he continued. “I’m probably the only other one out there that has this collection.”
And certainly, for Jordan collectors with ginormous bank accounts, this represents a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own the entire Air Jordan collection, signed, sealed and delivered. The cherry on top is that each shoe in the collection is in the size worn by Money during his stint in that particular model; for example, the Air Jordan I is size 12.5, while the Air Jordan XI is size 13 and the Air Jordan XVIII is size 14 (even after our feet stop growing per se, they continue to expand as we age) — that’s a touch sure to make any hardcore J-’head weak in the knees.
Memories... In addition to the I-XXI collection, a Jordan Chicago Bulls home jersey is up for auction, as is a game-worn pair of cool grey Air Jordan XIs (from Jordan’s stint with the Wizards), a framed 1986/2005 Jordan “Wings” poster set and a not-available-in-stores red suede XXI basketball — all autographed by Money and authenticated by Upper Deck.
But if the attention to detail makes you wobbly, the price of admission will straight knock you out: The opening bid for the I-XXI collection on eBay is $425,000. The reason it’s so high is that bidding on all of the items actually began during All-Star weekend via an invitation-only silent auction held during the Air Jordan XXI launch party. Bidding opened up to the public at large on the 21st and will remain open through approximately 5 pm Pacific Time on Friday, March 3rd.
The auction items include the following, all autographed by Michael Jordan and authenticated by Upper Deck:
The Real Last Shots: Jordan autographing an oh-so-crisp pair of size 13.5 Air Jordan XIVs in the shoe’s classic black/black-varsity red colorway. Oh, if only I had a spare $500,000 burning a hole in my pocket!
So you won’t be able to bid unless you have the bank (or perhaps own one), but if you happen to have half a mil’ lying around, or are tired of trying to parallel park your Rolls and want a more stationary keepsake, this auction is for you! In all seriousness, the price may be stratospheric, but the items — particularly the I-XXI collection — are singular and the cause most worthy. As Tim Muret, Vice President of Upper Deck Authenticated was quoted as saying in Jordan Brand’s press release announcing the auction, “One can only imagine what the final value and winning bid might be.” And it’s true that even the most diehard sneakerheads will need to put their imaginations into overdrive to fathom spending the value of a very fine home on 21 pairs of shoes, but for those still struggling to put the pieces of their lives back together in the aftermath of last year’s horrific hurricane season, the benefits derived from this auction will be as real as a home they can once again call their own.