All elite athletes seem to have that one definitive moment that wraps up their greatness in a nutshell. While Michael Jordan has several such moments, the memorable "Flu Game" during the 1997 NBA Finals ranks high on the list. Recently, the signed shoes from that amazing performance were auctioned by Grey Flannel Auctions, and the final price was a staggering $104,765.
The event in question was Game Five of the 1997 NBA Finals matchup between Jordan's Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz. The series was tied 2-2, and the Game Five winner would carry considerable momentum. Although it is remembered by most as the game that Michael Jordan had the flu, several theories have emerged, including food poisoning or hangover symptoms. In any event, Jordan was not himself and appeared on the verge of collapsing. Somehow he managed to fight through his obvious discomfort and lead the Bulls back from multiple deficits. He would carry the team to victory, and his stat line included 38 points, seven rebounds and five assists. The Bulls and Jordan would go on to take the series, bringing another title back to Chicago.
By 1997, Jordan-mania was in high gear, and his signature shoe line was a mainstream success. The Air Jordan is the most iconic athletic shoe line and even today, new Air Jordan releases are a huge event. The shoes he wore that night were the Air Jordan XII model, in red and black. After the game, Jordan gifted the shoes to a diligent ballboy for the Jazz, Preston Truman, who was only a teenager at the time. Before the game, Truman boldly asked Jordan for the shoes. Truman had previously supplied Michael Jordan with applesauce and graham crackers prior to a game, and Jordan had not forgotten.
Here's a video from ESPN Mint Condition that includes an interview with Truman:
Fast forward nearly 20 years, and Preston Truman decided the time had come for the shoes to find a new home. Although there was no way to be certain of their value, he knew enough to turn down $11,000 in cash the year after he acquired them. Clearly he made the right decision.