Basketball's Most Expensive Game-Worn Sneakers Ever
We know people are willing to pay obscene amounts for sneakers – too much, in fact. Many of the today’s most expensive footwear artefacts have garnered attention simply due to their exclusivity and the high-profile names attached to them, but there’s definitely something extra special about a game-worn sneaker: you can’t put a price on history, right?
Well, you can, and it usually contains plenty of zeros.
Historic footwear from the hardwood has sold at insane prices over the years. You won’t find anything DS on this list – here’s a look at some the most expensive game-worn Grails ever.
Under Armour Curry 3 ‘Oakland Strong’ – $30,101
Back in 2017, Under Armour and NBA star Steph Curry teamed up to raise funds for YouCaring Oakland Fire Relief, a charity supporting the victims of a deadly fire at the Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland.
Steph and UA offered up two special edition sneakers for auction on eBay, with all proceedings going towards the families of the 36 that perished in the tragic blaze.
A Curry 3 Low from a pre-game warmup managed to fetch $13,356. However, it was the game-worn Curry 3 that really broke the bank. The custom creps ended up raising $30,101, making them one of the most expensive non-Jordan game-worn sneakers ever.
Kobe Bryant’s Nike Hyperdunk ‘2008 Beijing Olympics’ - $37,740.70
The Black Mamba slots into our list with a special pair of Nike Hyperdunks that he gamed during the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Following Team USA’s gold medal run at the Games, as well as an unforgettable marketing campaign from the Swoosh, a pair of game-worn Hyperdunks sold for just over $37,000 at auction.
The model represented a progressive shift in performance basketball sneaker design, foregoing the traditional bulk for a nimbler construction with Flywire and Lunarlon. It was bona fide game-changer, but we can’t help think the final price was a little inflated for the time.
Although, we’re pretty sure that ad definitely played its part in the hysteria.
Air Jordan 1 ‘Strap Over Swoosh’ - $55,000
Returning from an injury layoff during his second NBA season, Michael Jordan hit the hardwood in a special pair of AJ1s, modded with a heavy nylon/aluminum buckle and tension cord.
Designed to deliver extra stability while MJ recovered from injury, the ‘Strap over Swoosh’ is one of most expensive, yet least talked about Jordan Brand Grails ever.
Nike Air Ship – $71,554
Before the Air Jordan, MJ took to the court in the Nike Air Ship – the first sneaker he gamed as a pro.
Hitting the court back in 1984, the Air Ship provided the blueprint for the iconic Air Jordan 1. It featured a mid-top build, eight eyelets compared to the now-familiar nine, and wore a lateral strap on its throat, with the laces going through the strap. Five colourways of the Air Ship were produced by Nike in total, with Jordan gaming three of them. It would be the infamous Black/Red that eventually got banned by the NBA.
SCP Auctions put a pair of game-worn Air Ships up for bidding in 2015. The winning buyer may have ended up walking away $71,554 out of pocket, but he also scored a genuine piece of sneaker history.
Autographed Air Jordan 12 ‘Flu Game’ - $104,000
Former Utah Jazz ball boy Preston Truman put his autographed pair of game-worn Air Jordan 12 ‘Flu Game’ up for auction in 2013, fetching a world-record $104,000 at the time.
Sneakers autographed by the GOAT don’t come around very often, but this is a pair deeply rooted in basketball folklore.
Fighting off flu-like symptoms, Jordan finished game 5 of the 1997 Finals with a game-high 38 points in 44 minutes to deliver the Chicago Bulls a 90–88 victory. The team would go on to famously clinch the series against in Utah in Game 6, locking up Jordan’s fifth NBA title.
Truman, despite being a lifelong Jazz fan, spent a lot of the game and its lead-up tending to MJ’s requests for applesauce (known for its medicinal properties). After the game, Jordan rewarded Truman for his efforts with the autographed pair, and some game-worn socks to boot! Talk about the perks of the job... $100K perks.
Converse Fastbreak ‘1984 Olympics’ - $190,373.80
This game-worn pair may not have a Swoosh or a Jumpman, but that didn’t stop one collector copping the pair for a world record $190,372... and 80 cents.
Michael Jordan wore the pair during the 1984 Olympic basketball final against Spain, dropping 20 points and leading Team USA to gold. It was the last time MJ laced up Converse on court, and the pair was gifted to the son of Lakers great Gail Goodrich, who was working as a ball boy during the game (these ball boys are really making bank!).
Autographed twice – one on the outside of the left shoe and the other on the inside of the right – the pair will take some beating if its ever to be surpassed for value. We’d probably have to raid his Airness’ trophy room to find something worthy.
You check out more of the most stupidly expensive sneakers ever here.