1981-82 Michael Jordan Signed & Inscribed Pair of North Carolina Tar Heel Game Worn Shoes from Freshman NCAA Championship Season
The greatest basketball player that ever lived played his college ball close to home under the tutelage of the legendary Dean Smith. In the fall of 1981, Michael Jordan entered his freshman year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill eager to display his immense talents and put the Tar Heels atop the mountain. Coming off a 1981 National Championship loss to Indiana, UNC returned junior James Worthy and sophomore Sam Perkins, but it was the 6’6” shooting guard out of Wilmington who proved to be the key ingredient. Jordan averaged 13.5 points as a diaper dandy in Smith's rather socialist system of equal distribution to earn ACC Freshman of the Year honors. In the 1982 National Championship game against a stacked Georgetown squad led by Patrick Ewing, Jordan nailed the game-winning jumper with 17 seconds left, giving Dean Smith his first title in a 63-62 thriller. Jordan credits that shot as the turning point that launched his career. He would play three seasons at UNC and be named Naismith College Player of the Year as a junior before departing for the NBA in 1984. We know how the rest of the story goes. The groundbreaking Converse All-Star shoes presented here were game-worn by Michael Jordan during the regular season of the Tar Heels’ 1981-82 NCAA Championship season. They are style-matched to games leading up to the 1982 NCAA Tournament, and their provenance ties them to the local community surrounding Chapel Hill that Jordan frequented as a student-athlete. In addition, Jordan has uniquely signed and inscribed them as being from that special season. The rarity of a pair of Michael Jordan UNC game-worn sneakers to hit the hobby cannot be understated. A pair featured at auction recently by a different auction house proved to be inaccurately documented thanks to a former UNC student manager/statistician. By all accounts, these are the earliest of MJ’s game-worn shoes ever to surface in the market. According to the consignor’s detailed letter of provenance, the shoes have had three owners since leaving Jordan’s feet in 1982. MJ gifted them to a Burlington, NC, store owner shortly after his freshmen year, who in turn handed them over to a friend in town. The second owner used to be the consignor’s neighbor, and in 2006 gave them to the consignor after learning that he was an even bigger fan of UNC basketball. Photo research shows Jordan wore this exact pair of Converse white-with-blue colorway All-Stars during the entire regular season before switching to a slightly different style for the NCAA Tournament and Final Four. To clarify, these sneakers were not worn in the 1982 NCAA Championship game; rather, Jordan wore this style during the regular season from November 1981 to early March 1982. The white leather sneakers with Carolina blue Converse logos come in size 12.5, a half size smaller than Jordan would eventually wear in the NBA. At the time, he was 18 years old and still growing. He has autographed and inscribed each shoe on the outside lower ankle in 7-8/10 blue ballpoint pen. The left inscription reads "1982 NCAA Championship," while the right reads "1982 NCAA Champship" [sic]. It appears that MJ signed the left shoe first and rushed through the right. The tongue sections on each shoe have aged, the right showing more yellow toning. The upper heels have a blue horseshoe-shaped section that is clearly identifiable in regular season games; this specific feature is missing from the Converse shoes Jordan wore in the NCAA Tournament. The laces are not the originals. According to the consignor, when he received the shoes the laces were falling apart. The leather shows stretching around the ankles from wear, but there are no significant creases. The outsoles show light game use. Includes Letter of Provenance from the consignor explaining the chain of ownership. Each shoe comes with a full LOA from PSA/DNA.