There never seems to be any shortage of Michael Jordan-related memorabilia on the collectibles circuit. From baseball cleats to "Flu Game" kicks, golf bags to love letters, plastic to glass and all the way up to expansive compounds, if you're an M.J. aficionado of means, there's just about always something cool and His Airness-specific on which you can bid hard-earned greenbacks.
Compared to all those fun finds, a few sheets of old paper probably seems like a pretty lame way to spend your paper. The latest Mike item to hit the market, though, isn't just any ol' stack. It's Jordan's actual, physical contract for the 1997-98 NBA season, a one-year deal covering a campaign in which he led the NBA in scoring for the 10th time, took home his fifth NBA Most Valuable Player award, beat the Utah Jazz to win his sixth and final NBA championship ... and got paid an NBA single-season-record $33 million to do it all.
Now, thanks to Heritage Auctions, you can get your hands on the Bulls' own copy of the contract covering Jordan's final season in the Windy City ... and it'll cost you an awful lot less than it cost Jerry Reinsdorf. From the auction house:
After delivering on his $30 million contract for the 1996-97 season with the fifth NBA championship for the Chicago Bulls during his tenure, the legendary Jordan leveraged that success in the form of a 10 percent bump to break his own record as the highest-paid figure in the sport's history. And, once again, Jordan supplied the only acceptable return on that staggering investment, a sixth and final NBA title for the Windy City franchise he defined.
This team issue of the most lucrative NBA contract ever executed entered the hobby over a decade ago through a charity auction, a copy addressed from the NBA offices to the mastermind behind the greatest "modern" basketball dynasty, Irwin Mandel. Now in his 41st and final year with the Bulls, Mandel is one of the longest-serving (with a single team) and most well-respected executives in professional sports, a man identified by David Stern to be "as knowledgeable a person as there is on team finance and the management of the salary cap." Twenty-six pages are here in total, inclusive of the two-page cover letter to Mandel from the NBA, with page 11 signed by Jordan, Mandel, Bulls VP Jerry Krause, a witness and a notary public. Various covenants are initialed by the parties involved, with nine appearances of "MJ" in the hand of His Airness.
(Mandel was the Bulls' senior vice president of financial and legal affairs, the team's longtime salary-cap guru, whom Jordan reportedly used to always greet with the question, “Irwin, where’s my check?” That sounds like a fun relationship.)
Heritage initially estimated the auction value of the still-record contract at $30,000, but with six days still remaining until Internet bidding closes at 11 p.m. ET on July 30, the price has already risen to $37,500 (as of 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 24). The next bid will take it up to $40,000; how high it goes from there is anybody's guess.
"It's hard to compare this to anything we've sold," Chris Ivy, Heritage's director of sports auctions, told Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. "It's Jordan, who is in a class by himself, and, to our knowledge, this is the only Jordan playing contract to ever surface."
Scarcity will always drive up the price of an in-demand resource. That's how Michael got $33 million; there was only one of him, after all.
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