In the world of sports memorabilia, finding a Michael Jordan collectible is like the holy grail. You can imagine what people would do to get anything with his name and signature attached, let alone the last contract he signed with the Chicago Bulls prior to the 1997-98 season.
According to ESPN.com's Darren Rovell, collectors now have their chance to bid on that contract via Dallas-based Heritage Auctions:
The Chicago Bulls' original copy of Michael Jordan's $33 million contract -- the most valuable single-season contract in NBA history -- has hit the auction block. ...
... The contract is signed by Jordan, himself, and initialed by him on each of its 24 pages. It's also signed by Jerry Krause, former Bulls general manager, and Irving Mandel, the man in charge of the Bulls' finances. The lot also includes a two-page cover letter from Mandel to the NBA.
Rovell also states that the value of the contract was estimated at $30,000 but that the bidding, which closes July 31, "already has topped $28,000."
As ESPN coordinating producer Desmond Wallace noted on Twitter, Jordan is so money that his paper is more valuable than any other human being's:
Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions for Heritage Auctions, is quoted in the piece as saying that this contract is unlike anything the company has ever put up:
"It's hard to compare this to anything we've sold," Ivy said. "It's Jordan, who is in a class by himself, and, to our knowledge, this is the only Jordan playing contract to ever surface."
For a comparison, Jordan's $33 million paycheck in 1997-98 is nearly $10 million more than the highest-paid player in the NBA today (Kobe Bryant at $23.5 million, per HoopsHype.com). If you take inflation into account, per Rovell, Jordan's salary from his final season would be equivalent to $49 million today.
As impressive as the bidding for Jordan's contract is, it's likely not going to come close to matching the record holder. Babe Ruth's 1918 contract with the Boston Red Sox, which was worth $5,000, sold at Goldin Auctions in New Jersey for $1.02 million earlier this month, per Rovell.
No retired athlete who is still living draws as much attention as Jordan. He was recently voted the second-most popular male athlete in a Harris poll, via ESPN.com, despite the fact he hasn't played a professional game since 2003.
Jordan remains a fixture in sports with his global brand and ownership stake in the Charlotte Hornets, so his popularity isn't hard to figure out.
It remains to be seen just how much money his final contract with Chicago will fetch on auction, but there's no doubt many folks would love to get their hands on such a unique piece of memorabilia.