Michael Jordan ‘flu game’ shoes being auctioned by former ball boy

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SALT LAKE CITY — The ball boy leveraged applesauce for Michael Jordan’s shoes.

Preston Truman befriended Jordan by fetching him his favorite snack, and years later has decided to sell the shoes Jordan turned over from his famous “flu game” during the 1997 NBA finals.

Truman, now 35, kept them in a safe-deposit box at a Utah bank for 15 years, finally deciding to “get those things out there.”

It started with a challenge from Jordan: “‘There will be no autographs for ball boys after the game if I don’t get my applesauce,’” Truman recalled for The Salt Lake Tribune.

With 45 minutes until tipoff in an early-season 1996 game, Truman dashed through the Salt Lake City arena looking for applesauce. He finally secured an industrial-sized container from a commissary. Jordan was grinning: “You came through,” he told Truman.

When the Chicago Bulls came back for the finals months later, Truman had more applesauce waiting for Jordan, along with a bold request: “Are you doing anything with your shoes after the game?”

Jordan looked him in the eye and said, “Why, you want them?” Truman said he would be honored.

After leading the Bulls to a critical victory, scoring 38 points despite having to be helped on and off the court by teammates, a flu-stricken Jordan gave the red-and-black shoes to Truman.

Auction officials told The Associated Press they verified the size-13 shoes were authentic. Grey Flannel Auctions says it will auction them online Nov. 18-Dec. 11. Bidding starts at $5,000.

“It will be one of the top-grossing lots in this auction,” Michael Russek, Grey Flannel’s operations director, said Wednesday. He declined to release an in-house value but said little else could be compared to a piece of sports memorabilia like it.

“It’s just so unique, from a time in Jordan’s career,” Russek said. “Who knows where the price will end?”

Truman said he turned down an $11,000 offer the next season for the autographed shoes, and expects upcoming bidding to soar beyond that level.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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