Sports Illustrated, Michael Jordan’s ‘Flu Game’ Sneakers Auctioned for $104K by Former Jazz Ball Boy:
Preston Truman, a 35-year-old former Jazz ball boy, auctioned off the autographed pair of sneakers worn by Bulls guard Michael Jordan during his famous “Flu Game” for more than $104,000.
GreyFlannelAuctions.com listed the pair of the black and red Air Jordan 12s, worn during Game 5 of the 1997 Finals, at a starting price of $5,000, with bidding opening on Nov. 18. The auction company’s website indicates that 15 bids were received, and that the final price realized Thursday was $104,765. ... Jordan signed both of the Size 13 shoes, and the lot includes Jordan’s black game socks, too. ...
The Salt Lake Tribune caught up with Truman, who was still just a teenager when he worked the sidelines at the 1997 Finals between the Bulls and Jazz. Jordan’s performance in Game 5 is one of the league’s most well-known legends: fighting off flu-like symptoms, that trainer Tim Grover said were caused by food poisoning, Jordan finished with a game-high 38 points, seven rebound, five assists, three steals and a block in 44 minutes to deliver a 90-88 victory. Chicago would go on to close out Utah in Game 6 to take home the fifth title of Jordan’s illustrious career. Fatigued throughout the game, Jordan leaned on Scottie Pippen as the two left the court, and the game has come to symbolize Jordan’s insatiable competitive drive and his superhuman mystique. That game stands as one of the most memorable performances in Jordan’s career. ...
Truman’s explanation for how he came across the shoes just adds another layer to the Jordan mythology. From the auction listing:
Early during the ‘96-’97 season in the Bulls visitor locker room, MJ looked up at trainer Chip Schaefer and asked where his graham crackers and applesauce were; Schaeffer was only able to fetch the crackers. Upon hearing this, Jordan turned to our consignor and said, “No autographs for ball boys after the game if I don’t get my applesauce.” After fulfilling Jordan’s wish, Jordan was grateful for his effort. When the NBA Finals came around, our consignor prepared graham crackers and applesauce to be sitting in Jordan’s locker. Upon arriving, Jordan saw the items and said, “You remembered? That’s my guy right there.” After doing Jordan another favor before Game 5, our consignor asked Jordan for his shoes. After the game, as he stood waiting in the locker room, the Bulls equipment manager John Ligmanowski stepped in to get MJ’s shoes. “No, leave em,” MJ said. “Those are his,” pointing at him. Jordan handed our consignor the sneakers with his socks inside and have remained that way until now. Jordan proceeded to sign the shoes and photos were taken during the process.
Analogizing to the tax consequences of record-setting baseball, Mr. Truman presumably did not have income in 1997 upon the receipt of the sneakers but will have to pay taxes on the sale of the sneakers on his 2013 tax return.
- Alice G. Abreu & Richard K. Greenstein, Defining Income, 11 Fla Tax Rev. 295 (2011)
- Joseph M. Dodge, Accessions to Wealth, Realization of Gross Income, and Dominion and Control: Applying the "Claim of Right Doctrine" to Found Objects, Including Record-Setting Baseballs, 4 Fla. Tax Rev. 685 (2000)
- J. Gordon Hylton, The “Who Owns the Baseball” Issue Just Will Not Go Away (Oct. 8, 2009)
- Lawrence M. Zelenak & Martin J. McMahon, Jr., Taxing Baseballs and Other Found Property, 84 Tax Notes 1299 (1999)
- Ball Busters: How the IRS Should Tax Record-Setting Baseballs and Other Found Property Under the Treasure Trove Regulation, 33 Vt. L. Rev. 43 (2008)
Related TaxProf Blog coverage:
- Tax Consequences of Catching Barry Bonds' 756th Home Run (July 25, 2007)
- More on Tax Consequences to Fan Catching Barry Bonds' 756th Home Run (Aug. 9, 2007)
- More on Tax Consequences to Fan Catching Barry Bonds' 756th Home Run (Aug. 23, 2007)
- The Taxation of Record-Setting Baseballs (Dec. 27, 2008)
- The Tax Consequences of Catching Home Run Baseballs (Apr. 11, 2009)
- Tax Consequences of A-Rod's 600th Home Run (Aug. 5, 2010)
- Tax Consequences to Fan Catching Derek Jeter's 3,000th Hit (July 11, 2011)
- NY Times: Tax Consequences to Fan Catching Derek Jeter's 3,000th Hit (July 12, 2013)
- Miller Beer Offers to Pay Tax Bill of Fan Who Caught Derek Jeter's 3,000th Hit (July 14, 2011)
(Hat Tip: Joel Newman.)