SALT LAKE CITY — If you think new basketball shoes are expensive nowadays, just try buying a pair autographed and game-worn by Michael Jordan.
That’s actually a possibility for the next day or so.
It might cost you a cool $15,000 or so, though.
A former Utah Jazz ball boy is hoping to get that much, at least. Alex Rodriguez is auctioning off a pair of Air Jordan VII “Cardinal” shoes that were given to him after the Hall of Famer wore them during a comeback victory at the Delta Center on Feb. 1, 1993.
Rodriguez received the shoes from MJ almost 25 years ago after helping him secure a pair of tickets for that game between the Chicago Bulls and Jazz.
Then a ball boy who serviced the Bulls locker room, Rodriguez explained that Jordan arrived earlier than the rest of his team as usual. The superstar asked him for an extra favor on that day.
“I became friends with him by running some errands back and forth for him,” Rodriguez explained via SCP Auctions. “This particular game was completely sold out of tickets. Jordan needed two extra tickets and not even the Utah Jazz ticket manager had any tickets left to give him. They were all gone. No tickets left.”
Rodriguez generously offered the two tickets he received each game as a job perk.
“I told him he could have my tickets. He was very thankful and he wanted to buy them from me, but I said, ‘No, you can just have them,’” Rodriguez recalled. “He looked at me and said, ‘OK, you can have my game shoes after the game.’ I said, ‘OK.’”
Jordan went on to score 37 points, including outscoring the Jazz 20-17 in the fourth quarter of Chicago’s 96-92 win. Karl Malone scored 40 points, but Utah couldn't hold onto a 15-point lead in the loss.
“They’ve got a guy who’s capable of taking over the ballgame," Malone said, "and that’s exactly what he did."
“This is probably the biggest win that we have had (that season),” Jordan said that night.
Rodriguez was in the Bulls locker room after the game and remembers reporters asking Jordan about “getting into the zone” to rally his team from 12 points down with five minutes remaining.
“You couldn't even see him from all the reporters surrounding him. He stood up and saw me and called me over,” Rodriguez said. “He told all the reporters to move out of the way and I remember them all moving over and it was like when Moses parted the Red Sea.
“I walked up through the corridor of reporters and he signed the shoes and said, ‘Here, Alex. Thank you very much. You very kind.’ I said, ‘Thanks’ and took off with the shoes and hid them in my locker.”
Jazz fans had been all over Jordan’s case that game because he’d been vocal about not wanting the All-Star Game to be held in Salt Lake City later that month.
“(Jordan) made a comment about it being cold and they would be stuck in there hotel rooms all weekend. Utah fans got word of this and were not happy to say the least,” Rodriguez said. “In this game you can hear that every single time he touched the ball the entire arena booed him. He was getting sick of it and getting fired up. That's why after making a half-court shot to end the half, he stands on the Utah Jazz logo and claps back at the crowd saying, ‘Thank you for firing me up.’”
Rodriguez calls the Cardinal 7 shoes he’s selling “one of a kind.” He jokingly suggested they be called “In the zone” shoes or “Not a fan of Utah” shoes or even “Jordan kills the Jazz” shoes.
“This was his last year before retiring (the first time),” Rodriquez said. “It was the year (after) the Dream Team. It truly was his best year ever.”
Mr. Clean Cut
The biggest news out of Real Salt Lake this week at exit interviews had nothing to do with soccer and everything to do with one of Utah's favorite soccer player's hairdos.
"In one of the most stunning decisions in U.S. soccer history, Kyle Beckerman has cut off his dreadlocks," ESPN wrote in response to Beckerman getting rid of his trademark look that he sported for 12 years.
"Having grown out his hair since 2005, the United States and MLS midfielder showed up at his exit physical at Real Salt Lake on Wednesday sporting a new look.
"The dreads were gone (all but one, curiously) and Beckerman said he had made the change the day after RSL's final game of the season last month."
As was reported in the Deseret News this week, Beckerman's haircut was a spur-of-the-moment decision.
“The second-half of the season had a real energizing feel, and I don’t know if that pushed me to it," Beckerman said. "My wife and I just started snipping some on Monday after the game, and just kept going."
Beckerman is hoping to sign a new deal with RSL this offseason.
Local football fans will have plenty of chances to get their fill of pigskin this weekend. Good luck getting any work done around the home, though. Utah teams will be in action from Friday evening through late Saturday night.
Here's the schedule:
• UCLA at Utah, 7:30 p.m. (FS1)
• Weber State at Eastern Washington, 2:05 p.m. (WatchBigSky.com)
• Utah State at New Mexico, 3:30 p.m. (ATSN)
• North Dakota at SUU, 6 p.m. (live video feed)
• BYU at Fresno State, 8:45 p.m. (ESPN2)
The Spokesman-Review broke down how Saturday's Big Sky games will affect the teams' FCS playoff chances.
Utah (5-3) and Toronto (4-3) appear to be equally matched in terms of basketball talent, but the Raptors are a much tougher matchup for announcers, media members and anybody else who wants to say and spell players’ names correctly.
Even though Utah’s roster is a mouthful because of a diverse group of players and coaches with names like Igor Kokoskov and Ekpe Udoh, the Jazz are a phonetic breeze compared to the Raptors.
Seven members of Utah’s team — and one building (VIV-ent) — have pronunciations listed in the media notes.
Toronto’s pregame press sheet includes 10 guys on its pronunciation guide. Check out the story. Here's a fun video on the subject: