Three items of Michael Jordan memorabilia from his days at the University of North Carolina sold for auction on Saturday morning through Goldin Auctions.
The three pieces from Jordan’s days in Chapel Hill include two recruiting letters — one from Bill Guthridge and one from Dean Smith — and a diploma.
The diploma sold for $20, 785, the letter from Smith sold for $27,009 and the letter from Guthridge sold for $4,732.
I’m surprised the Guthridge letter didn’t do better because it is the first letter from North Carolina to Jordan and has some really unique pieces of information.
The Dean Smith letter is pretty unbelievably awesome though. It comes after Smith visited Jordan’s home and Smith tells Jordan to call him (collect!) if he needs to.
There was some discussion as to whether the items were authentic, as Jordan’s mother, Deloris, said the letters weren’t real because she had all of the recruiting letters, but her story soon began to change and the letters were authenticated through writing samples and by multiple experts per ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell.
Auctions tend to turn up some interesting items for people to buy, ranging from your standard items to those that are extremely valuable. So where would a recruiting letter that former North Carolina head coach Dean Smith sent to a young Michael Jordan fall? According to Comcast SportsNet Chicago, the letter’s up for auction after a man found it in a storage locker he’d purchased.
The opening price for the letter, with the auction being handled by the same group that sold a valuable Honus Wagner baseball card for $2.1 million? $5,000. The letter, written by Smith to Jordan back in 1980, reads as follows:
Our staff surely enjoyed visiting with you and your family there at your beautiful home. It was a delightful evening and one which we were able to use to get to know you better. Hopefully you felt more comfortable with us and that you will consider the University of North Carolina for your college education.
If there are any questions which came up following our departure, please tie me a collect call and I will be happy to discuss them with you. Otherwise we may give you a follow-up call before too long just to touch base.
We do think you are a tremendous young man and are impressed not only with your obvious basketball talent but the way you have been a leader at school and done well adacmedically We look forward to following you closely this year and hope to see you frequently in Chapel Hill.
I am writing your parents separately since they were so very hospitable to us. Enjoyed seeing you, Michael, and hope that beginning in September 1981 I can be your coach.
Dean E. Smith
Dated: Aug. 12, 1980
There’s also a photo of the letter in the link provided above, and it looks to be in pretty good shape for something that was written more than three decades ago. It will be interesting to see just how much the letter fetches in the auction, with Jordan’s “flu game” sneakers fetching a record $104,765 last month.
At this year’s Jordan Classic — which is, after all, named for His Airness — a group of prospects decided to sing the commercial jingle “Like Mike” in honor of the greatest basketball player of all time. Everyone, from Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA) to Nerlens Noel (Kentucky), took a turn slaying eardrums.
One recruit, in particular, was reluctant to join in.
Duke commit Rasheed Sulaimon decided it was a no-go, saying “Mike, you’re still my man, but the Duke/UNC rivalry is just too big.” Austin Rivers was similarly disinclined to invite scorn from his teammates and fans last year.
Who does Rasheed want to emulate, then? He name-checked Rivers, Jason Williams and, of course, Coach K.
Smart kid. There’s something to be said for knowing which side of Tobacco Road your bread is buttered on.