Thursday, February 16, 2006

MJ's memorabilia to help Katrina victims

By Oscar Dixon, USA TODAY

The NBA's ultimate shoe salesman is making a pitch to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Michael Jordan is auctioning off an autographed set of Air Jordans during All-Star weekend in Houston, where many victims were relocated in the storm's aftermath. The set will include all 21 pairs of the popular sneakers — from the first one released in 1985 to the AJXXIs, in stores Saturday. Proceeds will go to Habitat for Humanity for Hurricane Katrina relief.

"A lot of people stepped up, made some sacrifices and helped out (the Katrina victims)," says Jordan, who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles. "But man, the way society is, we move on to the next issues so quickly. It's left up to us to maintain it, to keep the ball rolling in the right direction. ... They still need help. It's not like it's just over and done with."

Jordan will hold a silent auction this weekend for some of his personal memorabilia, including the shoes, an autographed Bulls jersey, an autographed set of his popular Wingspan posters and a basketball. The bids from the silent auction will be the starting point Tuesday for bids on eBay.

"This is an amazing and rare collection of Michael Jordan memorabilia that doesn't come along everyday," said Laurence Toney, senior category manager, eBay Collectibles.

Neither Jordan nor Toney would guess how much the memorabilia would sell for, and though Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James wasn't sure either, he was sure someone is going to spend a lot of money.

"Whoever likes Jordan is going to bid high," said James, who has his own signature shoe and wears No. 23 as Jordan did.

Jordan won't say which pair of shoes is his favorite, because it would be "like picking one of your kids, which one of your kids is better." But he says the set will be "huge" for a collector.

"It's going to be very unique," Jordan says. "This is not a collection that's out there. I'm probably the only other one that has this collection."

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