A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post all about how fans love to hate LeBron James—myself included. It’s not like I’ve got anything against the guy in reality. It’s just fun to have a villain, especially one who seems to generate attention like James does.
But when he led the Miami Heat to their NBA Championship win on June 21—and LeBron’s long-awaited first championship ring—some questioned whether or not his closing the deal would be enough to erase his bad reputation. A Google search will find plenty of equivocating back and forth on the subject. Some believe that winning a championship proves the guy’s worthiness in the annals of NBA history. Others still think he’s kind of a self-centered jerk. But what’s the real test? Simple: how much is someone willing to pay for one of his jerseys?
The answer comes courtesy of a post on Sports Collectors Daily, which reports that LeBron’s game-worn jersey from Game 1 against their championship opponents, the Oklahoma City Thunder, sold at auction for $33,333 yesterday. As for the significance of the repetitive sum itself, it’s not immediately apparent, but James wears number 6. Maybe the purchaser wanted to celebrate his purchase with a price tag that could divide evenly.
Obsessive compulsive auction buying aside, the sale holds some other significance: according to the post, it sold for more than twice the high bid for the Game 1 jersey worn by Kevin Durant, the star player of the Thunder. That jersey sold for $15,706. I’m not going to even try to figure out how that number came about.
The auction began on June 13, and was the result of a partnership between the NBA and auction house MeiGray. By the time this post goes live, there will be roughly 12 hours left for a number of game-worn jerseys from Game 3. LeBron’s jersey is, as of this writing, the star of the show yet again. His white home jersey is currently at $25,020, with 20 bids. Maybe this one will get all the way up to $66,666!
Interestingly, the jersey of Dwyane Wade—LeBron’s Miami Heat teammate and holder of more two NBA Championship rings to James’s one—isn’t fairing nearly as well, currently sitting at $5,020 with 10 bids. And the jersey of Chris Bosh, commonly known as the third member of the Heat’s power trio, is at less than half that number with $2,020 and only four bids. Also: Chris Bosh kind of looks like a weird bird.
Obviously these numbers will go up by the time you read this, but even this snapshot reveals an interesting disparity in LeBron’s popularity among basketball fans. It doesn’t matter that Wade has already won more championships than James, nor does it matter that James is still the same guy he was a few weeks ago. The numbers don’t lie: whether they like him or lump him, fans want a piece of him.
Keep your eyes peeled on the NBA Auctions website over the next few days. It’s pretty probable that we’ll see more game-worn jerseys from the rest of the NBA Championships before the week is out. And frankly, LeBron’s jersey from Game 5? That thing’s gonna go for a King’s Ransom.