The night was still young in Los Angeles on June 11th, 1991. Champagne (California sparkling wine, technically) was flowing in the visiting locker room of the Forum. The Chicago Bulls had just defeated the Lakers, 108-101 to clinch the NBA title in 5 games. Series MVP Michael Jordan was clutching the championship hardware close to his chest. It was the first of six he would collect on his way to one of the most storied careers in sports history.
But one enterprising young ball boy was unmoved by the scene. He was under the employ of the losing home-team, after all. Ignoring the history unfolding before him, he had his gaze fixed upon a few bottles of bubbly squirreled off to the side of the celebration.
After the final game of any professional sport season, the victor’s locker room is lined with the liquid. Typically it sprays all over everyone and everything until available supply is entirely extinguished.
And yet by the time this particular rumpus was winding down, just before midnight, a few labels of uncorked glass remained in-tact. That’s when this unnamed interloper sprung into action. Seizing a favorable set of circumstances, he grabbed one of the 750ml bottles of Domaine Chandon Brut (of indeterminate vintage), procured a felt-tip marker and mustered up the gumption to ask His Airness to sign the would-be memorabilia.
Fast-forward 29 years and that fateful keepsake is hitting the auction block, fully authenticated. The anonymous ball boy, now well into middle age, is finally ready to part ways with it—for a hefty financial return, of course. Yesterday it was listed on the website of GA Goldin Elite Auctions, with a minimum bid of $1500. It will be up for grabs until 10 p.m. EST on August 22nd. If you’re looking to beat the buzzer, you can enter the game here.
Just how valuable is this carbonated curio? Well, it is a rather esoteric slice of sports history. But anyone that grew up enthralled by the gravity-defying antics of Air Jordan might place quite a nostalgic premium on the touchstone.
“I distinctly remember when MJ won that championship; I even watched a few of those bottles being poured on his head,” recalls Mike McGrath. He was just an 8-year-old Bulls fan on the night in question and is now a sports industry professional. “Anything the GOAT [Greatest of All Time] signs is cool. And that’s a priceless item…To the person it happened to. But I’m not going to pay $1,500 for someone else’s awesome memory.”
He’s not alone. As of this morning the minimum bid seems overly ambitious. Shockingly there’s been no action after almost a full 24 hours under the hammer. Presumably there’s a few deep-pocketed Knicks fans, at least, who wouldn’t mind literally placing the bottle under a blunt object.
Of course there’s still plenty of time left for it to grab more headlines. Like we’ve seen with so many other adult beverages placed under auction lately. So perhaps this won’t be the last you hear of this obscure artifact before it’s fully lost to the locker room of history. Maybe the ball boy—ball man, more accurately—will step up his game and sweeten the deal. Absent a vintage or even a bonafide champagne pedigree, $1500 might be something of a long shot.
“It’s a $50 dollar bottle of California sparkling wine so I’m probably not paying $1,500,” adds McGrath. “Unless I got to sit down and drink it with the man himself.”
He does not mean the ball boy.
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