In this sports memoribilia crazed society we live in, this is an interesting and historic find. We see autographs, game used jerseys, photos among other things appear on the internet all the time. We typically get overloaded and not much is special or unique anymore.
This is different. This is Jordan.
Goldin Auctions has been in the news frequently, most recently for auctioning off Kobe Bryant merchandise that he had given to his mother. Now they have a pair of Jordan’s recruiting letters, his diploma and a transcript that are apparently authentic.
Gutheridge is obvioulsy writing to Jordan after seeing him play the first time and was very impressed. He wishes him luck and is very cordial. He invites him to the UNC basketball camp but explains he can’t pay but tells him how he can possible get sponsored to go.
Smith writes six months later in August, just before the school year would have begun in North Carolina. The most interesting line is at the end of the letter.
“Enjoyed seeing you, Michael, and hope that beginning in September 1981 I can be your coach.”
Another interesting tidbit is he wrote in the letter as an after thought (remember this was written on a typewriter, you didn’t just print it again in Microsoft Word) that he had written North Carolina A&T for Larry. Did Jordan request it? I couldn’t find reference to that anywhere else but it appears that Dean Smith was fond of Jordan’s family from the letter. This favor for them concerning Jordan’s brother was obviously important to them. Larry didn’t ever suit up for NC A&T made his “reputation on the intramural courts” but did get a shot at playing some semi-pro ball for the now defunct Chicago Express.
It’s hard to say, but if you put yourself in the shoes of Smith and Gutheridge, you have to wonder if they really knew who Jordan would be. If they knew the greatness they were recruiting. As the auction states this might be “the most important recruiting letter ever written by a head coach in the history of college basketball”. That point could be argued but there is no doubt it was a historically important to the basketball world as well as the University of North Carolina and Dean Smith.
Historically, it is an inside look into what recruiting Jordan looked like, as a collector it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Remember, these letters have been at the very least handled by presumably Jordan’s whole family and Dean Smith too. The historical importance and the value of the stars that rubbed off on these particular letters is immeasurable.
The auction as memorabilia is awesome because there are only one of each item. There isn’t another one and there won’t be another one.
The letters were originally displayed in a restaurant in North Carolina at a restaurant that bore Jordan’s name and were recently found in a storage locker.
The bidding is already at $5,000 for the Dean Smith letter and I’m sure will climb much, much higher considering it is probably one of the ten most important times Dean Smith signed his name in his entire life.
I would anticipate the Gutheridge letter to stay closer to that $5,000 mark.
Tune in to GoldinAuctions.com to see where the bid is currently. Bidding ends February 7 at 10pm EST.