Preston Truman, the former Utah Jazz ball boy who sold a pair of Michael Jordan-autographed Nike Air Jordan shoes from the 'flu game' for a record price, is ready for the spotlight to shine on someone else.
Since news of the sale, which was conducted in online bidding by Grey Flannel Auctions, went public Thursday, Truman has been inundated with interview requests.
"It's been quite a couple few days," said Truman, now 35 and a sales manager for Verizon retailer Go Wireless, Friday afternoon in the wake of the $104,765 winning bid. "I'm ready for my 15 minutes of fame to be up."
Truman, who grew up a Chicago Bulls fan in St. George, Utah, after Jordan's exploits in the NBA All-Star slam dunk contests, was fortunate to get the autographed shoes after Jordan scored 38 points in a 90-88 victory over the Jazz in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals.
Upon review, hard work had more to do with it. The graduate of Pine View High, where he played two years of varsity basketball, proved himself at a summer league before he started college. The brother of a high school friend worked as a Jazz ball boy and got Truman an interview with the club.
"I worked my butt off for 14 hours a day," said Truman, who spent a year at Utah before transferring to Weber State, where he earned a bachelor's degree in communications. "I had to prove myself, that I really wanted it."
He met Jordan for the first time early in the '96-97 season. "When they came to town it was like The Beatles, really crazy," Truman said.
The classic story of Jordan wanting some applesauce before that early-season game came as a surprise to Truman. "It was odd to me to hear that he was requesting that from his trainer," Truman said. "[Jordan] whipped his head around and looked me right in the eye and said, 'If I don’t get my applesauce, nobody gets autographs.' "
Truman, who would work as a reporter for four years at two Utah newspapers before moving into retail, was able to find some applesauce, endearing himself to Jordan and setting up what would be a mutually beneficial relationship.
"Being able to connect with people, work my magic that way, has helped with sales," said Truman, who plans to use the proceeds from the auction to help with college tuition for his two daughters and a trip to Disneyland as well as helping a sister, who is a single mother.