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Unused ticket to Michael Jordan’s Bulls debut nets $468,000

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 08: A general view of the Chicago Bulls logo on the floor before a game against the Utah Jazz at the United Center on November 8, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Jazz 97-73. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

CHICAGO (AP) — A man who spent $8.50 apiece in 1984 for a pair of tickets to Michael Jordan’s NBA debut with the Chicago Bulls has sold one of them at auction for $468,000.

Michael Cole had bought the tickets 38 years ago as a college student at Northwestern University. He couldn’t find anyone to join him for the Oct. 26, 1984, game at the old Chicago Stadium, the Bulls’ former home, so one of the tickets went unusued.

“I’m incredibly excited by the outcome and in some ways relieved that it’s over,” Cole, now 55, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Cole picked up both tickets at will call, using one to attend the game while taking the other home to stick it in a folder. Heritage Auctions, which conducted the sale on Sunday, said it is the only known intact ticket from the debut of Jordan, arguably the greatest player in NBA history.

But the massive sale wasn’t even the largest amount paid for a sporting event ticket that day, according to Robert Wilonsky of Heritage Auctions.. That distinction went to the sale of a ticket to Jackie Robinson’s 1947 debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, which fetched $480,000.

Wilonsky said that in the age of online tickets where all people have to do is show up with the virtual tickets on their phones to get into arenas and stadiums, the ticket is a very different time.

“People don’t know what a paper ticket feels like to hold in their hands, to keep in their wallets, to hold onto forever,” he said.

And Cole said he isn’t about to totally give up a feeling that those whose tickets are locked away in their phones simply can’t know. He said he still tries to print out tickets whenever he can.

“I don’t find it as enjoyable of that cool feeling of holding a paper ticket in your hand,” Cole said.