Besides, what fun are they when nobody believes they're real?
"Yeah, right," a pawnbroker told me. "I'll give you $150 for the big one."
"Yeah, right," one homeless-looking guy outside a pharmacy said, "and I got one of Mike's rings in my pocket."
The Jordan rings fascinated people. One sportswriter put on the '98 and declared, "I have this sudden urge to gamble." One girl my son knows put it on and said, "Does this mean I can dunk?" I ran into an ESPN anchor I know. "Dude, if you can't get sex wearing that," he whispered, "give it up."
I kept hoping to run into Jordan himself, just so I could say, "Hey, man, did you drop this?"
The same way hockey players won't touch the Stanley Cup until they've won it, ballers want zero to do with somebody else's ring. "You're just teasin' me," said the Denver Nuggets' Earl Boykins, who refused to touch it.
The Phoenix Suns' Shawn Marion pulled back from the ring like it was kryptonite, saying, "You're all bling-bling in my face with that, huh?"
I asked Shaq how much he'd give me for the Pats ring. "Nothin'," he grumbled, "'cause I didn't earn it."
Worse, one day I was going through arena security and flipped the Jordan '98 into a basket--and the zirconia-glutted faceplate came off. What, a $12,000 ring gets $1.98 Elmer's glue? Cost me $4 to, uh, fix it. Made me wonder why I went to all the trouble of winning the title in the first place.
But there was one fun thing about showing them around: kids. I blew away one boy sitting by himself at a bus stop when I let him put one on his finger. For him, it was the opposite of Bilbo Baggins--this ring made him visible. He lit up like a neon sign when he put it on. How's it feel? "Powerful!" he yelled.