Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jon Gruden Pulled From Ring Of Honor ... Skechers Drops Coach

2:55 PM PT -- The Buccaneers have followed in Skechers' footsteps and cut ties with Gruden as well ... announcing Tuesday the coach will no longer be recognized in Tampa Bay's Ring of Honor.

"While we acknowledge Jon Gruden's contributions on the field," the team said, "his actions go against our core values as an organization."

"Therefore, he will no longer continue to be a member of the Buccaneers Ring of Honor."

Gruden coached the Bucs from 2002 to 2008 ... winning one Super Bowl with the team.

First, Jon Gruden lost his job ... now, he's lost his biggest sponsorship too.

Skechers has terminated its contract with the former Las Vegas Raiders head coach ... after learning the 58-year-old wrote racist, homophobic and misogynistic emails from 2011 to 2018.

"Skechers is aware of the recent press reporting on the emails of Jon Gruden, which caused him to resign his N.F.L. coaching position," a spokesperson for the shoe giant said in a statement Tuesday.

"Upon learning of these developments, we immediately terminated Mr. Gruden’s endorsement contract and our affiliation with him."

Gruden had been one of the faces of Skechers, appearing in ads for the company for the past several months.

"Skechers believes in equality, fostering tolerance, and understanding for all people," the spokesperson said. "It is at the core of who we are as a global lifestyle brand and why we have a zero-tolerance policy for such behavior within our business including those with who we formally work with."

"We believe taking a stand against racist or derogatory comments and for inclusion of all is imperative."

The news comes just one day after Gruden was ousted from his role as Las Vegas head man following the news that he had hurled an anti-gay slur toward Roger Goodell and used other offensive language in multiple emails.

In announcing his parting of ways with the Raiders ... Gruden apologized for the messages, and added, "I never meant to hurt anyone."

The Raiders have named Rich Bisaccia as their interim head coach in wake of Gruden's departure.

Originally Published -- 2:48 PM PT

Report: Kyrie Irving Not Anti-Vaxx Upset With People Losing Jobs Over Mandates

4:26 PM PT -- Kyrie Irving is NOT against getting the COVID-19 vaccine -- his stance is based on the people who have lost their jobs due to vaccine mandates, The Athletic reports.

As one source told the outlet, "Kyrie wants to be a voice for the voiceless," ... which is interesting, considering the NBAer was hellbent on keeping his reason for not being vaxxed a private matter.

Bottom line, Irving wants people to have control over their livelihood ... and not be forced into doing what they don't want to.

Kyrie Irving will not be allowed to play or practice for the Nets until his COVID vaccine situation is resolved, the team announced Tuesday.

Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks said in a statement that unless Irving gets vaccinated or the NBA provides him an exemption ... the star point guard will be barred from the team.

"Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough deliberation, we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant," Marks said.

"Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose. Currently the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability."

@kyrieirving / Instagram

Irving has not commented publicly on his choice to avoid the vaccine -- he told his followers on social media last month that was a "private" matter -- but he's made it clear through social media activity that he is, in fact, anti-vax.

Of course, due to New York City mandates, in order to play games and practice in NYC, players are required to be vaccinated.

So far, Irving has missed all of the team's workouts in NYC as well as the Nets' preseason games over the vaccine choice ... and it's now clear he won't be a part of any of the team's activities moving forward unless something gives.

"It is imperative that we continue to build chemistry as a team and remain true to our long-established values of togetherness and sacrifice," Marks said.

"Our championship goals for the season have not changed, and to achieve these goals, each member of our organization must pull in the same direction."

It's been reported that Irving -- who's in the middle of a 4-year, $136,490,600 contract -- stands to lose MILLIONS based on the decision.

Originally Published -- 8:25 AM PT

Mike Tyson Wilder-Fury Was One Of Greatest Fights Ever ... 'Everybody Won'

Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury will literally go down as one of the greatest fights ever, according to Mike Tyson, who says both fighters "reached all time great status" on Saturday.

If you watched the fight this weekend, you surely see Tyson's point. The two giant heavyweights went at it from the start, each dropping the other fighter multiple times throughout the fight.

Fury ultimately prevailed ... KO'ing Wilder in the 11th.

"Fury vs Wilder fight will go down as one of greatest," Tyson said on Tuesday via Twitter, "Not for skill but for action and excitement. That fight was all guts, heart & determination," Tyson says.

"Everybody won Saturday night. The fight was bigger than the hype. Both of them reached all time great status."

Tyson doesn't stop there -- he also gives major kudos to Wilder's new coach Malik Scott, who replaced longtime trainer Mark Breland after the February 2020 rematch loss.

"Wilder’s coach Malik Scott won the night with great coaching. When you are an amateur you have a coach, they nurture you, guide you and are with you every step of the way."

"Once you turn pro you get a trainer. A trainer is in your life as long as the checks are coming."

"A coach is with you for the rest of your life. A coach feels every punch you take and give too."

Bottom line ... Wilder might've officially lost, but like "Iron Mike" says ... Deontay and Tyson both won, and so did boxing.

Marquette King Hopes Gruden Scandal Opens Door For NFL Return


NFL punter Marquette King -- who was cut from the Raiders after Jon Gruden allegedly took issue with his personality -- is hoping teams give him a second look in wake of the coach's email scandal ... saying he was never the problem in Oakland.

King -- an All-Pro in 2016 -- was released in 2018 after reports claimed Gruden wasn't a fan of his outspoken personality and over-the-top celebrations.

The 32-year-old is now speculating if there was a deeper reason behind the move in light of Gruden's misogynistic, racist and homophobic emails being leaked this week ... joining "TMZ Live" to share his reaction to the bombshell scandal.

"Once I found out, it was kinda like, now I really wonder what was the real reason why I did get let go," King said. "I'm still kinda curious about that, about why I got let go. It's just been a whole roller coaster full of emotions, period."

King -- who says he never even got the chance to meet Gruden before getting cut -- spent the past 2 years questioning who he is as a person and whether he really was an issue ... adding he found himself in a "really dark place" in the weeks following his release.

King insinuates Gruden created a narrative that made him untouchable to other teams ... and now that the coach is out of the league, it could lead to new opportunities.

And if a team comes calling, King says he's ready to go ASAP ... adding he'd be one of the best punters in the NFL today.

MMA's Luis Pena 911 Call From Dom. Violence Arrest ... 'He Punched Me In The Face'


Luis Pena's girlfriend claims the UFC fighter, known by many fans as "Violent Bob Ross," choked and punched her in the face before being arrested for domestic violence ... in a 911 call obtained by TMZ Sports.

"I wasn't trying to snitch, but since my boyfriend wants to be an asshole, he put his hands on me, and he's got to go," Pena's GF told an emergency dispatcher.

28-year-old Pena -- 9-3 in professional MMA (5-3 in the UFC) -- was arrested Saturday in Broward County, Florida after allegedly getting physical with his girlfriend.

According to legal docs, Luis is also accused of assaulting another woman who attempted to intervene after Pena allegedly got physical with his GF.

When asked by the 911 operator, Pena's GF said the fighter got physical with her, hitting her.

"He punched me in the face. But, he did this also 2 days ago, I have the mark, I have a band-aid on my back. I have everything to prove it, so I would like the police to come and remove him, so I can get my things and go the f*** home."

The woman tells the operator police previously responded to the residence over a call for the same incident, but she admitted she wasn't initially helpful.

"[Cops] were mad because I wouldn't cooperate because I didn't wanna snitch on him, but unfortunately, I have to now. I would like them to come back."

FYI, it's not the first time Pena has been in trouble with the law. Back in June he was arrested for robbery (this charge was later dropped) and battery after an alleged incident with his GF.

Regarding the alleged incident on Saturday, Pena is also accused of getting physical with a second woman who told police she was trying to help Luis' GF after she witnessed him hit her, according to legal docs.

During the 911 call, the GF referred to a restraining order that bars her and Pena from cohabitating together ... and with despair in her voice, she pleads for help.

"We have a no contact order, so technically we shouldn't even be living together. I really need the cops to come and get him out now., I have scratches and bruises all over me from him, I need him gone."

"I'm done, and I need help, please."

LaMelo Ball Reveals New $125 Signature Sneaker LaVar Drops $900 Kicks

11:19 AM PT -- A sneaker war appears to be brewin' in the Ball household ... 'cause just hours after LaMelo officially revealed his MB.01s, LaVar announced his $900 Big Baller Brand lifestyle shoe.

Papa Ball posted a vid seemingly shading Melo's move to Puma on Tuesday ... saying "independency and ownership is everything" as he displays the new expensive kicks.

The BBB options cost WAY more than Melo's -- ranging from $695 to $895.

So, why so expensive?? BBB claims the shoes are made with full genuine Italian leather ... and are designed by Melo's bro, LiAngelo.

No word on if Melo knew the BBB drop was coming ... but either way, fans of the Balls have options now.

LaMelo Ball fans no longer have to shell out $400 for his signature kicks -- the Charlotte Hornets baller just revealed his first shoe with Puma ... and they come with a far-from Big Baller price tag!!

Remember, Melo left the family brand and signed a huge deal with PUMA last August ... and on Tuesday, announced his first collab with the brand will be out in December.

The kicks are called the MB.01s and look pretty dope -- with Nitro Foam in the midsole, a red colorway and wings on the side.

The sneakers also feature the words "Rare" on the sole, "Melo" on the heel and "1 of 1" on the tongue.

The sneaks also have "Not From Here" etched in front of the laces -- 'cause get it? Melo's outta this world!!

"The phrase 'Not From Here' means kind of like you’re an alien," Melo said in an interview (Sorry, Demi Lovato).

"You’re not from here, you’re something nobody’s ever seen before. You’re one of one. Something like that. It’s real different."

The best part?? Melo's new shoe is a LOT cheaper than his BBB MB1 -- like $270 cheaper -- so it's great news for fans looking to cop the new kicks.

You may have seen the Rookie of the Year rocking them at the 2021 NBA Summer League ... and they'll be available for everyone come December.

Originally Published -- 8:51 AM PT

Dwyane Wade Son Zaire Signing G League Deal ... Will Join Jazz Affiliate

Dwyane Wade's 19-year-old son is following in his dad's footsteps and taking his talents to the professional level -- Zaire Wade is set to sign a G League deal and join the Utah Jazz affiliate!!

The 6'2", 175-pound hooper was a 3-star high school prospect alongside Bronny James at Sierra Canyon ... and most recently suited up for Brewster Academy in New Hampshire for a post-grad year.

Zaire reportedly got looks from programs like South Carolina, DePaul, Nebraska, Toledo and Rhode Island ... but on Tuesday, it was reported he will forego college to play for the Jazz's Salt Lake City Stars, according to Shams Charania.

Of course, Wade is part-owner of the Jazz, so it makes sense to have his son join the organization as a player.

It's big shoes to fill -- D-Wade is a surefire Hall of Famer after 16 seasons with the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers ... averaging 22 points a game and winning 3 NBA titles.

If Zaire and Bronny (class of 2023) both make it to the NBA, fans could get that "Peanut Butter and Jelly" combo once again ... and we're here for it.

J.R. Smith Steps In Beehive, Requires Medical Attention ... In 1st College Golf Tourney

9:31 AM PT -- New footage of the bee attack has been revealed, and it's pretty shocking Smith was able to continue on with his final round Tuesday.

In the video, you can see several bees are all over Smith -- including in his hair -- biting and attacking him.

"They bit the s*** out of me!" Smith said in the clip.

Smith is now almost done with his round, he has just four holes left ... but he's struggled since the bee incident, sitting at 8-over for the day and 27-over for the tournament.

J.R. Smith's up-and-down first college golf tournament has just hit a new low ... he stepped in a beehive while playing a hole Tuesday and required medical attention.

The former NBA player -- who joined North Carolina A&T's golf team this year -- was playing in his final round at the Elon Phoenix Invitational at in Burlington, NC, when he hit a wayward shot on the 12th hole.

Smith -- according to witness Jared Bunder -- went into the woods to search for the ball ... but then stepped on a pile of bees.

Images from the scene show Smith was clearly in some pain -- he rubbed his foot/ankle area repeatedly -- and he ultimately required assistance from on-site medics.

Smith, per Bunder, let other groups play ahead of him while he received the medical care.

Smith's scorecard shows he was able to return to action, though, finishing the 12th hole with a double bogey. He then rebounded to card a par on the ensuing Par 4 13th.

So far, Smith is 2-over through his first four holes of his final round.

As we reported, Smith didn't have the best start to his first tourney with North Carolina A&T ... logging scores of 78 and 83 in his first two rounds. He's currently in 81st place.

Originally Published -- 7:14 AM PT

Ben Simmons Reports To Sixers ... Shocking Move

Ben Simmons has reported to Philadelphia ... and while that may be surprising to fans, it was even more shocking to the 76ers, who reportedly had NO IDEA the NBA star was planning to show up Monday night.

Simmons copped a flight from L.A. to Philly and pulled up to the Wells Fargo Center shortly before the Sixers' preseason game to receive a COVID-19 test ... officially kickstarting his process to rejoin the squad.

But, as ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports, Simmons did not give Philly a head's up on his arrival ... which had to have made things pretty freakin' awkward when he popped up out of nowhere.

25-year-old Simmons has been trying to force his way out of Philly for months ... even reportedly willing to miss out on millions in order to get his way.

But, the Sixers called BS' bluff, withholding 25% of his salary -- which comes out at more than $8 MILLION -- and handing down fines for missed practices and preseason games, which were piling up rapidly.

While it's still possible Simmons never suits up for the Sixers again, it's far more likely he will play for Philly while both sides either try to kiss and make up or find a reasonable trade to ship him outta town.

Simmons is set to meet with Sixers brass on Tuesday ... and we're sure that'll be completely drama-free.


Chuck Liddell Wife Also Cited For Domestic Violence ... UFC Star Says He's The Victim

6:44 AM PT -- 10/12 -- TMZ Sports has learned Chuck's wife, Heidi, is also in some hot water following the alleged incident early Monday morning.

Law enforcement sources tell us Heidi was cited on the scene because police could not determine the aggressor.

As Chuck said in the statement he released yesterday, the UFC legend asked cops if Heidi could remain at their house with a minor child who was on the premises, while he was taken to jail.

Police obliged ... and Chuck was locked up for several hours in an L.A. jail.

As for what happened before and during the incident, we're told Chuck and Heidi were at a party. They returned home and got into an argument that allegedly turned physical.

We're told neither party had injuries.

4:16 PM PT -- Liddell is opening up on his arrest ... saying he was the victim and claiming his wife had assaulted him, causing bruises and lacerations.

Although Liddell says he never got physical with his wife, he claims he was told she would be arrested, so he volunteered to go to jail in her place.

"This was one of the many times I have tried to shield a family mental health issue from the public purview," Liddell said in a statement. "It has become painfully apparent that this cannot continue, as our private life has now reached a public breaking point."

10:46 AM PT -- Liddell was just released from jail in L.A. ... and all things considered, appeared to be in good spirits as he left the Lost Hills sheriff's department.

Chuck didn't speak with reporters as he hopped into a Mercedes-Benz and rode off ... but acknowledged their questions with a fist pump.


Chuck Liddell was arrested early Monday morning for domestic violence ... and the UFC legend is currently sitting in a Los Angeles jail cell.

TMZ Sports has learned the L.A. Sherriff's Department received a call about a fight at a Liddell's Hidden Hills home. When cops arrived, they investigated ... and determined the 51-year-old former fighter was involved in a verbal argument that turned physical.

We're told the alleged victim is Liddell's wife. She did not require medical attention.

Chuck was taken to jail ... where bail was set at $20,000. He's listed at 6'2" and 240 pounds on his booking sheet.

Of course, Liddell -- AKA The Iceman -- was once one of the UFC's biggest stars and best fighters in his heyday ... with wins over Tito Ortiz, Vitor Belfort, Randy Couture and Alistair Overeem.

Liddell last fought Ortiz in 2018 ... and last year, said he was retiring for the time being.

Liddell has stayed in the fighting scene in retirement ... recently serving as referee for the Aaron Carter vs. Lamar Odom Celebrity Boxing match.

Story developing ...

Originally Published -- 10/11 6:37 AM PT

Jon Gruden's Son Staying On Raiders' Staff ... Despite Dad's Ousting

Jon Gruden is out in Las Vegas ... but there will still be a Gruden on the Raiders' staff.

Jon's 27-year-old son, Deuce Gruden, is staying put in his role as an assistant strength and conditioning coach with the team, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported late Monday night.

Of course, Deuce is accused of no wrongdoing ... but it's interesting nonetheless, given the way Jon was ousted on Monday.

As we reported, Jon resigned in disgrace following reports that he sent multiple emails from 2010 to 2018 that contained anti-gay and misogynistic language.

In a statement revealing his intentions to step down as Raiders head man, Jon said he was "sorry" for it all ... adding, "I never meant to hurt anyone."

Deuce, meanwhile, has yet to publicly comment on the situation ... but it's clear, he's not letting it affect his job status with the team.

Deuce was initially hired on Jon's staff after the 58-year-old took over the head coaching reins in 2018.

The younger Gruden had experience in the NFL prior ... initially breaking into the league as an intern on Jay Gruden's Washington Football Team staff in 2016.

MLB's Tommy Pham Reveals Gruesome Wound ... Suffered in 2020 Strip Club Stabbing

Tommy Pham is finally revealing what his back looked like the night he was stabbed at a strip club in San Diego ... and it's GRUESOME.

The Padres star remembered the one-year anniversary of his stabbing by posting a photo of his slash wound ... and you can see, the 33-year-old is clearly lucky to still be alive today.

The picture shows Pham was gashed by a blade from the back of his right hip all the way to the back of his left hip -- leaving a deep, bloody wound.

Jett Dennis

As we previously reported, Pham was stabbed after he got into an altercation with several people in the parking lot at Pacers Showgirls International on Oct. 11, 2020 ... and he says he needed 200 stitches to close the wound.

Pham -- who ended up suing the club over the incident, claiming its employees and security didn't do enough to help protect him -- ultimately made a full recovery and played well in 2021.

The outfielder logged time in 155 games, hitting 15 home runs and stealing 14 bases ... and based on his social media post Monday, it's obvious he's proud of what he overcame.

Pham's 1-year deal with the Padres expires after the 2021 season concludes ... but he's expected to command interest from several teams in free agency this offseason.

Jon Gruden Out As Raiders Coach ... Allegedly Used Homophobic Slurs In Emails

7:28 PM PT -- Gruden released a statement minutes ago ... saying, "I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders."

"I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation."

"I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone."

6:15 PM PT -- Gruden is OUT as coach of the Raiders after his email scandal.

According to multiple reports, Gruden met Monday with Raiders owner, Mark Davis, and he's no longer coaching the team.

It's somehow getting worse for Jon Gruden, because his emails don't just include racist language ... now there's a report he also used homophobic slurs aimed at Roger Goodell.

Gruden, who already apologized for a racially insensitive email he fired off in 2011, reportedly referred to the NFL Commissioner as a "f*****" and "clueless anti-football p****" ... according to emails obtained by The New York Times.

Gruden also reportedly wrote Goodell should not have pressured former NFL coach, Jeff Fisher, to draft "queers" in 2014 ... referencing Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL.

The alleged homophobic language might not sit well in Gruden's locker room ... he's currently the coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, who have defensive lineman Carl Nassib on the roster, the first active player who is openly gay.

According to The New York Times, Gruden fired off the emails from 2010 to 2018, when he was out of pro football and working as an analyst for "Monday Night Football" on ESPN.

Gruden reportedly aimed homophobic slurs at Goodell in several instances, as well as using other offensive language to describe NFL owners, coaches and media.

Even Barack Obama and Joe Biden were reportedly mentioned in Gruden's emails ... with Gruden ripping Obama during his 2012 re-election campaign and referring to Biden as a "nervous clueless p****."

As we reported ... Gruden's been on the hot seat since a 2011 email was uncovered, where he says NFL Players Association president, DeMaurice Smith, had "lips the size of Michelin tires."

Las Vegas Raiders

Gruden apologized for the racist email a second time Sunday, after his team lost to the Chicago Bears, saying he doesn't "have an ounce of racism in me."

The new report also says Gruden mocked Caitlyn Jenner in his emails, after she received an award from ESPN in 2015 following her transition.

Gruden's currently in the 4th year of a 10-year, $100 million contract to coach the Raiders ... and it's unclear if he faces any discipline.

Originally Published -- 6:11 PM PT

Oscar De La Hoya Tyson Fury's One Of The All-Time Greats ... But, Not 'The Greatest'


Tyson Fury, 2-time heavyweight champion of the world, undefeated (31-0-1) with wins over Deontay Wilder (twice) and Wladimir Klitschko ... the greatest heavyweight ever?!?

Hell no, according to Oscar De La Hoya ... who, standing with his girlfriend Holly Sonders, tells TMZ Sports the Gypsy King is certainly one of the greatest of this generation -- but not the best ever.

"Of all-time? All-time? So, you're disrespecting Muhammad Ali?" the former 6 weight class world champ fired back at our guy.

FYI, 6'3" Ali finished his legendary career with a 56-5 record ... with wins over George Foreman, Sonny Liston (twice), Joe Frazier (twice), and Ken Norton (twice).

For what it's worth, just minutes later, Ali's grandson, pro fighter Nico Ali Walsh told us Fury was a top 5 heavyweight ... and a bout between TF and his grandpa would be the greatest fight ever.


So, maybe not that crazy of a question.

Even if De La Hoya isn't ready to put Fury above Ali ... he still believes the trilogy fight was incredible.

"I thought it was a beautiful fight. I'm happy that Tyson and the Bronze Bomber gave us an amazing performance," Oscar said.

"I promoted the Bronze Bomber for 40 fights, and he always had a heart. So, I'm glad that they gave us a beautiful fight."

Bottom line ... he might not be the greatest (at least not yet), but Fury has injected himself into the conversation of best heavyweights of all-time.

Jon Gruden Apologizes Again For 2011 Email DeMaurice Smith Responds

Las Vegas Raiders

4:39 PM PT -- DeMaurice Smith is breaking his silence on the Jon Gruden email from 2011, saying "it's proof the fight against racism, racist tropes and intolerance is not over."

"This is not about an email as much as it is about a pervasive belief by some that people who look like me can be treated as less," DS said on social media.

The NFLPA Director also says Gruden personally reached out to him, and the men plan to "connect" sometime soon.

"But, make no mistake, the news is not about what is said in our private conversation, but what else is said by people who never thought they would be exposed and how they are going to be held to account," Smith wrote.

Jon Gruden apologized for his racially insensitive 2011 email once again on Sunday ... insisting he's not a racist and telling reporters, "I can't tell you how sick I am."

The Las Vegas head coach met with media members just minutes after the Raiders' 20-9 loss to the Bears ... and it wasn't long before Gruden had to answer questions about an 11-year-old email that contained racist language.

"I apologize for the insensitive remarks," the 58-year-old said. "I had no racial intentions with those remarks at all."

If you missed it ... during a probe into allegations of workplace misconduct in the Washington Football Team's organization, an email Gruden had sent to a team exec had been discovered by NFL investigators.

In the body of the message, Gruden had said NFL Players Association president DeMaurice Smith had "lips the size of Michelin tires."

Gruden initially apologized on Friday, claiming the comment was not a racist one ... but rather a unique way of calling Smith a liar.

On Sunday, he reiterated that stance yet again ... adding, "I stand here in front of everybody apologizing. I don't have an ounce of racism in me."

"I'm a guy that takes pride in leading people together. I'll continue to do that for the rest of my life. And again I apologize to D. Smith and anybody out there that I have offended."

Gruden said he had yet to meet with NFL officials over the email ... but acknowledged that could happen in the next few days.

It's unclear if the coach faces any discipline. League sources said Friday a probe was ongoing.

Raiders owner Mark Davis, meanwhile, said Gruden's words were "disturbing" and added, "we are addressing the matter with Coach Gruden."

Originally Published -- 6:15 AM PT

Michael Jordan Signed Patch Card Sells For $2.7 Mil ... Record Price!!!

Even after retirement, Michael Jordan still finds ways to break records ... 'cause a game-worn patch card he signed just sold for $2.7 MILLION, an all-time high price for a piece of His Airness' memorabilia.

The rare card is a 1997-98 Upper Deck -- and it's considered one of the greatest hoops cards ever made.

It features M.J.'s autograph, a swatch of the jersey that he wore during the 1992 NBA All-Star Game, and it's limited to just 23 copies.

But, more importantly, it's believed to be the first card to ever feature both a piece of a game-worn jersey and a signature -- which experts say make it truly historic.

"It makes sense that this card -- and the innovative new designs and card styles that it spawned in the industry -- is one of the most pivotal in our hobby," said Ken Goldin, president of Goldin Auctions, which auctioned off the piece Monday.

"Owning this card is like owning a sliver of MJ's legacy and we were very proud that we were trusted with this record-breaking transaction."

The card is also an important piece because the '92 All-Star was the one where Magic Johnson made his return to the NBA after retiring before the 1991-92 season.

The previous record for Jordan memorabilia was held by a different version of the card -- numbered 21/23 -- which sold for $2.1 million at Goldin Auctions earlier this year.

No word on who the buyers or the sellers were ... but congrats on the transaction to both!

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