The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Induction pays tribute to those few, select superachievers whose careers have taken them to the pinnacle of hardcourt accomplishment. A traditional part of the annual slate of festivities held at the Hall to honor the titans of basketball is Grey Flannel’s Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Auction, which this year brought in $1.48 million – a result the company’s owner, Richard E. Russek, described as “fantastic, especially considering there were 222 lots in the sale. The average lot price was $6,671, and 100 percent of the lots sold.” All prices quoted in this report are inclusive of 20% buyer’s premium.
Held live at the revered Hall of Fame on Friday afternoon, Aug. 13, 2010, the Fifth Annual BHOF Induction Auction featured scrupulously authenticated jerseys, championship rings, signed basketballs and NBA team banners. Collectors called the shots, with two items of 1960s player apparel topping the roster of prices realized.
Both a personalized 1968-69 Boston Celtics home warm-up jacket worn by Bill Russell during his final season and a 1965-66 Wilt Chamberlain Philadelphia 76ers game-used home jersey scored individual selling prices of $84,000. The red and white #13 Chamberlain jersey had the added cachet of having been from an MVP and scoring title season, and was a style used for one year only.
A unique and unprecedented selection of 12 personal mementos from the career of slam-dunking phenom and 2010 posthumous Hall of Fame inductee Dennis Johnson was offered by Grey Flannel with impeccable provenance. Each article was accompanied by a letter of authenticity from the Johnson family, whose members were present for Dennis’ 2010 posthumous induction to the Hall of Fame. Featured in a Boston Globe article prior to the auction, Johnson’s 1984 Boston Celtics World Championship player’s ring adorned with a diamond-emblazed shamrock motif, the name “Johnston” and other symbols and words associated with the storied franchise soared to $78,000. Johnson’s 1980 Western Conference game-used All-Star uniform attracted a winning bid of $24,000.
One of the auction’s Premier Lots, an autographed circa-1976 Portland Trailblazers home jersey worn by NBA legend Bill Walton, proved the enduring fascination fans have for the 1977-78 MVP they call “the Big Red-head.” Entered in the sale with a reserve of $5,000, the Walton jersey powered its way to a $72,000 selling price.
Another top performer was Elvin Hayes’ circa-1970 game-used and autographed San Diego Rockets home uniform. On the jersey’s front was the name “Rockets,” while the “E” on the back of the jersey needed no further explanation. After 23 bids that culminated at $60,000, the uniform was off to a new home.
The old-school appeal of a Dolph Schayes mid-1950s Syracuse Nationals game-used and autographed home jersey was further heightened by the fact that it is the only known Schayes jersey from his years with the Nats. Against a $5,000 reserve, it rose to a $51,000 finish at auction.
Additional highlights among the game-worn apparel included a mid-1960s Gail Goodrich rookie-era L.A. Lakers autographed road jersey and a late-1960s Jerry West game-used Lakers home uniform. Each was sold for an impressive $48,000. Another Lakers treasure, a late-1960s Elgin Baylor game-used road uniform garnered $39,000.
The enduring fascination for mementos associated with the great “Pistol” Pete Maravich shows no signs of lessening. The second-youngest player ever inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame (in 1987, at age 39, less than a year before his passing), Maravich was described by the Hall as being “perhaps the greatest creative offensive talent in history.” Grey Flannel was proud to present at auction a 47-point game ball signed by Maravich on Feb. 8, 1975, the night of his sold-out return to the Atlanta Hawks. Offered with a $2,500 reserve, it was nothing but net all the way to $33,000.
“Our next sale is scheduled to be held on November 17th, and the leading item consigned so far is the 1961 #6 road jersey that Mickey Mantle began wearing in his spring training – wow!” said Rich Russek. “Anyone with great sports items is going to want to be part of this great auction, and we invite them to contact us about consigning.”
View the fully illustrated 2010 Basketball Hall of Fame auction catalog, complete with prices realized, online at www.greyflannelauctions.com. Contact Grey Flannel Auctions by calling 631-288-7800 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.