Depending on how successful one’s career is, a professional athlete can acquire a warehouse full of memorabilia commemorating specific team championships and personal accomplishments.
Seriously, over time, it can be a lot for the cleaning crew to dust every Friday.
Some athletes value every memento, filling walls with plaques, cases with trophies that recreate timelines and stir memories. But for some, the nostalgia eventually wears off and all the stuff simply becomes stuff. At that point, the goal shifts from acquisition to disposal.
For the lucky athlete, there is another wonderful solution. One man’s mess is another man’s treasure. And there is a collector interested in just about every piece of hardware a pro athlete cares to sell.
The latest example of this is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. Imagine what his home must look like after his fabled college and pro career.
Abdul-Jabbar has announced he is putting four of his NBA Championship rings up for auction. But those items are just boldface names on his list of hundreds of trinkets the Hall of Famer center is peddling.
However, this sale does appear to benefit himself, unlike many indigent athletes who have literally sold their soles – and spikes – to help them in times of financial trouble. Remember, Lawrence Taylor and William “Refrigerator” Perry are just two of the many who have sold Super Bowl rings for quick cash.
Kareem’s stuff is being sold at an auction conducted by Goldin Auctions. And reports indicated the majority of the profits will benefit his Skyhook Foundation charity, which helps kids learn about science, technology, engineering and math.
The rings on the market honor the four titles (1980, 1985, 1987 and 1988) he won with the Los Angeles Lakers. Abdul-Jabbar is also selling a game-used, signed and inscribed basketball from his final game in 1989.
“When it comes to choosing between storing a championship ring or trophy in a room, or providing kids with an opportunity to change their lives, the choice is pretty simple. Sell it all,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote on his blog about why he’s auctioning off valuables from his sports history.
“Looking back on what I have done with my life, instead of gazing at the sparkle of jewels or gold plating celebrating something I did a long time ago, I’d rather look into the delighted face of a child holding their first caterpillar and think about what I might be doing for their future.
“That’s a history that has no price.”
In addition, Abdul-Jabbar is also auctioning his class ring from Power Memorial High School, a pair of goggles, an ice bucket, a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, a VHS recording of his Hall of Fame induction in 1995 and various other awards from his past. Also available are game-worn jerseys, uniforms, trophies and even various keys to cities that he received.
Abdul-Jabbar, 71, scored 38,387 points. When he retired, no player had scored more points, blocked more shots, won more Most Valuable Player Awards, played in more All-Star Games or in more seasons.
Abdul-Jabbar was Rookie of the Year, won six NBA titles, was a six-time NBA MVP, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, a 19-time All-Star, a two-time scoring champion and a member of the NBA 35th and 50th Anniversary All-Time Teams.
In case you have room in your safety deposit box, the rings will start with a minimum bid of $60,000.
“Since my life is still happening and ever-evolving, I am less personally attached to those items than I am to my desire to create new history for myself – and futures for others,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “Much of the proceeds from my auction will go to support my charity, the Skyhook Foundation, whose mission is to ‘give kids a shot that can’t be blocked.’
“We do this by sending children from economically challenged schools to five days in the Angeles National Forest to experience the wonders of nature and learn the basics about science, technology, and engineering.”
Abdul-Jabbar went into more depth about his decision on his personal website.
“My sports memorabilia also have a history. My history. My life,” he wrote. “Camp Skyhook is an immersive hands-on experience that takes kids out of school for five days and four nights. They go from auditory learning to utilizing all of their senses in the great outdoors. Our hope is not just to get them out of the city to commune with the outdoors, but to stimulate an interest in the sciences that might lead them to fulfilling careers.
“Looking back on what I have done with my life, instead of gazing at the sparkle of jewels or gold plating celebrating something I did a long time ago, I’d rather look into the delighted face of a child holding their first caterpillar and think about what I might be doing for their future. That’s a history that has no price. … I have no doubt the auction will be successful and many collectors throughout the World will be adding prized possessions to their collections.”