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    Hoisted by Larry Bird, Michael Jordan!

    The John R. Wooden Award Player of the Year Perpetual Trophy, 1977-84. When this remarkable award-college basketball's equivalent to the Heisman Trophy--first came to market in 2011, it was identified as Michael Jordan's personal trophy, a reasonable but faulty assessment considering the fact that Jordan's name is the last engraved on the lowermost plaques recounting all past recipients. As the story was told, the trophy was damaged when shipped to Jordan and a new model was sent in replacement. The offered example was purported to be the restored Jordan original.

    There is more than a kernel of truth to the tale, but the full story is actually even more remarkable. Like hockey's Stanley Cup, there are actually two formats of the Wooden Award. Victorious players are sent personal models for keeps after the award ceremony, but the original, perpetual model is simply updated annually with the engraved names of the latest Champion--hoisted by all, owned by none.

    An email exchange with the maker of this trophy revealed the thrilling truth, that this is not Jordan's personal original, but rather the perpetual trophy that met every winner from Marques Johnson in the debut of the Wooden Award in 1977, to Larry Bird in 1979, to Danny Ainge in 1980, and then twice to Virginia's Ralph Sampson before its final presentation to a young Tar Heel named Michael Jordan in 1984. Each hardcourt hero was shipped a slightly different version, but the engraved plaques at the base listing each winner from 1977 through 1984 confirm that this is the original, singular, John R. Wooden Award.

    The trophy was indeed damaged following the 1984 presentation to basketball's greatest star, sending it into retirement and requiring a newly constructed replacement to carry on its duties at the award's permanent home in the Los Angeles Athletic Club. Skillful restoration has left little indication of the trophy's unfortunate tumble before the 1985 award ceremonies, and it appears today exactly as it did at the Bird and Jordan coronations.

    The trophy measures approximately 17.75x12.5x8.5", its most arresting design feature being the five figural players atop the solid wooden base, representing coach John Wooden's ideal of a total basketball player as one who excels in dribbling, shooting, defending, passing and rebounding. The figures are cast, hand-polished and soldered together, electroplated to the base. The figures are constructed of a zinc alloy and stand atop a pentagonal base that is plated with copper and nickel and then plated with bronze for the polished finish. Weight is twenty-five pounds.

    Affixed to the central portion of the base is an engraved plaque that supplies the historic significance: "The Los Angeles Athletic Club, John R. Wooden Award, Presented Annually to the Outstanding Collegiate Basketball Player in the United States." The lower base holds the engraved year, name and college of every recipient, the last being "1984 Michael Jordan, University of North Carolina."

    In what is arguably the most sparkling silver lining in the history of sports collectibles, the mid-eighties mishap that sent this trophy into retirement provides the opportunity to own the most significant collegiate basketball artifact known. It's a thrilling development for the most serious of athletic award collectors. Third party shipping required.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    Jul-Aug, 2014
    31st-1st Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 5,547

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

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