Almost certainly the one worn on his famous Topps rookie card!1969-70 Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) Game Worn Milwaukee Bucks Rookie Shooting Shirt. In our years in the sports collectibles auction industry, we've learned that the majority of collectors rarely cross the line that divides memorabilia from trading cards, setting their sites firmly on one half of the equation to the exclusion of the other. We suspect this offering may briefly alter that dynamic, as this kelly green shirt with the red-striped white collar will instantly strike the vintage basketball card hobbyist with a bolt of recognition. We can state with almost complete certainty that this is the very shirt worn by the man who would become the NBA's all-time scoring leader on the most coveted rookie card in the sport.
The design of this rookie Alcindor is an exact match to that famous cardboard "Tall Boy," so the question rests entirely on the population of shooting shirts issued annually to each player. Our strong assumption is that there was only one. Though this shirt does not derive from the Patrick McBride Collection featured in our February "Platinum Night" auction, we learned from the former equipment manager just how tight with funds the team was at this period in history. Even the towels were carefully monitored, and requests for replacements regularly denied. And remember that Alcindor wore the rookie jersey sold on Platinum Night in both his first and second seasons, a strong suggestion that this shirt likewise served a second tour of duty.
The "Alcindor" on the back, which the experts at MEARS state is reaffixed but original, assures that two seasons represents the maximum tour of duty, as the superstar center became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the 1971-72 season. Assurance that the plate has always belonged to this shirt comes in the form of an embroidered green felt swatch at interior collar with a red number "33." It is applied below the twin "Sand-Knit" labeling, the first reporting a local Milwaukee distributor, the second "Size 46." A gorgeous chenille Bucks logo is original and unmoved over the heart.
Our consignor wishes to maintain his anonymity, but reports that the garment was acquired from a Bucks ball boy in the early 1970's. The shirt exhibits solid wear but no damage, ready for proud display next to your high-grade Topps card of the game's most prolific offensive weapon. LOA from MEARS, Authentic.
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