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Worn during Rookie of the Year & Championship seasons, including NBA Finals!1969-71 Lew Alcindor Game Worn Milwaukee Bucks Jersey, MEARS A10. It was one of the most consequential coin flips in the history of American sports. After turning down a million dollar offer to sign as the star attraction of the Harlem Globetrotters, the three-time NCAA National Player of the Year from UCLA opted for fate instead, allowing a fifty-cent piece to determine his new home. Phoenix Suns executive Jerry Colangelo was tasked with making the call in the NBA offices for the privilege of the first pick in the 1969 draft, confident as he watched the tumbling Kennedy half dollar fall toward Commissioner J. Walter Kennedy's outstretched palm. The Arizona Republic newspaper had run a poll of its readers the previous week to vote heads or tails, and the residents of Phoenix had elected the former. How could they be wrong? "I just felt like we were going to win the flip," Colangelo later lamented. "We had taken a group of young guys in the expansion draft who would have fit perfectly with him (Alcindor). We would have been in prime position to have a good long run.''
But rather than the profile of the fallen President, a stern bald eagle stared up at him, delivering the first draft pick, and thus the man who would become the most prolific scorer in the history of professional basketball, to the fledgling Milwaukee Bucks franchise. Here we present the home white jersey that the future Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wore both during that historic 1969-70 rookie campaign, and again the following season that concluded with the franchise's first, and still only, NBA Championship.
Ironclad provenance validating this remarkable dual vintage is supplied in the form of a detailed letter from former Bucks equipment manager Patrick McBride, the consignor of this jersey, the Oscar Robertson jersey, and several other Bucks relics offered in the Final Session portion of this auction. We stress, however, that rookie half of the equation is further assured by the particular format of tagging at lower left front tail. Compare to the Robertson jersey that follows this lot, where you'll note that a secondary "Sand-Knit" label appears, a tagging method first introduced in 1970. The experts at MEARS, the industry's leading authenticator of game used material, assure us that the single-label style of the Alcindor remains complete and unaltered, as do all other aspects of the garment, accounting for both their "1969-71" assignation of vintage and their unqualified A10 rating.
The white durene of the jersey body has taken on a creamy tone through hours of sweaty wear and the passing of decades, but the green and orange tackle twill forming "Bucks 33" on the chest, and the repeat of the digits on verso, remains bold, yet butter-soft from use. Elasticized green and red trim rings the collar and arm holes. A black markered letter "M" appears on the "Sand-Knit size 44" label, though McBride could not recall the meaning of it during our consignment interview.
As noted in the introductory paragraph within this auction catalog, McBride attests in his letter of provenance that this jersey (like the Robertson) was last worn in the NBA Finals, a four-game sweep of the Eastern Champion Baltimore Bullets. He further states that each player used two home and two road jerseys per season, and that he personally delivered the other home white Alcindor and Robertson to the Hall of Fame in Springfield at the conclusion of the season.
A strong argument could be made that this is the single-most important and valuable NBA jersey ever made available for public sale. We'll let the data speak for itself:
* NBA career scoring leader.
* Worn during Rookie of the Year season.
* Also worn during the only NBA Championship season in Milwaukee Bucks franchise history, inclusive of the NBA Finals, for which Alcindor earned the Finals MVP Award.
* Championship season was likewise Alcindor's first of six NBA MVP campaigns.
* Championship season was likewise the first of two in which Alcindor claimed the NBA scoring title.
LOA from MEARS, A10. Letter of provenance from Milwaukee Bucks equipment manager. Copy of Sports Illustrated picturing Alcindor in identical jersey is included.
1969-71 Lew Alcindor Game Worn Milwaukee Bucks Jersey, MEARS A10.
*A donation of $100 to the American Red Cross is required to attend the Live auction.
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2017 June 29 Premium Sportscard Catalog Auction - Dallas