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    Issel burns it up, in more ways than one

    1970-74 Dan Issel Game Worn Kentucky Colonels Rookie-Era Uniform, MEARS A10. His 2,138 points under legendary coach Adolph Rupp stands to this day as the most ever recorded by a Kentucky Wildcat, and despite being drafted by the Detroit Pistons of the NBA in 1970, Issel opted instead to stay faithful to the "Kentucky 44" jersey that had served him so well in the NCAA. The transition was seamless, and Issel would share Rookie of the Year honors with Charlie Scott of the Virginia Squires at the close of his inaugural 1970-71 professional campaign.

    Presented is the road blue format of Colonels uniform that Issel wore during the first four seasons of his pro career, and quite possibly during that ROY debut. The cash-strapped Association was well known for recycling uniforms for multiple seasons of wear, so it's a near certainty that this representation saw action during a season punctuated with a scoring title, as Issel took top honors in each of his first three seasons wearing this format. Issel's 2,538 points during the 1971-72 season stands as the top single-season tally in ABA history.

    The blue knit jersey obverse bears white tackle twill identifiers reporting "Kentucky 44," and closer inspection reveals three circular patches of vintage team repairs. These odd alterations are explained in the letter of provenance on team letterhead from Colonels trainer Lloyd "Pink" Gardner, from whom our consignor purchased an array of jerseys and other artifacts. Gardner explains, "The uniform has burn holes because it was common practice for Issel to dry it over the lamp in his hotel room after a game. After it was repaired, Issel continued to wear it for the remainder of the season." Verso remained free of the hotel room conflagration, reporting "Issel 44" in white tackle twill. Rear interior tail holds proper "Rawlings [size] 42" label beside a washing instructions tag.

    Matching trunks exhibit the same heavy wear of the jersey, with matching "Rawlings" label in waistband denoting size "38" and markered with a handwritten number "44." A large burn hole at the left hip appears to have put this half of the uniform out of commission, as it remains unrepaired. Presenting in 100% original and unaltered state (discounting the team-instituted burn repairs) and supported by a team letter, the uniform earns the top assessment of leading uniform authentication service MEARS. It ranks with the most impressive and important ensembles to emerge from the American Basketball Association. LOA from MEARS, A10. LOA from Heritage Auctions. Letter of provenance from Kentucky Colonels trainer Lloyd Gardner.

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    Auction Dates
    July, 2015
    30th-31st Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
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