2022 WINTER PREMIER AUCTION

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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 2/6/2022

In 1961, founder and owner of the popular and successful Harlem Globetrotters Abe Saperstein founded the American Basketball League (ABL). But there is a back story behind the formation of this league, a time when the NBA had only (9) franchises.

The legend has it that Mr. Saperstein, who's Globetrotters often played games as part of double headers at NBA arenas which greatly boosted attendance and certainly helped keep the fledgling NBA afloat, was under the impression that due to his years of NBA "favors", when the NBA expanded out west to Los Angeles he would be awarded the franchise.

But when the Minneapolis Lakers relocated to Los Angeles, Mr. Saperstein was left out of the picture. In response to that snub he formed his own rival professsional hoop league. He made sure there was an ABL franchise in Los Angeles, the LA Jets. The upstart ABL employed a three-point shot, which was adopted later by the ABA and eventually the NBA.

In the inaugural ABL season of 1961-62, the Cleveland Pipers, a franchise owned by future New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and coached by former Boston Celtics' great Bill Sharman, won the title. Future Hall of Famer, but then in exile from the NBA for (unsubstantiated) ties to a gambling scandal, Connie Hawkins of the Pittsburgh Rens was the league MVP. The "fun" was short-lived, though. Half-way through the 1962-63 season, the league folded.

Presented here is an ultra-rare ABL Spalding "Last Bilt' leather game ball. For a 60+ year old ball it shows only moderate wear and bears the ABL logo and Commissioner Abe Saperstein's facsimile signature. So cool!

ABL items are quite rare and this is the first such basketball we have ever seen, let alone presented for auction. A significant  addition for a vintage basketball collector, or any collector interested in chronicling this often overlooked chapter in the history of professional basketball. Imagine that some of the first professional basketball 3 pointers were likely made with this very ball!

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Minimum Bid: $500
Final prices include buyers premium.: $8,711
Number Bids:17
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