Spring Premier Auction 2019

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Originally introduced as a demonstration sport back in 1904, basketball had spread so far in the ensuing three decades that it became an official Olympic sport in 1936. Appropriately, the U.S. won the first Gold in ’36, and remained the dominant force at the Games until unseated by the Soviet Union in 1972. Until 1992 all players were amateurs, usually selected from America’s best college squads, and the 1960 team that would compete at the Rome Olympics was no different.

For these Games, California Golden Bears head coach Pete Newell assembled what has gone down in history as the greatest amateur basketball team ever assembled. From Ohio State came Jerry Lucas, Walt Bellamy from Indiana, West Virginia alum Jerry West and Cincinnati’s Oscar Robertson. All four of these guys would eventually become Hall of Famers, and ten of the 12 would soon play in the NBA, but the 1960 Games was their first taste of fame. In Rome, USA rolled over the competition, winning all eight matches by an average margin of 42 points. Five players averaged double-figures in scoring, but the brightest star to emerge was University of Cincinnati’s Oscar Robertson who led the team at 17 points per game. The entire 1960 squad was inducted as a group into the Naismith Hall of Fame, making Robertson, voted in individually in 1980, one of the few players to be enshrined twice.

Among the most prized mementos collected by Oscar Robertson during his storied career is the game ball from the 1960 Olympic Finals, presumably the only one used in USA’s 90-63 Gold Medal win over Brazil. The vintage leather-laced transitional era basketball, appropriately aged with evident game usage, has been signed by all 12 players: Jerry West, Walt Bellamy, Jerry Lucas, Birdie Haldorson, Al Kelley, Adrian Smith, Les Lane, Darrall Imhoff, Terry Dischinger, Jay Arnette, Bob Boozer and Oscar Robertson, whose signature is lighter due to the others having been enhanced at some point, according to PSA/DNA. The minor blemish does little to diminish the fact that this Gold Medal game ball is perhaps the most important basketball ever offered publicly.

Included in this lot is the same blue satin-lined Plexiglas display case in which the ball was displayed prominently within Robertson's home for many years. Oscar has beautifully signed and inscribed a black placard in gold paint pen, "The 1960 Olympic Finals Game Ball - USA Gold Medal Champions - Oscar Robertson." One would be hard pressed to produce a finer piece of memorabilia to immortalize the greatest amateur team of all time, the original “Dream Team.” Comes with an LOA from Oscar Robertson and LOA from PSA/DNA\ for the autographs (indicating enhancement).


PLEASE NOTE: Oscar will donate a portion of his auction proceeds to the Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center and LeBow Institute for Myeloma Therapeutics at Dana Farber. This renowned cancer treatment center “provides comprehensive care to patients with multiple myeloma, including promising new therapies through clinical trials rooted in an approach that brings laboratory discoveries quickly to the clinical setting” (https://www.dana-farber.org/multiple-myeloma-program).

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