Wilt Chamberlain’s jersey from the 1972 NBA Finals is expected to sell for more than $4 million in an upcoming auction at Sotheby’s. It is considered to be the most valuable piece of his memorabilia to ever appear on the market.
According to the collectibles broker, this is the jersey he wore during the Lakers’ championship-clinching Game 5 victory over the New York Knicks. Chamberlain recorded 24 points, 29 rebounds and eight blocks during that game as the Lakers claimed a 114‐100 victory. He was named the Finals MVP shortly after, becoming the oldest Finals MVP up that point at the age of 35.
“This jersey holds an extraordinarily significant place in the history of Los Angeles, not only adorned by the man many consider to be the greatest player ever to step on the court, but as a relic from one of the greatest franchises in sports history,” said Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectibles.
Perhaps more impressive than his performance during that Game 5 is the fact that Chamberlain was playing with a broken hand. At the time it was believed that his dominant hand had just been strained after he took a fall during Game 4, but when he found out the truth after looking at the X-rays, Chamberlain stayed quiet and played through it. In an interview after winning the title, Chamberlain said only he and his doctor knew about it.
“At that time, I honestly felt that [I] couldn’t play on Sunday, couldn’t bend it. But with an anti‐inflammatory injection and ice packs, it improved,” Chamberlain said, per The New York Times.
So far, the biggest price tag for a Chamberlain memorabilia item came for a jersey he wore during his rookie season with the Philadelphia Warriors, which sold for $1.79 million this past June.
The online bidding for Chamberlain’s 1972 NBA Finals jersey is scheduled to run from Aug. 28 to Sept. 27. As reported by the Associated Press, the jersey will be on display for the public at Sotheby’s Los Angeles gallery from Aug. 2-31.