Wilt Chamberlain's Lakers Jersey To Fetch Over $4M At Auction

Wilt Chamberlain wore the jersey during the 1972 NBA Finals, where he led the Lakers to victory and won the MVP Award despite nursing a broken hand. 

Sotheby’s recently announced that a Lakers jersey worn by basketball behemoth Wilt Chamberlain will be going under the hammer this August 28 to September 27. The item is expected to fetch more than $4 million in the upcoming auction, making it the most expensive piece of memorabilia from the player. 

Chamberlain's victory Lakers jersey
The front of Chamberlain’s victory Lakers jersey/Photo from the Sotheby’s website
Chamberlain's victory Lakers jersey
The back of Chamberlain’s victory Lakers jersey/Photo from the Sotheby’s website

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Other pieces of memorabilia featuring Chamberlain and the jersey will also accompany the garment, as per an article from Inquirer. These include photographs, newspaper snippets, posters, trading cards, and magazines, among others.

Chamberlain playing while wearing the jersey
A Sports Illustrated cover featuring Chamberlain playing while wearing the jersey/Photo from the Sotheby’s website

The 1972 Victory Jersey

Chamberlain wore the jersey in question during the 1972 NBA Finals, where he led the Los Angeles Lakers to victory against the New York Knicks with a score of 114-100. He also received the NBA Finals MVP Award for his performance. What makes the win more impressive is the fact that Chamberlain was still nursing a broken hand at the time, according to a report by CBS

Chamberlain playing while wearing the jersey
Another Sports Illustrated cover of Chamberlain winning the 1972 NBA Finals with the jersey/Photo from the Sotheby’s website

“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,” explained Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s head of streetwear and collectibles, in a recent statement

“We’re incredibly excited to offer one of the most elite sports artifacts ever to come to market and to bring it back to its home city for a month-long display where it can be cherished by Lakers fans and basketball enthusiasts alike,” Wachter continued.

Chamberlain playing while wearing the jersey
Material that authenticates the jersey/Photo from the Sotheby’s website

The momentous NBA Finals victory added another feather to the athlete’s cap, as he was the oldest player to ever receive the MVP award at the age of 35. Indeed, by the time Chamberlain was playing for the Lakers, he had already experienced a full career filled with numerous accolades. 

The Man, the Myth, the Legend

Chamberlain is one of the greatest basketball players to have ever graced the court. According to Biography, he’s the first NBA player to have scored over 30,000 cumulative points throughout his career, as well as the only player to have earned 100 points in a single game. He also set the record for most points scored in one season at 4,029. 

young Wilt Chamberlain
A young Wilt Chamberlain in 1959 wearing a Harlem Globetrotters jersey/Photo by Fred Palumbo via Wikimedia Commons

The athlete went by the nickname “Wilt the Stilt” due to his impressive height at seven-foot-one. He started his professional basketball career playing for the Harlem Globetrotters, but went on to play for other teams like the Philadelphia Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, and eventually, the famous Los Angeles Lakers. 

He already experienced numerous successes at the beginning of his career, including winning the NBA Rookie of the Year and NBA Most Valuable Player awards. To this day, people know Chamberlain as the man who never fouled out in an NBA game. 

A Legacy Unmatched

When the athlete eventually retired in 1973, he still kept busy by writing a memoir (View from Above), coaching various basketball teams, and even starting a brief stint in acting (the most notable project being the film Conan the Destroyer alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger). 

By 1978, the Basketball Hall of Fame inducted Chamberlain into their prestigious roster of legends. In 1996, the NBA included him in their top 50 players of all time. 

Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain playing for Los Angeles Lakers in the 1969 NBA finals against the Boston Celtics/Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The accomplished Chamberlain passed away in his Los Angeles abode on October 12, 1999 due to heart failure. Though it’s been more than two decades since his passing, he continues to be a fixture in the world of basketball and the memories of athletes both new and old. 

“Wilt was one of the greatest ever, and we will never see another one like him,” shared Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a fellow basketball legend, in a statement to the Associated Press upon Chamberlain’s death. 

Former NBA Commissioner David Stern added: “We’ve lost a giant of a man in every sense of the word. The shadow of accomplishment he cast over our game is unlikely ever to be matched.”

Banner photo from the Sotheby’s website.

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