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Lot # 27 (of 1866)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

NBA 50 Greatest Players Signed Limited-Edition Lithograph - #1/1 Issued to George Mikan!

Starting Bid - $20,000, Sold For - $44,438

The NBA 50 Greatest Players signed lithograph is universally regarded as the premier signed basketball piece ever created. Offered here is the very lithograph issued to George Mikan in commemoration of his selection as one of the NBA's 50 greatest players. Hand numbered "Mikan 1/1" in pencil in the lower left corner. This is only the fourth player-issued NBA 50 Greatest Players signed lithograph we have ever seen offered at public auction. The production of this piece was one of the most ambitious signing projects in the history of sports. In conjunction with the NBA's 50th anniversary in 1996, the NBA named its 50 greatest players. Remarkably, 49 of the 50 players selected were alive and present (only Pete Maravich was deceased at the time) when they were honored as part of the 1996-1997 All-Star festivities. A magnificent creation was unveiled during that event: a series of limited-edition lithographs (39 x 25 inches). These incredible pieces, printed on the highest quality acid-free paper and bearing the likeness of each of the 50 greatest players as selected by the NBA, were created under the supervision of the National Basketball Association as a special keepsake and tribute to the selection of the sport's greatest stars of all time. Each player was requested to neatly sign the litho in pencil beneath his respective image. The edition was limited to 250 individually numbered pieces, with the first 50 going directly to the players. Some of the remaining 200 signed prints (100 "NBA Edition," 50 "Legends Edition," and 50 "Field of Dreams Edition") were distributed to league officials. The remaining very limited number of fully signed pieces were offered to the public at $25,000 per print. They immediately sold out. Today this unique NBA-sponsored project represents the most highly regarded, desirable, and important signed sports art ever conceived. Those few collectors who were fortunate enough to acquire these masterpieces have been very reluctant to part with them. The fact that these prints are universally recognized as the ultimate blue-chip sports-related signed art print, and have continued to escalate in value, is testimony to the uniquely high esteem in which they are held. The 50 Greatest Players lithograph is the ultimate symbol of the NBA's remarkable evolution. It is designed to stand as a centerpiece in any sports memorabilia collection or display. This museum-caliber piece features professional basketball's pioneers, players such as Mikan, Cousy, Arizin, and Schayes, who transformed the fledgling league from what was once considered little more than a traveling tent show, and who laid the foundation for the worldwide stage that is today's NBA. All of the greatest players that followed their path, furthering the league's progress through several generations, are also represented, including Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, "Tiny" Archibald, Shaquille O'Neal, and many more. The lithograph is in apparent Mint condition, with all of the pencil signatures grading "10." Handsomely matted and framed to total dimensions of 51.5 x 38 inches. Together with the original NBA Certificate of Authenticity signed by NBA Commissioner Daniel Stern. This is an extraordinary example of what is easily the most significant lithograph series ever created in any sport and an enduring tribute to basketball history that will never be duplicated. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $20,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $44,438

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