ESPN Dissects Quest to Return Original Rules of Basketball to Kansas

ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 will premiere There’s No Place Like Home tonight  at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPNHD. The film follows one University of Kansas fan on his obsessive quest to win at auction the most important document in sports history—James Naismith’s original rules of basketball—and bring them “home” to Lawrence, Kansas, where Naismith coached and taught for more than 40 years.

When superfan Josh Swade discovers through an article in The New York Times that Naismith’s original rules of basketball will be auctioned off on December 10, 2010, he Original Rules of Basketballset out on a journey to raise more than $1 million in three weeks. With a short timeline and an ambitious objective, Swade teamed up with an influential Kansas alumnus and the grandson of legendary coach Phog Allen in an effort to make his dream a reality.

The two-page document consisting of 13 rules to the new game invented by James Naismith in 1891 sold for $4,338,500 via Sotheby’s, more than double the pre-sale estimate of $2 million.

James Naismith passed the rules down to family members and they have been displayed at various events over the years, including Final Fours and NBA venues.  The family had  resisted numerous offers to sell what are the only surviving set of written, original rules for a major professional sport.

Many of James Naismith’s memorabilia from his coaching and teaching days were sold six years ago.  The auction, conducted by Heritage Galleries,  generated or over $700,000 in the fall of that year.

Watch the preview below.