Heritage Auctions pulled Isiah Thomas’ 1984 NBA All-Star Game MVP trophy from its online catalog Tuesday morning, after the former Detroit Pistons star claimed it had been stolen from his high school alma mater. Where it’s been since the crime is what police will now try to determine.
Heritage says the 17″ x 14″ x 6″ trophy was among the items listed in the company’s Platinum Night Auction.
Bidding had reached $3,900 Monday night when Thomas was apparently alerted to a Heritage tweet promoting the trophy listing. He responded that the trophy still belonged to him but had been “stolen from St. Joseph High School the night Mr. Pingatore my coach died.”
Gene Pingatore was Thomas’ high school coach who passed away on June 26 of last year at age 82.
“That was a painful night for our community,” Thomas later wrote. “A police report was filed.”
Thomas said he loaned the MVP trophy, along with several other items, out of respect and affection for Pingatore. Thomas said the items were loaned to St. Joseph with the understanding that they would one day be returned. However, his Hall of Fame plaque was among the items that were reported stolen from a trophy case in 2016.
Thomas was named MVP of the 1984 All-Star Game in Denver after scoring 21 points, dishing out 15 assists, grabbing four steals and five rebounds in a 154-145 East win.
Heritage says the trophy had been consigned by “a sports memorabilia dealer in the Midwest.” Where that person obtained it isn’t yet known, but Thomas was glad to find out it apparently wasn’t lost forever.
“For me and my family, the silver lining in all of this is that it showed up at your house [Heritage Auctions],” Thomas told auction officials Tuesday. “We never would have known, so we are grateful and I am thankful that the item was found and will be returned.”
Heritage indicated it had held “extensive conversations” Tuesday with Thomas, a Westchester Police Department detective and a St. Joseph official. The auction house says it “will continue working with law enforcement, Thomas, St. Joseph and the consignor to reach a swift resolution to this issue.” For now, though, the trophy will remain in Heritage Auctions’ Dallas offices.
“Heritage Auctions does not sell stolen property, so we take any claims of title seriously,” stated Chris Ivy, Heritage’s Director of Sports Auctions. “Even though each consignor warrants clear title when material is consigned to auction, we do have issues of title or potential stolen property come up a handful of times per year. In those instances, we investigate to validate any claims, and if the title is in question, then the lot is removed from auction until the dispute can be settled.”