Just a few months after his rookie uniform sold at auction, another key item from Wilt Chamberlain’s career has sold for a seven-figure price.
Chamberlain’s 1972 NBA Finals championship clinching jersey netted $4.9 million through Sotheby’s Wednesday night. The opening bid was set at a reserve of $4 million.
The jersey represents the first championship for the Lakers in Los Angeles.
Worn in multiple postseason games, the jersey is the highest priced Chamberlain item ever sold at auction and the most ever paid for a game-worn vintage basketball item, surpassing the June sale of Chamberlain’s 1959-60 rookie season home uniform which brought $1.8 million at SCP Auctions.
Nursing a broken hand sustained in the prior game of the 1972 NBA Finals, Chamberlain took to the court at The Forum on May 7, 1972, scoring 24 points and grabbing 29 rebounds – a performance fitting for a goliath like Wilt – and sealed his case for the Finals MVP Award.
It was the end of a remarkable season – considered one of the greatest in NBA history – in which the Los Angeles Lakers had set the record for the most wins in a single season (69), and the most consecutive wins (33), the latter being a record which still stands across all professional US sports.
It’s is the first jersey from his two championships to ever appear at auction. He’s also shown wearing the jersey on multiple iconic covers of Sports Illustrated, including 16 October 1972, with the headline “It All Depends on Wilt” and 15 May 1972 with the headline, “Los Angeles Champions at Last!.”
Marking the first time the jersey has appeared on public view in over 50 years since Chamberlain wore it on the court, the jersey was displayed in Sotheby’s Los Angeles galleries and later at a dedicated exhibition at Sotheby’s New York.
“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,” stated Brahm Wachter of Sotheby’s.
The jersey is accompanied by a letter and photomatch graphics from The MeiGray Group, and Sports Investors Authenticated.