No rookie in sports history had a better debut season than the 7-foot-1 inch center playing for his hometown NBA team 63 years ago. Much like George Mikan a decade earlier, Wilt Chamberlain became a game changing gate attraction. Now, the only known surviving uniform he wore while playing for the Philadelphia Warriors in 1959-60 is about to go on the auction block.
SCP Auctions will offer Chamberlain’s number 13 jersey and matching shorts in a single-lot auction that will open June 5 and run through June 17.
The uniform was worn by Chamberlain during the regular season and five home playoff games that season according to photos that match the jersey and shorts.
The uniform was originally acquired directly from Chamberlain in the mid-1970s and has changed hands on a few occasions since then. It was on display at the National Sports Collectors Convention in 2015 and was most recently part of the fractional shares platform Collectable. Shareholders there turned down a $3 million offer last year. After the auction, proceeds will be divvied up those who owned stakes in the uniform.
“This really is the holy grail of vintage basketball uniforms,” David Kohler President of SCP Auctions stated “We know the pedigree. We know the provenance.”The jersey has been photomatched and authenticated by MeiGray and carries an A9 reating from MEARS. Among the matching photographs is a timely color image snapped by Neil Leifer on January 5, 1960, at Madison Square Garden showing young Wilt exiting the court after scoring 52 points in a victory over the Minneapolis Lakers in a neutral site game that was common for the NBA at the time.
After spending a season with the Harlem Globetrotters following his junior year at Kansas, Chamberlain began his NBA career with a bang first of four NBA MVP awards as a rookiebegan his NBA career with a bang first of four NBA MVP awards as a rookie. He averaged an unprecedented 37.6 points and 27 rebounds per game, setting a total of eight NBA rookie records along the way: Last year the NBA named the Rookie of the Year award the Wilt Chamberlain Trophy, in honor of the historic start to his career.
Game worn jerseys from other NBA legends have fetched eye-popping numbers over the past 12 months. A jersey worn by Michael Jordan in Game 1 of the 1998 NBA Finals sold for a record $10.1 million in September 2022. In February, a jersey from Kobe Bryant’s lone MVP season in 2007-08 brought over $5.8 million at auction. A Jordan 1992 Olympic Dream Team jersey went for over $3 million last week.