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1985-1986 Sacramento Kings Team-Signed Game-Used Ball (Inaugural Season) Team Owner Provenance
Starting Bid - $300.00 , Sold For - $705.00
Extremely rare game-used NBA basketball, dating from the Sacramento Kings' inaugural season, signed by sixteen members of the 1985-1986 Sacramento Kings and Larry Bird. Larry Bird is included on this ball because this is the actual game ball used on February 11, 1986, in the Kings' home victory over the Boston Celtics. Unlike baseball and football, where numerous balls are used throughout a game, only one game ball is used in basketball. For that reason, game-used NBA balls are extremely rare. Its scarcity as a game-used ball notwithstanding, the offered ball is also particularly noteworthy due to its provenance. This ball was personally signed for Sacramento Kings team owner Frank McCormack and its history is fully documented in McCormack's book, Never Lose - A Decade of Sports and Politics in Sacramento (1989, First Ink Publishing House, Rancho Cordova, California). Featured in the book (a copy of which is included with the ball) is a photo of the offered ball as well as McCormack's firsthand account of its origin:
There were a lot of highlights that first season. The best was our win over the Celtics. We beat the future world champs for 1985-86 by a score of 105-100. We also broke their 13-game winning streak. Larry Bird, a great free throw shooter - the best in the NBA that year - missed two foul shots with 31 seconds left in the game to seal the win for us. The rousing standing ovation he got from the crowd during the foul shots must have been too much of a distraction for Bird...I got Dave Whittington, equipment manager, to grab the game ball and I had all the Kings players sign it. Even Larry Bird, gracious in defeat, autographed the ball. We had all the Kings signatures but Joe Kleine, whose name was somehow missing. I ran into Joe and few weeks later at a charity fund-raiser and he and his wife, Dana, came over to my house afterward so Joe could sign the ball. It was complete. All the Kings' men had their John Henry's on the historic ball .
As noted by McCormack, the ball features the signatures of all twelve Kings players on the roster that day: Eddie Johnson, Reggie Theus, Mike Woodson, Lasalle Thompson, Larry Drew, Otis Thorpe, Terry Tyler, Mark Olberding, Joe Kleine, Carl Henry, Mike Bratz, and Rich Kelly. The ball has also been signed by head coach Phil Johnson, Larry Bird, Frank Hamblen (asst. coach), Dave Whittington (equip. mgr.) and one other (illegible). All of the signatures have been scripted in black marker and range in grade from "6" to "9," averaging "7/8." The Spalding Official NBA Game Ball displays heavy use and a very slight loss of air and is in Very Good condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $300. Estimate $500/$1,000. SOLD FOR $705.00
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