Wilt Chamberlain rookie home jersey sells at auction for $1.79 million

In his rookie NBA season, Wilt Chamberlain didn’t just smash the league’s then-regular-season points record of Bob Pettit with his total of 2,707… he did so 56 games into his career. Chamberlain finished 1959-60 as the NBA MVP and Rookie of the Year, one of only two players (Wes Unseld is the other) to win both NBA MVP and ROY honors in the same season.

It was arguably the most dominant debut season in American sports history. Late Saturday night, a Chamberlain uniform from that season broke another record: Most expensive game-worn vintage (pre-1980) NBA item ever sold.

The uniform Chamberlain wore at every Philadelphia Warriors home game — as well as some neutral contests and “even five playoff games, according to the included photo-matching analysis” — sold with SCP Auctions for $1.792 million.

Chamberlain, who played with the Harlem Globetrotters for $50,000 in 1958-59 (more than $500,000 in 2023) after leaving the University of Kansas a year early, announced his arrival into the NBA in a way arguably no one has since. Because of the novelty of Chamberlain leaving Kansas early – unheard of in those days – Philadelphia’s Eddie Gottlieb convinced the NBA that Chamberlain, a Philly product, should be a territorial draft choice.

The rest is history; such was Chamberlain’s dominance that his 31,419 career points stood as the NBA record for 38 years before Kareem Abdul-Jabbar broke it in 1984 — which took another 19 years to be broken by LeBron James, with 38,652 and counting.

The Chamberlain uniform was photo-matched and authenticated by the MeiGray Group, Resoluation Photomatching (ResMatch) and Sports Investors Authentication (SIA); an additional letter from Mears Authentication grades the Chamberlain uniform a perfect A10. Multiple authenticators verified that stains on the jersey are, in fact, Chamberlain’s playing-days blood.

Per SCP Auctions, “the matching jersey and shorts set was originally procured director from Wilt Chamberlain decades ago by his close friend who would become a trusted collector in the hobby.” The man isn’t identified, but “a letter of provenance from this gentleman” was included in the auction lot.

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