Ball Don't Lie

Red Auerbach memorabilia nets more than $785,000 at auction

Dan Devine
Ball Don't Lie

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A few weeks back, we told you about an online auction that would give fans and collectors the chance to bid on a slew of items that once belonged to Arnold "Red" Auerbach, the legendary Hall of Fame basketball coach and executive who served as the architect of a Boston Celtics dynasty that captured 16 NBA championships in 30 seasons. Auctioneer SCP Auctions told the Boston Herald at the time that the "three-part online sale" was expected "to raise at least $500,000 for Auerbach's family."

The auction's opening round closed on May 1 after two weeks of bids, and I think it's fair to say that it exceeded SCP's expectations: Winning bids for the 156 items purchased totaled $785,278, according to final price figures listed on SCP's website.

As you might expect, the most highly prized items in the auction were five of Auerbach's rings — four commemorating Boston Celtics championships from 1957, 1962, 1974 and 1981, and one honoring his 1968 induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The ring from 1981, Larry Bird's first title year, commanded the highest price, going for $82,726.80. The model from 1961, the fourth consecutive Boston championship in a run of eight straight and 11 in 13 years, elicited the highest number of bids (22). Combined, the full hand of jewelry fetched a whopping $405,727.

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You can check out all of the memorabilia at the SCP website, but here are a few other items of note from the auction, along with the winning bids:

• A jersey worn by Celtics great Bob Cousy during his 1950 rookie season: $41,435.

• A full set of Red's golf clubs, held in a jaunty 1961 NBA All-Star Game golf bag: $36,404.

• The trophy presented to Auerbach on Feb. 13, 1966, at the Boston Garden after winning his 1,000th game: $27,584.

• The white satin Celtics warm-up jacket that Red wore in 1957: $20,035.

• A presentational humidor, given to the famous cigar-chomper by his 1954-55 Celtics squad, all of whose signatures are engraved on a silver placard on the box: $18,840.

• Auerbach's first coaching contract with the Celtics, signed and executed by Red and Celtics owner Walter Brown in 1950: $14,678.

• A phenomenal eight-inch desktop sign given to Auerbach by Bill Russell in 1972 that reads, "EXPERIENCE DON'T MEAN [EXPLETIVE]": $480.

Only two pieces in the 158-item lot got no love from bidders — an award from the National Academy of Sport recognizing Auerbach for the Celtics' 1964-65 title win and a 2003 lifetime achievement award and medal from the Sports Museum.

I think we're all kicking ourselves for not dropping five bills to take that Russell desk-topper home with us. But I don't feel too bad about not throwing my hat into the ring on that amazing papier-mache leprechaun statue that I previously described as looking "sort of like Jack Skellington playing pickup after taking a trip to Saintpatricksdaytown." Turns out someone was willing to pay $10,278 for it. I was not.

The next two rounds of bidding will come in July and in the fall, according to SCP, so keep an eye out, kiddies. There's more phenomenal swag coming down the pike.

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