If you have a passion for college basketball, a bare wall in your living room and a spare $100,000 to burn, there's a historic piece of memorabilia for sale this week that may be of interest.
Why not put in a bid on the original center circle from UCLA's Pauley Pavilion?
The 12-foot-diameter powder-blue-and-gold relic, which served as center court during the height of the John Wooden dynasty, had been in storage for years until the undisclosed UCLA alum who owned it decided to put it on the auction block this month. According to Dan Imler of SCP Auctions, the price of the circle reached $94,948 as of Tuesday afternoon with bidding set to close at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
"Usually things like this really start to heat up in the final days, particularly the last day of the auction," Imler said. "Interest has been strong so far, but we certainly think it has a long ways to go."
That the center circle is up for auction at all is a source of frustration for UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero, who believes it should be prominently displayed at soon-to-be renovated Pauley Pavilion when the building opens again in 2012. Guerrero released a statement last month indicating he was "extremely disappointed" that UCLA's attempts to reacquire the center circle were unsuccessful.
"We even had a donor ready to make a donation to the owner's charity of choice," Guerrero said. "The center circle belongs on display at new Pauley Pavilion and we are hopeful that we will be able to work out an arrangement with the new owner to bring this important piece of UCLA basketball history back to its home."
In addition to the center circle being in use during UCLA's record 88-game win streak from 1971 to '74, what makes the piece particularly special are the autographs it features. Many UCLA greats who played on that court signed the center circle, from Bill Walton, to Walt Hazzard, to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Imler would not disclose the identity of the seller, but a 1998 UCLA faculty newsletter reveals that a former Bruin student and employee found the center circle collecting dust in a warehouse on campus. Jody Spillane, the former wife of UCLA All-American Jim Spillane, bought the historic hardwood for what the story deemed "a nominal amount."
According to Imler, a large portion of the proceeds from the current sale will be dedicated to funding medical research. Then whoever the winning bidder is will have to decide where to display the center circle, whether that's at the new Pauley Pavilion or in his living room.