Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar knows exactly what everyone is thinking right about now upon learning he is auctioning off his championship rings.
In announcing the news on his website, he wrote:
“‘Oh, how the mighty have fallen,’ the fans will wail with some mixture of sadness and the knowing nod of inevitability. ‘Well, it happens to the best of ’em.’”
Abdul-Jabbar is the best of them and is auctioning off the prized collector’s items to support his charity, the Skyhook Foundation, not to avoid bankruptcy or settle debts.
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The winter auction includes championship rings, game-worn jerseys, award plaques, trophies, playbooks and even watches, bags and player contracts.
Four of six title rings at auction
Abdul-Jabbar, 71, won six titles as a player over his 20-year career. Four of the six championship rings are available at the online auction.
The rings from his first two titles, first with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1971 and then with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1982, are not listed. The Lakers’ title rings from 1980, ’87 and ’88 began with a starting bid of $60,000 and sat at a current bid of $70,000 as of early Tuesday afternoon.
The 1985 ring from his NBA Finals MVP performance reached $85,000 as of the same time.
He’s auctioning off eight of his All-Star rings and 15 trophies ranging from his 1964 Catholic High School Athletic All City title to his NBA MVP trophies and the 1999 Player of the Century honor.
“When it comes to choosing between storing a championship ring or trophy in a room, or providing kids with an opportunity to change their lives, the choice is pretty simple. Sell it all,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote.
There’s also a major throwback: a VHS tape of his 1996 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony. There are even oddities, such as the glass ice bucket the New Jersey Nets presented to the 7-foot-2 superstar for his retirement in 1988.
Skyhook Foundation supports kids
Abdul-Jabbar founded the Skyhook Foundation in the early 2010s as a way to “give kids a shot that can’t be blocked.” It provides STEM opportunities to students in underserved communities and gives fourth- and fifth-graders the chance for an “immersive, hands-on” learning experience in the outdoors.
“Looking back on what I have done with my life,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote, “instead of gazing at the sparkle of jewels or gold plating celebrating something I did a long time ago, I’d rather look into the delighted face of a child holding their first caterpillar and think about what I might be doing for their future. That’s a history that has no price.”
The foundation, through Abdul-Jabbar, has served more than 4,000 children so far, according to the foundation’s website. NPR reported in July 2017 that there’s a five-year waiting list in Los Angeles schools for children to attend the outdoor experience called “Camp Skyhook” in the Angeles National Forest.
Only a couple of days into the auction, which closes March 2, it’s clear the money he brings in will serve hundreds more and give them a good shot at a better future. And even the appreciation to pass the giving on.
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