Typical fans show their devotion by wearing their favorite team's hat or a replica of their favorite player's jersey, but hard-core collectors aren't content until they've purchased original, decades-old uniforms and caps worn by the likes of Babe Ruth. Some take it even further, buying pieces of basketball courts and gloves worn by famous boxers during their most notable bouts. These trophies are not just status symbols (though they definitely are status symbols); they're proof of how much sports mean to men.
No one knows that better than David Kohler and Dan Imler, president and vice president of SCP Auctions in Laguna Niguel, California. Since Kohler founded it in 1979, SCP has become the foremost auction house for expensive sports memorabilia. We spoke to these accomplished auctioneers about the most valuable pieces they've ever sold and the blockbusters they never got their hands on.
Julius Erving's ABA Championship Ring
The original American Basketball Association may have disappeared, but ABA fans haven't. "There's a lot of people that are very – how would I say it – feverish about going after any significant pieces within that league," Kohler says. Julius Erving's 1974 New York Nets ABA Championship ring was perhaps the most significant of the lot. Largely because of Dr. J's enduring appeal, the piece sold for $460,741 in 2011 at an auction of Erving memorabilia that netted roughly $3.5 million. The ring features the ABA's signature red, white, and blue basketball with a diamond in the center, making it one of the few pieces of expensive memorabilia that would be extremely valuable without a backstory.