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.
UCLA Basketball Court Center Circle
Under legendary head coach John Wooden, University of California, Los Angeles captured 10 NCAA championships in 12 years. The team won most of their games during that heady era at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion. When the arena's original center-court jump circle was replaced in 1982, the hardwood was signed by former stars, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton. At a recent auction, the one-of-a-kind piece sold for a stunning $325,085 – much to the chagrin of UCLA's Athletic Director, who wanted it brought back to the university.
"It's something that's certainly not for everybody, given the logistical constraints of owning such a piece," Imler says. "We've sold baseball cards for hundreds of thousands of dollars that you can put in your back pocket, but sometimes it's huge center-court sections of basketball courts."