Kansas alumnus buys Dr. James Naismith’s original basketball rules for $4.5 million

Sat, Dec 11, 2010 at 10:38 am ET

College Basketball, NBA

Frumped by

Photo of the original rules of basketball sold at a Sotheby's New York auction for $4.5 million

Sotheby's photo-handout to prospective buyers

To put that in NBA Jayhawks perspective, that’s only about $8.5 million less than Boston’s Paul Pierce is scheduled to make this year; $4.5 million less than the Wizards’ Kirk Hinrich; and approximately the same as Darrell Arthur and Brandon Rush’s salaries combined.

Alright, fine. That doesn’t really provide any meaningful perspective at all, does it?

How about this: A few days prior to businessman David Booth’s purchase of Naismith’s foundational conception of the sport, a first edition collection of Shakespeare’s plays — published in 1623 — sold for $2.37 million at a Sotheby’s auction in London. Take that, English literature!

The lofty price tag — let alone the poopooing of Bill Shakespeare — obviously did nothing to deter Mr. Booth’s desire to keep the origins of basketball within the Jayhawk family. Naismith became the first basketball coach at the University of Kansas in 1898 and remained at the school in various capacities until 1937 — only two years prior to his death.

The Naismith family had been in possession of the documents until the December 10th auction held at Sotheby’s New York, however the Naismith International Basketball Foundation will receive the bulk of the sales price.

If you’re interested in reading some of rules as written on the original documents, a enlargeable,  full scale version of the above image is available here.

Sources: Fox Sports, and the Ottawa Citizen

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