October Legends Closing October 27,2018
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Few players in NBA history have single-handedly turned around struggling franchises. In the case of the Milwaukee Bucks, who were entering their second year of existence in 1969, they won a coin-toss with the Phoenix Suns to draft Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, formerly Lew Alcindor from UCLA. Kareem paid instant dividends by leading Milwaukee to a 56-26 record, which was a remarkable improvement from the 27-55 record in their inaugural season. By 1972, Kareem had already delivered a title to Milwaukee, was League MVP in 1971 and was coming off back-to-back scoring titles. The 1971-72 season saw Kareem lead the league in scoring with 34.8 points per average and his 1972-73 season saw him average 30.2 points per game, the third straight season in which he surpassed the 30-points-per game mark.

This offered Milwaukee Bucks home jersey was worn by Kareem during the 1971-72 and 1972-73 seasons. This is an extremely rare early-NBA game worn jersey from the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. Originally, this Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Milwaukee Bucks home jersey was offered as a 1972-73 season game used jersey. However, after further examination, we found remnants of “JABBAR” underneath “ABDUL-JABBAR” on the back of the jersey, which further dates this jersey to the 1971-72 season in addition to the 1972-73 season.

We sent this to the experts at Mears, who, based on photographic evidence, have agreed that this jersey was used for two seasons, both during the regular season and playoffs and have stated that “a better example from this stage of Jabbar’s career has not entered the hobby.” This Sand-Knit material jersey features “BUCKS” and “33” sewn on the front in red and green tackle twill. Showing extensive wear with fraying and loose stitching, these numbers appear to be all original. The back of the jersey has “ABDUL-JABBAR” and “33” sewn on in red and green tackle twill, with some fraying and loose stitching as well. The open neck and arms are bordered in a green/red/green pattern made of a ribbed material. The jersey displays moderate to heavy game use.

This is the very game used jersey presented to Kareem when the Milwaukee Bucks retired his number "33" during a ceremony at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee on April 24th, 1993. The Bucks held on to this game jersey until they presented this to Kareem in 1993. This jersey derives directly from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and a personally hand-signed LOA from Kareem will accompany this item. This jersey has also been photo matched by Sports Investors Inc to 1973 and to the 1993 retirement ceremony. Additionally, there is a LOA from Mears, who have graded this jersey a near-perfect A9, only taking off a point for the ripped Rawlings tag and the fraying of the numbers on the front of the jersey.

Mears’ entire analysis reads: “For the 1971-1972, the shirt compares favorably with respect to style and front imagery analysis to what would have been worn during the regular season and playoffs. MEARS was able to compare the front of the shirt to period images and they compare favorably to available images. Examination of the actual shirt shows that the name "JABBAR" was originally sewn to the reverse. This was done per league rules which forbade the use of "Abdul-Jabbar". 

The shirt now bears the name, "Abdul-Jabbar". Examination on the light table reveals the original "JABBAR" lettering, indicating this shirt was re-lettered by the team. Review of period images reveal the shirt compares favorably with images from the 1972-1973 regular season and playoffs. For the 1972-1973 season, the name on reverse, "Abdul Jabbar" compares favorably with respect to the positioning of top of the name to the bottom of the neckline, length of the name and how it stretches to the end of the shirt, and the position of the bottom of the name in conjunction to the top of the number 33. All compare favorably to the 1972-1973 season and playoffs. 

It is also reasonable to conclude the shirt was worn during the two full seasons and playoffs due to: Heavy wear consistent with multiple seasons, the number change which shows the shirt was issued and worn one season and re-lettered to be issued for a subsequent season, and after 30 years of handling Milwaukee Bucks shirts, this is the first white shirt dating to the 1971-1973 seasons examined or referenced by MEARS. An explanation as to why the shirt did not enter the hobby is because it was kept in the possession of Jabbar. A letter of provenance from Jabbar supports this fact. 

Final Grade: (MEARS A9): Although a better example from this stage of Jabbar's career has not entered the hobby, one-point technical point was subtracted due to some fraying of the front and reverse numbering, and a portion of the Rawlings tag has been cut from the interior of the shirt.” 

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