Wilt Chamberlain's 1972 NBA Finals jersey from the Los Angeles Lakers' first ever championship in Los Angeles sold this week for $4.9 million at Sotheby's New York. It's officially the third-most valuable NBA jersey ever sold publicly.
This iconic No. 13 gold jersey was the first Chamberlain championship jersey to ever appear at auction. Only Michael Jordan's 1998 NBA Finals jersey ($10.1 million) and Kobe Bryant's 2007 MVP season jersey ($5.8 million) have sold for more.
It also surpassed the previous record for a game-worn vintage (pre-1980) NBA item. The previous record was Chamberlain's jersey from his rookie season with the Philadelphia Warriors, which sold for $1.79 million in June 2023.
"This jersey holds an extraordinarily significant place in the history of Los Angeles, not only adorned by the man many consider to be the greatest player ever to step on the court, but as a relic from one of the greatest franchises in sports history," Sotheby's head of streetwear and modern collectibles Brahms Watcher said in a statement.
The 1971-72 season was one for the history books. The Lakers won 33 consecutive games, which is still the longest streak in NBA history. Chamberlain was a big reason for their success.
He wore the jersey on May 7, 1972 during Game 5 of the 1972 NBA finals, when he registered a double-double with 24 points and 29 rebounds. The numbers were impressive, but even more so was the fact that Chamberlain played through a broken hand he suffered in the previous game.
Although the Lakers organization had already won five titles in Minnesota, the 1972 championship was the first won for the city of Los Angeles.
Chamberlain flirted with a quadruple-double during Game 5 of the series against the Knicks with 24 points, 29 rebounds, eight blocks and eight assists over 47 minutes on the court. The Lakers won that game-clinching contest, 114-100, and lifted the trophy in front of their home crowd. Unsurprisingly, Chamberlain was named the Finals MVP.
"The Big Dipper" was an NBA center for 14 seasons and is often referred to as one of the greatest players in history. He retired as a 13-time NBA All-Star, a four-time MVP and two-time NBA champion. Chamberlain registered a total of 31,419 total points, which at the time was a league record. He also grabbed 23,924 career rebounds, a record that stands to this day.