Why Kareem Abdul-Jabbar just sold a collection featuring 4 Lakers rings for nearly $3 million

By Jack Baer

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar officially has four fewer NBA championship rings in his personal collection. And the decision was his choice.

A 234-item collection of memorabilia from the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, including four of his six rings, went up for auction Sunday and collectively brought in $2,947,872.25, per ESPN.

Very little of that money will end up Abdul-Jabbar’s pocket. Rather, the Los Angeles Lakers Hall of Famer plans to put most of the proceeds into his Skyhook Foundation, a charity devoted to giving kids in underserved communities access to STEM educational opportunities.

The charity’s mission statement: “Give Kids a Shot that Can’t be Blocked.”

Abdul-Jabbar’s reasoning behind his decision, via ESPN:

"When it comes to choosing between storing a championship ring or trophy in a room or providing kids with an opportunity to change their lives, the choice is pretty simple: Sell it all," Abdul-Jabbar wrote last year about why he's auctioning off valuables from his sports history.

"Looking back on what I have done with my life, instead of gazing at the sparkle of jewels or gold plating celebrating something I did a long time ago, I'd rather look into the delighted face of a child holding their first caterpillar and think about what I might be doing for their future. That's a history that has no price."

The biggest sellers of Abdul-Jabbar’s collection were unsurprisingly the championship rings, which reportedly had starting bids ranging between $60,000 and $65,000. The four rings were from 1980 (sold for $245,000), 1985 ($343,700), 1987 ($398,937.50, the highest of the group) and 1988 ($245,000).

The other high seller was reportedly a signed ball from Abdul-Jabbar’s final regular season game in 1989, selling for $270,050. Three of his MVP trophies also sold for six figures.

INGLEWOOD, CA - JANUARY 22: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar #33 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball against the New York Knicks on January 22, 1988 at The Forum in Inglewood, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1988 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Abdul-Jabbar emphasized in his explanation that he’s on “a solid financial path” and was not selling any of these items because he was in financial trouble. The sacrifice certainly seemed to impress the Lakers’ current superstar, LeBron James.

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