The 2012-13 NBA regular season is right around the corner. For fans, this means it’s time to re-up on your team’s merchandise. Anyone can go to the nearest sporting goods store and pick up a brand new jersey or hat, but what about the unique collectibles that separate the dyed-in-the-wool fan from the bandwagon supporter? These can be found on eBay. In the weeks leading up to NBA tip-off, Bidding Basketball will scavenge the online auction site’s “infinite inventory of NBA junk” for rare, memorable and/or quirky basketball memorabilia from all 30 teams.
Today, we explore the Southeast Division.
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Live Auction: Atlanta Hawks Pin ~ Wings ~ NBA ~ Atlanta’s Air Force
Buy It Now: $6.00, plus shipping
“Head in the clouds, high in the sky, who ever said that men were not supposed to fly? Off and running, we came to play, we are the highest fliers in the NBA.” So begins Tom Grose and the Varsity‘s 1986 record entitled, “Nothing Can Stop Us, We’re Atlanta’s Air Force.” The song and subsequent music video (which I highly recommend re-watching if only for Doc Rivers‘ incredible dance moves) served ostensibly as promotional vehicles for the Hawks in the mid-1980s. The most prominent high-flyer on the Hawks was “The Human Highlight Film,” Dominique Wilkins, who averaged 29.3 points per game from 1985-1988 (tops in the league in 1985-86), and won two Slam Dunk Contests in 1985 and 1990 (and runner-up in 1986 and 1988). Teammate Spud Webb – at all of 5-7 – also won the dunk competition in 1986. “Atlanta’s Air Force” was not only an exciting team to watch, they were a legitimate title contender, too. The Hawks reached the Eastern Conference Semifinals for three consecutive seasons under head coach Mike Fratello, and in the year “Nothing Can Stop Us” was released, they finished first in the Central Division in the regular season. The pin listed above celebrates those Atlanta Air Force teams – no matter how hilarious/terrible/dated their theme song is today.
Live Auction: NBA Charlotte Bobcats Basketball 2 oz. Shot Glass NEW Dead Stock Pre 2007
Buy It Now: $5.99, plus shipping
Last season, the Charlotte Bobcats earned (although I use that term very lightly) the dubious distinction of being the worst team in NBA history. The Bobcats finished the lockout-shortened season with a record of 7-59, and a winning percentage of just .106. The mark was .4 percentage points worse than the previous worst record held by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers. Things don’t look much better for the ‘Cats in 2012-13, either. Basketball Prospectus projects the team to win just 19 games, and to rank 29th and 27th in offense and defense respectively this season. Another horrendous season might be enough to, as the old adage goes, drive fans in Charlotte to drink. Bottoms up, Bobcats. (In all seriousness, if you do consume alcohol, please be responsible. DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE.)
Dead Auction: Glen Rice Miami Heat “Great Balls of Fire” Costacos Promo Mini Poster
Price: $7.95, plus shipping
While the Miami Heat is presently rich with basketball talent, there was a time when but one NBA superstar resided in South Florida. I’m referring, of course, to Glen Rice. (Apologies, Harold Miner.) The 6-8 swingman was selected No. 4 overall by the Heat in 1989, and three years later, led the franchise to its first-ever playoff appearance while becoming the first Heat player to average greater than 20 points in a season. Rice quickly became known around the league for his dead-eye jumper. He could stroke it. In Miami, he averaged 19.3 points per 36 minutes with a .459 field goal percentage and a .386 three-point percentage, and in 1995, he won the Long Distance Shootout at All-Star Weekend. The sharpshooter also set a Heat single-game record with 56 points in an April 1995 game against the Orlando Magic. Impressively, this milestone has yet to be matched by any other member of the Heat – including LeBron James or Dwyane Wade.
Live Auction: VTG Orlando Magic (I LOVE THIS GAME) NBA SNAP BACK CAP hat
Buy It Now: $50.00, plus shipping
Snapback hats have become fashionable once again. Headwear and apparel companies are busy putting to market facsimiles of the NBA snapbacks made popular two decades ago. The “I Love This Team” design, however, has yet to be replicated. For the uninitiated, the phrase “I Love This Game” was the basis for a long-running NBA ad campaign that coincided with the league’s popularity boom in the 1990s. This hat originates from these promos.
A few things make this hat interesting. First of all, it’s absolutely gorgeous. It also appears to be in remarkable condition for its age. Second, given the popularity of the Orlando Magic at the time (1995), the hat is likely a rare find. I’m frankly surprised that it hasn’t been purchased yet. Although the new old hats are stylish in their own right, like most retro apparel they lack the same sort of appeal possessed by many of the original incarnations. This Orlando Magic snapback hat is a perfect example.
Live Auction: 1978 NBA Champs WASHINGTON BULLETS “… The Fat Lady Sang” 30″ Pennant
Buy It Now: $85.00, plus shipping
If the fat lady sang in 1978, it’s been pretty quiet in Washington since her solo. But, as is becoming a recurring theme in these posts, vintage collectibles tend to conjure nostalgic memories of the “glory years” for fans of struggling NBA franchises. The 1977-78 Bullets featured one of the greatest frontlines in NBA history. They had four-time NBA All-Star Bob Dandridge (acquired midseason), 12-time All-Star Elvin Hayes, and at center, five-time All-Star and 1968 NBA MVP and Rookie of the Year, Wes Unseld. Injuries hampered the Bullets throughout the regular season, but the team managed to slide into third place in the Eastern Conference with a 44-38 record. Washington returned to form in the playoffs, however. They quickly dispatched the Atlanta Hawks in two games, defeated the San Antonio Spurs in the semis, and then beat the Philadelphia 76ers to face the Seattle Supersonics in the NBA Finals. The Sonics-Bullets series was a tightly contested one, going the full seven games. In the seventh and decisive game, Washington prevailed, 105-99, to capture the first (and only) championship in Bullets/Wizards history. Unseld was named Finals MVP. And oh yeah, according to this pennant, a fat lady sang.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever bought on eBay?
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