Bidding Basketball: Kevin Johnson Figure & Brad Daugherty Pumps

12.03.10 7 years ago 3 Comments

The NBA and adidas may have an exclusive merchandising deal, but the $400 million-plus agreement is definitely not respected on eBay. Even if the Association expands into Europe, Stern won’t be able to stop the movement of Bill Laimbeer video games, old Jordans and bootleg laundry bags from one fan to another. Then again, why would he? eBay’s stockroom beats any store’s, and a fan wearing a jersey is still a fan wearing a jersey. Stay tuned for a look at cheaper, misspelled NBA-related gems, as well as the expensive, hurt-your-feelings stuff.

(Note: I do not own any of these particular items.)

Brad Daugherty

Dead Auction: Signed BRAD DAUGHERTY Game Used Shoe Reebok THE PUMP

There’s a lot going on in this auction, but there’s always been a lot going on with Brad Daugherty. He entered UNC at 16, left in 1986 as the No. 1 overall pick and anchored a young Cavs squad that reached the playoffs six out of eight seasons. It was a fine, if short, career: He averaged a double-double for half his seasons, boasted gaudy true shooting numbers, but retired at 28 with a bad back.

Now the world’s tallest NASCAR commentator (ESPN), team owner (JTG Daugherty) and afficonado (his jersey, 43, is Richard Petty‘s number) could not have done better for himself in an odder way. Appropriately enough, he autographed a pair of Reebok Pumps – the old ones, before the Blacktop – which have gone on eBay and fetched $36. Who might have bought these? Barring roots in Cleveland or North Carolina, there really is no good reason for a bidder to plunk down anything on this hideous pair of sneakers. These shoes are beat, with Pump technology outside the shoe — like the Air Pressure — and, lest we doubt it, are bigger than a pair of Vans. Like last week’s Purvis Short Nike Air Skyforces, the shoe in question is hideous and caught between two eras. A lumpy sole, not much color, it’s one of Daugherty’s uglier game-worns, stuck between Flight vs. Force and the Penny era. Still, Daugherty, more Kyle Busch than Kyle Lowry, is a man of the people, so much that one of his fans dropped $50 after shipping for a pair of his beaters. Talk about your second act.

Kevin Johnson

Live Auction: 1992 STARTING LINEUP KEVIN JOHNSON FIGURE- NIB

For the lucky athletes like Daugherty, the spotlight doesn’t always dim. Jack Kemp, Jim Bunning, Jim Brown, Carl Weathers, Kevin Johnson: All have done at least as well off the field as on. Johnson’s case might be the most interesting. While never a lockdown defender, he was a stud at the point, putting up a number of good seasons, the best of which might have been 1989, when he averaged 20 and 12, won Most Improved Player, and led the league in turnovers. Forty and retired, he became the first African-American mayor of Sacramento, beating incumbent Heather Fargo in a run-off.

It was a hard-fought, and in many ways, discouraging race: Harrassment allegations marred his candidacy, and only 25 percent of registered voters cast ballots that election. Still, that cannot compare to the ignominy the elected official must feel seeing his Starting Lineup figure collect dust with a $5.94 Buy It Now. A second-hand market is still a second-hand market, and athletes and politicians feel different kinds of love, but this guy is running a city. He dunked on Hakeem. He’s a role model. He mentored Jason Kidd. One would think this heady legacy would be reflected in the bid price.

However, Johnson’s figure is cheap precisely because he is a somebody. Unlike with baseball cards or late 90s Nikes, the Starting Lineups figures that earn the best return belong to the worst players. Collectors, inspired to complete their New In Box toy squads, pay out near $1,000 for NIB Bill Fralic or Mark Malone figures. Fralic was no slouch, reaching a few Pro Bowls in the NFL and running a successful insurance firm, but he’s no Kevin Johnson. Fralic did not establish a lineage at his position like Johnson did; he didn’t run a city either. Indeed, irony might explain a hideous NASCAR-themed Reebok pumps selling for five times the price of officially-licensed memorabilia of an All-Star mayor. But it might just be that one second act is more impressive than the other.

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