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Joe Lapchick 100-Year-Old 'Original Celtics' Jersey Sells for $151K at Auction

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2019

NEW YORK, NY - 1930: Joe Lapchick of the Original Celtics poses for a portrait circa 1930 in New York City, NY. 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 1930 NBAE (Photo by NBA Photos/NBAE via Getty Images)
NBA Photos/Getty Images

A game-worn jersey from Hall of Fame center Joe Lapchick while he was a member of the Original Celtics in the 1920s sold for $151,652 during SCP Auctions' fall premier event Saturday night.

The Original Celtics, which hold no connection to the Boston Celtics, were based in New York and competed in the Eastern Basketball League, Metropolitan Basketball League and American Basketball League during their decadelong existence. They are often credited for helping revolutionize the sport.

Lapchick played for the squad from 1923 through 1928 and won four straight ABL championships with the Celtics (1927-28) and Cleveland Rosenblums (1929-30).

"The game's first true agile big man, the muscular and tall 6'5" Joe Lapchick was a great passer, possessed a fine shot, and controlled nearly every center tap that followed each made basket," his Hall of Fame entry reads.

SCP Auctions @SCPAuctions

Just received a grade of MEARS A9 for Lot #5: C. 1923-25 Joe Lapchick New York “Original Celtics” Game Worn Jersey. Current Bid: $36,603. This is the finest pre-war basketball jersey in existence and possibly the rarest basketball jersey example today. Bidding open until Dec. 14! https://t.co/25n9FgHqHu

The jersey auctioned Saturday features the Celtics' shamrock logo on front with the No. 4 interwoven between the words New York on the back.

"Considering the virtual extinction of any early-1900s game-used basketball memorabilia, and the folklore reputation of this seemingly mythological team, we can legitimately call this the finest known pre-war basketball jersey," the listing stated.

After his playing days, Lapchick went on to become a head coach with two stints at St. John's sandwiched around nine years with the New York Knicks.

He posted a 334-130 record with four NIT championships across 20 seasons at St. John's. He went 326-247 with eight playoff appearances while leading the Knicks.

The listing noted Lapchick gifted the jersey to playwright Harry Glynn ahead of the coach's 1970 death, and it was passed down to Glynn's son before being placed on the auction block.