For the past five decades, some of Jerry Lucas’ most prized possessions from the 1960 Rome Olympics, Ohio State University and his NBA career have been stuffed in cardboard boxes and stored in his closest.
Now they’re going to the highest bidder.
Lucas, 73, a 1957 Middletown High School graduate who led the Middies to 76 consecutive victories and back-to-back state championships, was the youngest member of the U.S. basketball team that won the gold medal at the 1960 Olympics.
Lucas said for years the items were stored in his home. Because he couldn’t divide the items fairly among his family, he said selling them through Grey Flannel Auctions was “the right thing to do at this time.”
He called the items “really good stuff.”
Several of the pieces of memorabilia were displayed at last week’s National Sports Collectors Show in Chicago. Lucas posed with some of the items and also was an autograph guest at the show that included some of the biggest names in sports.
Lucas said the “best item” up for auction is the Olympic gold medal. When asked the last time he placed the gold medal around his neck, Lucas said with a laugh: “1960.”
He never displayed the items in his home.
“Things don’t mean a lot to me,” he said. “They never have. I have real great memories associated with them, but they’re hard to see when they’re in a closet.”
They are expected to attract “major attention” from those in the sports memorabilia business, said Michael Russek, director of operations at Grey Flannel, which was contacted by Lucas to auction off his memorabilia.
He called the 17 items that span Lucas’ career at Ohio State through the NBA “one of the most complete during the prime era of basketball.”
Then he added: “It’s incredible stuff. It pulls you right through his career.”
Russek said every item will have a minimum bid, and if they only brought their reserve, they would sell for $531,500.
The most expensive item probably will be the gold medal, which has a reserve of $250,000, Russek said. He refused to guess what it may sell for, saying “the market will dictate the price.”
He said the medal will be the first one ever sold at auction, and because Lucas is a Hall of Famer, makes it only more valuable.