"The NBA 50 Greatest Players" signed lithograph is universally regarded as the premier signed basketball piece ever created. Please NOTE: This is not the run of 50, but is in fact #9 of one of the even more scarce ARTIST PROOFs of only 30, numbered “AP9" on the piece itself.
The production of this piece was one of the most ambitious signing projects in the history of sports. In conjunction with the NBA's 50th Anniversary in 1996, the NBA named its 50 greatest players. Remarkably, 49 of the 50 players selected were alive and present (only Pete Maravich was deceased at the time) when they were honored as part of the All-Star festivities. A magnificent creation was unveiled during that event: a series of limited-edition lithographs (25 x 39 inches unframed). Framed it is 46” x 32”, museum style framing. These were printed on the highest quality acid-free paper with photos of each of the 50 greatest players, were created under the supervision of the National Basketball Association as a special keepsake and tribute to the selection of the sport's greatest stars of all time. Each player neatly signed the litho in pencil beneath their image. The reason pencil was used was because the graphite will never fade or smear. The edition was limited to 250 individually numbered pieces, with the first 50 going directly to the 50 players. Then 100 went to the NBA and 100 went to Field of Dreams, with a donation of a million dollars to the Legends foundation for sports heroes in financial need. All were immediately sold. Today this unique NBA-sponsored project represents the most highly regarded, desirable, and important signed sports art ever conceived and are universally recognized as the ultimate blue-chip sports-related signed art print, and have continued to escalate in value. The 50 Greatest Players is designed to stand as a centerpiece in any sports memorabilia collection or display. Commissioner Stern, in any interview where he is in his office, sits or stands before his own personal one. This museum-caliber piece features professional basketball's pioneers, players such as Mikan, Cousy, Arizin, and Schayes, who transformed the fledgling league from what was once considered little more than a traveling tent show, and who laid the foundation for the worldwide stage that is today's NBA. All of the greatest players here followed their path, furthering the league's progress through several generations. This is an extraordinary example of what is easily the most significant lithograph series ever created in any sport and an enduring tribute to basketball history that will never be duplicated.
The signers are:
David Robinson, Bill Russell, Moses Malone, Willis Reed, Wilt Chamberlain, and Bill Walton * Second to last Row: Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing, Jerry Lucas, Hakeem Olajuwon, Robert Parish, Dave Cowens, Billy Cunningham, Elvin Hayes, Karl Malone, Kevin McHale * Middle Row: George Mikan, Wes Unseld, Julius Erving, Elgin Baylor, George Gervin, Dave DeBusschere, James Worthy, Charles Barkley, Nate Thurmond * Second to the Front Row: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lenny Wilkens, Earl Monroe, John Havlicek, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Dave Bing, Clyde Drexler, Rick Barry * Front Row: Paul Arizin, Bill Sharman, Nate Archibald, Isiah Thomas, Sam Jones, John Stockton, Walt Frazier, Bob Cousy, Hal Greer, Oscar Robertson, Bob Pettit, Dolph Schayes, Pete Maravich (shown but not signed), Shaquille O'Neal, Jerry West.