Original rules of basketball sells for record price at auction

(This story originally appeared on www.ljworld.com)

New York City — A historic document that details the original rules of basketball, written 119 years ago as a winter sport for boys of a Massachusetts YMCA, was sold for more than $4 million on Dec. 10 to raise money for charity.

David G. Booth, a 1964 Lawrence High School graduate, is chairman and chief executive officer of Dimensional Fund Advisors.

David Booth moved with his family to Lawrence in 1959.

The family lived at 1931 Naismith Drive, just south of Allen Fieldhouse.

In 1968, David, a Lawrence High School graduate, earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Kansas University. He also earned a master’s degree in business at KU before heading to the University of Chicago.

The Booth Family Hall of Athletics at Allen Fieldhouse was financed in large part by David Booth and other members of the Booth family — in honor of Gilbert and Betty Booth, longtime Jayhawk fans and Lawrence residents.
A photo of the original basketball rules, written by James Naismith, and sold at auction Dec. 10, 2011. The rules sold for $4.34 million.

Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s

A photo of the original basketball rules, written by James Naismith, and sold at auction Dec. 10, 2011. The rules sold for $4.34 million.

It was purchased by David and Suzanne Booth, who hope to bring the rules to Kansas University. He is an alumnus.

James Naismith wrote the 13 rules while a physical education instructor at the Christian association.

“Basketball is a pure invention,” said Selby Kiffer, senior specialist in American history documents at Sotheby’s, where the rules were being sold by the Naismith International Basketball Foundation.

“It’s really the genesis, the birth certificate of one of the world’s most popular sports,” he said in October when the sale was announced. “It’s a sport that has had an impact on everything from fashion, such as sneakers, to culture that in a way transcends sports.

The sale price of $4.3 million includes a buyer’s premium. The proceeds will benefit the Naismith foundation, which promotes sportsmanship and provides services to underprivileged children around the world.

Ian Naismith, the foundation’s founder and grandson of James Naismith, told The Associated Press in an interview in October that it was a family decision to put the rules on the auction block and give the money to the Naismith charity.

“It’s what Dr. Naismith wanted,” he said.

James Naismith penned the 13 rules on Dec. 21, 1891, for the YMCA training school in Springfield. His boss had given him two weeks to come up with a new indoor activity for his gym class, and he wrote down the rules on the eve of that deadline.

He gave the list to his secretary, who typed them up on two pages that Naismith pinned on a bulletin board outside the gym.

He moved to Lawrence, Kan., in 1898 and became the first basketball coach at Kansas University. He coached for nine seasons before assuming other academic duties and serving as athletics director.

One of his players was Forrest “Phog” Allen, who went on to become popularly known as the “father of basketball coaches.”

The two are memorialized on the KU campus, where the basketball court at Allen Fieldhouse is named James Naismith Court.

Naismith died in 1939, three years after his new game became an official sport at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.


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