Friday, February 01, 2008

'Basketball Man' rules on sale for $10 million

The Original 13 Rules of Basketball, drafted by the game’s inventor Dr. James Naismith in 1891 and reintroduced to the world in last year’s nonfiction feature film, Basketball Man (see "What ever happened to Basketball Man?"), are being put up for sale by the Naismith family.

The family-- and their charitable Naismith International Basketball Foundation-- are looking for $10 million, or less under the right circumstances (a bargain compared to the $20 million sought a few years back), according to Naismith’s grandson Ian, whose one-man mission to use the rules to spread sportsmanship throughout the world was at the center of the Basketball Man movie.

The Naismith biopic, produced by our pals at Frozen Pictures, contrasts Doc Naismith’s life with his grandson’s lonely mission, traveling the country in a rickety RV, carrying the very valuable rules in a golden attaché case. Its release on DVD last Spring followed great acclaim in magazines from Parade to FHM.

Basketball Man also traces the history of the Original 13 Rules, which, after Naismith's death in 1939, ended up in the possession of his youngest son-- Ian's father—who kept them in a “secret drawer” in the dining room. In the late 1950s, the rules were placed in a safe deposit box until they were loaned to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., where they were kept in a vault until about a decade ago, when Ian Naismith took back the papers, and began his “Naismith Sportsmanship Tour,” displaying them at events in college and NBA cities.

“I like to think that he would approve of the money from his rules going to a foundation that helps children,” Ian Naismith said. “It's not my money. It's his money because it's his creation.”

Ian says he hopes a corporation comes forward with a deal, which would include sponsorship of a two-year nationwide tour to display the rules in a 40-foot motor coach. Ian hopes to collect signatures of basketball dignitaries and fans along the way. His ultimate goal is to give the Rules, which experts compare to the US Constitution, a permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

“It's not an easy decision, but it's time. They've been pretty much unseen for 110 years. There's no reason for them to be in a vault or anything like that for another 110 years.”

Basketball Man, available as a deluxe 2-DVD package, features appearances by some of the greatest names in the history of the sport including Michael Jordan, Steve Nash, Carmelo Anthony, Oscar Robertson, Bob Cousy, John Wooden, Rick Barry, NBA commissioner David Stern, and the late Red Auerbach.

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