Five championships and 1,202 wins—so far. Mike Krzyzewski is leaving behind an impressive coaching legacy after 42 years at Duke. He’s also potentially leaving behind valuable memorabilia as his final games play out.
If Duke manages to advance past archrival North Carolina in Saturday’s semifinal and knock off Kansas or Villanova in Monday’s title game, it would not only be a storybook ending for the winningest coach in college basketball history, it would impart tremendous value on items connected to the game—if they go to market.
The game-used basketball for the final could be worth as much as $500,000, according to sports memorabilia expert Ken Goldin. The founder of Goldin Auction believes the ball would draw parallels to the one used in the 1982 national championship, which featured Michael Jordan’s introduction to the world when he sank a game-winner that allowed North Carolina to edge Georgetown. That game, played 40 years ago this week, also took place in New Orleans at the Superdome (now rebranded as the Caesars Superdome).
“It’s the best NCAA basketball opportunity in certainly recent history,” Goldin said of the ball, which goes to the title-winning team.
If the ball were to become available via auction, experts believe it would draw a competitive bidding war among not only typical memorabilia junkies but also members of Duke’s prominent alumni base. That distinguished group includes Apple CEO Tim Cook, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein and Atlanta Hawks vice chair Grant Hill.
“Lots of rich people went to Duke,” Goldin added.
While Krzyzewski is one of the most accomplished figures in sports, historically there hasn’t been a strong demand for coach memorabilia. Sports memorabilia appraiser Jim Pavlish believes the ball would undoubtedly be worth six figures, especially if it was signed, but stopped short of projecting a half-million-dollar value. He reiterated the lingering question: Would the ball even be available?
“I would imagine the game ball would go to [Krzyzewski],” Pavlish said.
The winning team also has the option to purchase the custom Final Four stadium court. The school could easily flip the court if it decided to take it to market instead of cutting into pieces and keeping it on display on campus as other championship teams have done previously. But it’s more likely Duke would donate the court, which is what it did after the winning the 2001 tournament at the Metrodome in Minneapolis and gave the court to the Emily K Center, a nonprofit in Durham founded by Krzyzewski.
Duke and multichain platform OneOf earlier this year unveiled a collection of NFTs to commemorate Krzyzewski’s final home game. The main NFTs of the collection sold out within a couple of hours last month, and a portion of the proceeds from the partnership are expected to support the Emily K Center.
While colored pieces of the floor at Cameron Indoor Stadium are far more valuable, Goldin believes the championship stadium court in New Orleans could be worth at least $300,000 if Duke wins. A piece of the Staples Center floor for Kobe Bryant’s last game sold for $631,200 at Heritage Auctions in 2020.
Duke is poised to win its sixth title and put a memorable cap on Krzysewski’s career. The storybook finish is within reach entering the weekend, but there’s still no guarantee sports memorabilia collectors will get their hands on the championship items.
But the school can, and it will certainly have interested buyers if the opportunity arises.
Sportico will be publishing short business highlights throughout the three-week NCAA tournament.
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