Julius Erving Denies that Financial Problems Forced him to Sell MemorabiliaJulius Erving says that he had a "sleepless night" after reading reports that financial difficulties forced him to sell 144 items from his personal memorabilia collection (a stash that includes three professional championship rings plus a 50 Greatest Players ring). A press release about the auction came out almost simultaneously with a report that an Atlanta bank is suing Erving for more than $200,000, so it was only natural to assume that a financial crunch forced Erving's hand regarding items that most people would consider to be priceless treasures.
When I looked through the auction catalog I noticed that Erving's Hall of Fame ring was not listed; it turns out that this is one of the few mementoes Erving decided to keep. One might think that championship rings and a 50 Greatest Players ring would be important to Erving--and also to his children--but Erving claims that he is not a "hoarder or collector" and that his memorabilia has been sitting in storage for decades. Erving explains, "My family is 100 percent behind it (the auction). We decided to do it a long time ago. To claim it's a firesale or to clear up some debt, I don't think so. You don't do an auction overnight. This has been long planned. We had 4,000 catalogs that have been mailed already to people who buy this kind of stuff. With me being involved in the process and the one that's putting it out, it's actually a better situation economically than if my children or grandchildren were to do it. We decided now's the time." Some of the proceeds from the auction will go to the Salvation Army, which has long been one of Erving's favorite charities (his basketball career began when he played for a Salvation Army youth league team).
I suppose that we have to take Erving at his word when he says that he is selling his memorabilia by choice and not necessity but the fact that the auction has been in the works for a while does not prove that there is no connection between it and Erving's financial situation; the bank lawsuit is just the latest in a series of financial problems hitting Erving, including the foreclosure of his Utah home and the loss of $5 million as a result of his investment in a failed golf course.
I hope that it is true that Erving is not broke or desperate but I must admit that I am puzzled by the notion that a great player would voluntarily sell off honors and awards that he worked so hard to obtain.
Labels: Julius Erving
posted by David Friedman @ 12:10 PM