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‘Founding Rules of Basketball’ set to be auctioned off at Sotheby’s

by Derrick Johnson on December 10, 2010

The original rules of basketball are set to be auctioned off on Friday and experts believe the two pages of typed notes could fetch upwards of $2 million, CNN reports. The rules are being offered at Sotheby's in New York City alongside a number of other famous documents including one of the copies of Emancipation Proclamation.

The document, titled "Founding Rules of Basketball," was written by basketball's founder Dr. James Naismith in 1891, when he created the game as a way for his physical education students to play sports indoors during the winter. The two pages contain 13 rules. His family had held onto the document since his death in 1939, but they are being put up by his youngest grandson, Ian.

The proceeds from the auction are expected to go to the Naismith International Basketball Foundation, an organization that promotes sportsmanship and offers a number of services to underprivileged children across the globe.

The auction marks a significant change in policy for Ian, who has been carrying around the rules in a gold briefcase for much of the last two decades after he reclaimed it from its spot in the Hall of Fame due to a disagreement over how the document was being displayed. He has since taken it on the road and displayed it at various venues across the country.

"It's the biggest document in the history of sports," Naismith told The Republican in October. "I've heard it's worth $5 million. I've heard $10 million, but I don't know. We'll see what happens.''

To those in the basketball world, the document means a lot. Charlotte Bobcats head coach Larry Brown told CNN that "it's a game that's been awfully good to me and a lot of other people. So the rules are special."

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