Oscar Robertson’s 1979-80 Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Ring – Letter of Provenance from the Big O
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The Big O’s list of career accomplishments is never-ending. To begin, Oscar Robertson led his segregated, all-black high school to the 1955 Indiana State Championship, then was named Indiana’s “Mr. Basketball” the following season. He attended the University of Cincinnati, winning the national scoring title each year he played for UC. He set 14 NCAA records and was named College Player of the Year in 1958, 59 and 60. Then, just before turning pro, Robertson won a Gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics as co-captain of Team USA. His NBA career was, if anything, more spectacular than his high school and college years. He began by winning Rookie of the Year honors in 1961, and followed that up by winning the MVP Award in 1964 and being named a 12-time All-Star. He led the league in assists 6 times and won an NBA Championship in 1971. When time came to pick the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996, the Big O was front and center. Like Michael Jordan did decades later, Oscar Robertson revolutionized the way basketball was played. Off the court, he also fought against racism and led an anti-trust lawsuit against the NBA that culminated in extensive reform of the draft and free agency rules. The culmination of Robertson’s career was when he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980. To commemorate this special milestone, Robertson was presented with this Hall of Fame ring, the first-time inductees were so honored.
The face of the ring features a large diamond framed by victory laurels mounted on a black stone. “BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME” in raised letters encircle the mounting. The left shank has “ROBERTSON” engraved above the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame logo and the right shank has “1979” engraved above a relief of two players. The inside had the Balfour hallmark, though the original “10K” gold content marking is illegible due to wear. The ring shows good wear by Robertson, who was obviously proud of this visual representation of his enshrinement in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Sharp-eyed NBA historians will note that this ring has the year “1979” on its shank. Though Robertson was officially inducted in 1980, this was a quirk found on the rings of the two other Class of 1980 inductees, Jerry West and Jerry Lucas. An unbelievably unique piece of NBA history belonging to one of the game’s great innovators and early superstars. The ring comes with a signed LOA from Oscar Robertson himself.