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Posted at 3:27 PM ET, 12/10/2010

James Naismith's basketball rules bring $4.3 million at Sotheby's auction

By Cindy Boren

naismith.jpg

The "birth certificate" of basketball has sold at auction for more than $4 million.

The document, which is typed but also contains hand-written notes, is nearly 119 years old and lists James Naismith's 13 rules of the game. David G. Booth, co-founder of Dimensional Fund Advisors and a native of Lawrence, Kans., and his wife, Suzanne, reportedly bought the document for $4.3 million and hope to bring it to the University of Kansas. Naismith was the school's first basketball coach.

A physical education instructor at a Springfield, Mass., YMCA, Naismith had been given two weeks to invent a winter diversion for gym class. On Dec. 21, 1891 -- the eve of the deadline -- Naismith wrote the rules and gave them to his secretary, who typed them on two pages that Naismith pinned on a bulletin board outside the gym.

"It's really the genesis, the birth certificate of one of the world's most popular sports," said Selby Kiffer, senior specialist in American history documents at Sotheby's, which sold the rules for the Dr. James Naismith International Basketball Foundation.

Ian Naismith, foundation founder and grandson of James Naismith (who moved to Lawrence, Kan., in 1898), said when the document went up for sale:

"It's what Dr. Naismith wanted."

By Cindy Boren  | December 10, 2010; 3:27 PM ET
 
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