№2: Amassing the signatures of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players

January 11, 2021

Welcome to the tedi.substack.com weekly newsletter! At the beginning of each week*, this newsletter will touch on any number of entertaining, informative, or (possibly) useful topics.

The focus of this week’s newsletter is on a dream that I’ve had since I first saw the mural of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players up on the wall of the old NBA Store in New York City. It wasn’t for sale of course (I actually had the audacity to ask) and even if it was—I could never afford it. More on this in the section below.

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The NBA 50 Greatest Players Lithograph

It has been many years since I last saw the actual lithograph, but after an online search—well, this was probably it. Amazing right!

 The NBA 50 Greatest Players lithograph is considered by some to be the holy grail of basketball autograph collecting. It measures 25x39" and features color portraits of the NBA's 50 greatest players. Forty-nine of the fifty player signatures appear in 250 individually numbered pieces. Only "Pistol Pete" Maravich, who passed away in 1988, is missing. The breakdown of the 250 individually numbered pieces are as follows: 50 prints going to the players, 100 "NBA Edition” prints, 50 "Legends Edition" prints, and finally 50 "Field of Dreams" prints.

Now, since it would be virtually impossible to secure one of the 250 lithographs (If I owned one, I’d certainly never part with it!), I decided to turn my attention to individuals autographs in 2012.

This passion project would not have been possible without all of the help and encouragement I’ve gotten along the way.

Thank you!

Addendum: With the surge in current market prices (January to March 2020), the reality is that the autograph cards of a number of NBA Legends have simply become…unattainable. Nevertheless, it does not take away from the joy of finding and scoring on good deals. Not to mention the priceless personal and team effort card acquisition stories that I have experienced along the way.

I may never be able to get all 50—but by the time I’m done, I would have come really close.

NBA’s 50 Greatest Players (In Alphabetical Order)

1) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2002-2003 Upper Deck Generations Signature Classics #KA-S)

2) Nate Archibald (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #NA)

3) Paul Arizin (†) (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #PA)

4) Charles Barkley - None

5) Rick Barry

a] (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #RB)

b] (2002-2003 Upper Deck Generations Signature Classics #RB-S)

6) Elgin Baylor (†) (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #EB)

7) Dave Bing (1978-1979 Topps #61 [Boston Celtics] | PSA/DNA Certified)

8) Larry Bird (2015-2016 Panini Luxe Red [02/25])

9) Wilt Chamberlain (†) - None

10) Bob Cousy (Personal Check Dated April 20, 1997)

11) Dave Cowens

a] (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #DC)

b] (2015-2016 Panini Luxe Gold [08/10])

12) Billy Cunningham (1970-1971 Topps Tall Boy #140 [Philadelphia 76ers] | BGS Authentic Autograph)

13) Dave DeBusschere (†) (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #DD)

14) Clyde Drexler (2002-2003 Upper Deck Generations Signature Classics #CD-S)

15) Julius Erving (2019-2020 Panini Encased #SS-JEV [9/15])

16) Patrick Ewing - None

17) Walt Frazier (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #WF)

18) George Gervin (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #GG)

19) Hal Greer (†) (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #HG)

20) John Havlicek (†) (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #JH)

21) Elvin Hayes (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #EH)

22) Magic Johnson (1996-1997 Upper Deck SPx #24 [Los Angeles Lakers] | BGS 10)

23) Sam Jones (2019-20 Panini Impeccable Indelible Ink #II-SJN [23/25])

24) Michael Jordan - None

25) Jerry Lucas (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #JL)

26) Karl Malone (1996-1997 Upper Deck SPx #47 [Utah Jazz] | PSA/DNA Certified)

27) Moses Malone (†) 

a] (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #MM)

b] (2000-2001 Upper Deck ABA Legends Legendary Signatures #MM)

28) Pete Maravich (†) - None

29) Kevin McHale (2011-2012 Panini Private Signings #PS-KMC)

30) George Mikan (†) - None

31) Earl Monroe (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #EM)

32) Hakeem Olajuwon - None

33) Shaquille O’Neal - None

34) Robert Parish (2015-2016 Panini Luxe Red [07/25])

35) Bob Pettit (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #BP)

36) Scottie Pippen - None

37) Willis Reed (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #WR)

38) Oscar Robertson (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #OR)

39) David Robinson - None

40) Bill Russell - (Bill Russell Limited Edition Mr. Octobear Set | Hollywood Collectibles’ Reggie Jackson’s Mr. Octobears Promotional Set | PSA/DNA Certified)

41) Dolph Schayes (†) (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #DS)

42) Bill Sharman (†) (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #BS)

43) John Stockton (2019-20 Panini National Treasures - Peerless Signatures #PS-JSK [13/15])

44) Isiah Thomas (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #IT)

45) Nate Thurmond (†) (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #NT)

46) Wes Unseld (†) (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #WU)

47) Bill Walton (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #BW)

48) Jerry West (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #JW)

49) Lenny Wilkens (2008-2009 Topps Gold Foil #183 | BGS Authentic Autograph)

50) James Worthy (2019-20 Panini National Treasures - Peerless Signatures #PS-JW [28/49])

Glaring Omission

1) Bob McAdoo (2019-20 Panini National Treasures - Peerless Signatures #PS-BMD [41/99])

In 1974-1975, Bob McAdoo captured that season’s MVP award with averages of 34.5 points, 14.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.1 steals, and 2.1 blocks on 51.2% FG% and 80.5% FT% over 82 games. In 1996, he was the only past MVP awardee to not be selected as part of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players.

2) Dominique Wilkins (1999-2000 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures #DW)


Tedi Gustilo Villasor, Ph.D. is a former columnist for Baby Magazine (Philippines) as well as a past contributor to NBA.com/Philippines. His other works include the indie comic books Lindol and OBIsessions.

Click here for more information on his work as a psychologist.

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