Most decorated Olympic basketball player sells gold medal

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Teresa Edwards, the most decorated Olympic basketball player in history with five medals (four gold), is selling one of those medals.

Edwards’ collection with auction house Lelands includes not only her first Olympic gold medal from 1984, but also game-worn Olympic jerseys and her Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame jacket and ring. The same auction block includes 1904 Olympic golf gold and silver medals.

Edwards’ Olympic gold medal auction had a starting bid of $15,000 and is up to $29,231 with 17 days left.

Much of Edwards’ memorabilia from her 16-year international career, including all of her Olympic medals, have been displayed at the University of Georgia, her alma mater, for 10 to 20 years.

Edwards is selling her first Olympic gold medal to “test the market” for such a piece of women’s sports memorabilia before deciding whether to sell the other medals.

She said a six-figure sum for the 1984 medal would be successful. In 2014, former NBA All-Star Vin Baker‘s gold medal from the 2000 Sydney Games sold for $67,000.

Edwards said her longtime U.S. teammate, Sheryl Swoopes, sold one of her Olympic gold medals (Swoopes’ 1996 gold is listed here as going for $13,000 in 2013).

“To die and leave them [the medals] afloat would be horrible,” said Edwards, who played on five straight Olympic teams from 1984 through 2000 and was Chef de Mission for the U.S. Olympic team in 2012. “To live and have an opportunity to donate them to certain places, that’s good, too.”

For Edwards, a motivation is gender equality.

“I don’t think women truly get a real opportunity to be part of the wealth that men are experiencing with articles of this nature,” she said. “I would love, first and foremost, to see women have a market to have the same options and opportunity to be a part of that auction world, to be a part of the greatness that goes with the Babe Ruth products and the Muhammad Ali products and the [Michael] Jordans. I just feel like women have a market. We have the Jackie Joyners [Kersee], we have the Billie Jeans [King], we have the [Martina] Navratilovas.”

A pair of Jordan’s shoes from the 1984 Olympics was auctioned Sunday morning for $190,000.

“If someone bought my medal for that kind of money, I think it would just open up a whole new window, an opportunity for women in sports and their history,” Edwards said. “Our stories haven’t been told yet.”

In 1984, Edwards made the Olympic team as its youngest player following her sophomore year at Georgia. Under coach Pat Summitt, the U.S. earned its first Olympic women’s basketball title in the event’s third time on the Olympic program.

Summitt, while a 24-year-old coach at Tennessee, was the oldest member of the first U.S. Olympic women’s team in 1976, which lost to the Soviet Union in the final.

What would the late Summitt, who didn’t win an Olympic gold medal herself, think of Edwards’ decision to sell one of hers?

“Deeply, I would think she would think the same thing I’m thinking,” Edwards said. “It’s my journey.”

The 1904 Olympic golf gold and silver medals being sold were won by American Chandler Egan in the team and individual events, respectively. The 1904 St. Louis Games marked the last time golf was played at the Olympics until Rio 2016.

It was reported last year that Egan’s medals were found in a bookcase in the former home of Egan’s daughter in Northeast Ohio.

The medals were displayed at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla., and the USGA Museum in Far Hills, N.J., before Egan’s grandchildren chose to sell it this year.

Egan’s grandson Morris Everett Jr. said the original plan was to have his heirs sell it years down the road. But the timing of golf’s return to the Games, plus seeing another 1904 Olympic golf gold medal sell for $272,000, proved too large a lure.

Everett said he and his brother and sister turned down an offer for $325,000 for both of Egan’s medals and chose in April to auction them on Lelands.

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