The gold medal that four-time NBA All-Star Vin Baker won with USA Basketball at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, has been sold at auction for more than $67,000.
Grey Flannel Auctions listed the gold medal, which is in mint condition and includes letters of authentication from Baker, with a starting bid of $35,000 last month. Bidding closed Thursday with a sale price of $67,643 after a total of four bids were placed.
The gold-plated silver medal weighs 6.85 oz, is 5mm thick and measures 68mm across. It is attached to a 39” turquoise-blue ribbon embroidered with “SYDNEY 2000” in silver.
The medal features a design by Australian designer Wojciech Pietranik; it depicts Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, seated above the stadium and chariot along with “XXVII OLYMPIAD SYDNEY 2000”. This translates to “Games of the 27th Olympiad Sydney 2000”. The artist’s initials “WP” appear at the bottom of the design in relief.
The verso of the medal features the Olympic rings along with an image of the Sydney Opera House and an Olympic torch. “BASKETBALL” and “MEN” have been engraved along the perimeter.
Baker averaged eight points and three rebounds per game in eight appearances at the 2000 Olympics, as USA Basketball went 8-0 to claim its third consecutive gold medal. The 2000 roster also included Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett and Alonzo Mourning, and the team defeated France in the championship game to claim gold.
The 42-year-old retired in 2006 after a 13-year career with the Bucks, SuperSonics, Celtics, Knicks, Rockets and Clippers. An All-Star every year from 1995 through 1998, the 1993 lottery pick twice averaged better than 21 points per game, and he was selected to the 1997 All-NBA Third Team and the 1998 All-NBA Second Team. He earned more than $97 million in NBA salary.
As his career progressed, Baker struggled with severe alcoholism, and his post-retirement life has produced a number of reports indicating serious financial struggles. The New York Daily News reported in 2013 that Baker was pursuing a career as a youth minister and that he had quit drinking.
“When you’re protected by the armor of God, it doesn’t matter how much money you had or how many gold medals you won in the Olympics," Baker said, according to the Daily News. "No, the armor means praying and having the armor protect you from the enemy ... When you get some $100 million, it’s easy to forget about God. I’m guilty. I forgot about church on Sunday. But He brought me back under His protection.”
Hall of Famer Jerry Lucas recently put his gold medal from the 1960 Olympics in Rome up for auction. NBA All-Star Walter Davis also put his gold medal from the 1976 Olympics in Montreal up for auction in 2012.
USA Basketball, guided by coach Mike Krzyzewski, is currently preparing for the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.