There is a very interesting web site called Sportsgrid, which aims to measure the "buzz" associated with a NBA team. The FAQ of the site lists how they attempt to quantify the oomph each NBA team might have on any given day. (Miami is Hot, and Brooklyn is NOT.)
One way Sportsgrid tracks sports hottness is through tracking merchandise sales. This includes eBay. eBay is America's yard sale, its entries either trash or treasure. I decided I'd look around and poke at the items, but I gave myself an imaginary big wallet. Aside from one case where I thought the high price was listed strictly as a group, here are the highest priced items associated with each of the twelve WNBA Teams as of this writing.
And if the descriptions below whet your whistle, just click the links to look at the entries yourself.
One piece of signed vinyl tile by Angel McCoughtry, current price $104.99
It could be that your living room is missing a big hunk of tile after moving that piano. Well, wouldn't you like to replace that tile with a piece of WNBA floor tile signed by several members of the 2013 Atlanta Dream?
Now this "vinyl floor tire piece" has been signed by Alex Bentley, Courtney Clements, Erika de Souza, Aneika Henry, Armintie Herrington, Angel McCoughtry, Ruth Riley, Jasmine Thomas, and Le'coe Willingham. Why the signatures were obtained on vinyl tile pieces is a question of its own, but it appears that the seller - wnbagals - is obtaining the vinyl samples from Home Depot. Do signatures keep better on vinyl tile pieces, or do they just look better? The signatures are at various levels of legibility, but given what I know about the autograph hounds that hang around practices, I don't doubt that these can be easily authenticated.
Assessment: Well, I don't care much for the idea of something being signed on vinyl tile, but the price seems in line with other autograph prices.
Elena Delle Done jersey signed "ROY 13", current price $295.00
This is pretty much what the description says it is. It is signed "Elene DD #11 ROY 13". The ROY stands for "Rookie of the Year" and was probably signed in late 2013 after she won the Rookie of the Year award - I don't think Delle Donne is that confident to sign something in anticipation of winning.
Assessment: I'm sure some jersey expert can claim otherwise, but this looks a lot like your typical commemorative jersey you'd buy at a WNBA souvenir store. The adidas tag looks exactly like the one that's in my Iziane Castro Marques memorial jersey. I would love to know the circumstances under which this was signed. If this were an authentic game jersey, I'd be framing it. I think the $300 price tag is a bit steep, as there are going to be a zillion chances over the next ten years to have Delle Donne sign something for you if you're interested.
Connecticut Sun road jersey, circa 2003, current price $149.99
Remember when the Connecticut Sun wore bright red and yellow road jerseys? Yeah, I don't either. But you can take a peek at this jersey. The question is who did it belong to, or who did it commemorate? The number is #5 and the name is "Powers" but no player in WNBA history had the last name of Powers.
So I looked it up. This article in the Hartford Courant mentions Connecticut free agent signee Natalie Powers, who played for Western Kentucky. There were two preseason games during the first year in Connecticut, one at home against the Liberty and one away against Charlotte. Powers was on the bench the first game, didn't play, and figured she had no chance to make the team. According to Mike Thibault, "She's a heck of a shooter, but she told me, 'Reality is reality'."
Powers indeed wore #5, so it's a good chance that this is her road jersey. She left to establish a coaching career, so I hope she's having some luck with that somewhere.
Assessment: I'd rather have this one than the nondescript looking Delle Donne jersey above. It sure looks real to me. Buy this one and establish your WNBA cred.
2012 Indiana WNBA championship team signed 8 x 10 photo, $112.50
Graphfactory Authentics states that this 2012 Indiana Fever championship photo was "received in person at Target Center in 2012". This is an odd statement to make since the Fever won the championship at home by winning Game 4, but it could have actually been signed during Game 1 or Game 2. It looks like the following team members signed this:
Tamika Catchings (#24)
Karima Christmas (#11)
Sasha Goodlett (#45)
Erlana Larkins (#2)
Erin Phillips (#13)
Jeanette Pohlen (#32)
Shavonte Zellous (#1)
There are two signatures that might belong to Briann January and Tammy Sutton-Brown, but I can't be sure. All are signed in gold marker, so they were all probably signed during a team pass-around. (Although Lin Dunn's signature seems to be slightly off-color). There's not much of a "photo" here, just a picture of the Indiana Fever logo.
Assessment: Given the players that signed it and the circumstances in which it was probably signed, I'd buy it. It is authenticated, but I wonder if a similar pic signed just after Game 4 would have been worth more.
Los Angeles Sparks
Los Angeles Sparks Team Signed 8 1/2 x 10 1/2, $199.99
It would have really, really helped if a year had been assigned to this item. This is actually a signed photo from the 1998 team. This was the only year I know that both Jamila Wideman and Octavia Blue were on the Sparks.
Erin Alexander (#15)
Katrina Colleton (#12)
Alison Feaster (#5)
Mwadi Mabika (#4) (signed "Mwady"?)
Eugenia Rycraw (#40)
Alexandra VanEmbricqs (#14)
...and others. It's very hard to make out some of these signatures, and I suspect these were signed in the pre-season. Note that there is a signature by C. J. Jones (#32). I have no idea who C. J. Jones is. Maybe someone out there can figure it out.
Assessment: It looks pretty authentic to me, and I wouldn't mind having it. However, Lisa Leslie's signature is either a) obscured by one of the photographs, or b) no where to be found. If Leslie's signature was front and center, it would be worth more.
Markeisha Gatling and NC State's ascent
N.C. State is on a roll and at the center of it all is 6-foot-5 center Markeisha Gatling, who was named a candidate for both the Naismith Award and Wade Trophy earlier this week.
Authentic Maya Moore game-worn jersey, $2000
This is what is says on the tin. Someone bid $1900 for a game-worn jersey, and apparently won. Moore signed the jersey with "Col 3:23" which refers to "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters." This is the verse that Moore usually attaches to her autographs, and the seller gives some extra detail.
The jersey was worn during a game on August 19, 2012 with the Lynx beating the Shock 83-59. Moore scored 22 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists and clinched a playoff spot with this win. (They were 17-4 after this game.)
"It still smells and looks like a game jersey." Okay, maybe I didn't need to know that much.
Assessment: "The only reason my sister is parting with this jersey is so she can continue her season ticket status." Man, I don't know. Is it really worth $2000? Those must be some sweet seats.
New York Liberty
A lot of 37 small New York Liberty souvenir basketballs, $100
Okay, this is pretty weird. You get 37 tiny souvenir basketballs, which appeared to be wrapped in plastic and deflated. Each has the logo of the New York Liberty on it. I suggest you bring your own air pump. The seller lists this as "a lot of 37 NY Liberty WNBA Basketball Souvenir Giveaway Collectible. Items are new not inflated."
Assessment: It says "Please ask any questions before purchase." My first question would be "how do I know these didn't 'fall off the back of a truck' if you know what I mean and I think you do?" And really, what are you going to do with 37 basketballs? Inflate them and lower their collectible value? Display them for your family and friends? Throw them back at the New York Liberty players? I'd pass.
Diana Taurasi Phoenix Mercury 2004 Ultra WNBA Platinum Medallion card, $1,549.99
It's a collectible card, in a nice lucite-looking clear plastic card holder. It's a Fleet Ultra, whatever those are.
Assessment: Basketball cards. Could be worth anything. I mean, you can pick up and feel a jersey, and there's some cachet in knowing that it's game worn. Signatures are hard to fake. Unless I was an absolute expert in the WNBA collectibles market, there's no way I'd feel confident buying this.
San Antonio Stars
One piece of signed vinyl tile by Becky Hammon, current price $104.99
Wow. Sounds a lot like that piece of vinyl tile signed by the Atlanta Dream. Well guess who's selling it?
Game ball signed by Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird, $200
Ball #1 is an orange-and-white ball marked with the Infusion WNBA Dual Action Micro Pump brand. It is listed as a 2005 team ball and has multiple signatures on it. The second ball is a green and gold ball with the Seattle Storm logo. Furthermore, unlike the first ball,
a) we don't know in what year the ball was signed, and
b) there are only two signatures on this ball (Bird and Jackson)
Assessment: I like the green and gold ball a little better than the knockoff WNBA ball. However, the orange and white ball has more signatures on it. Tough choice. But is a green basketball with two signatures really worth $200?
One piece of vinyl tile signed by Skylar Diggins, $104.99
Assessment: Someone's going to have a very interesting floor.
Washington Mystics 2013 team signed game ball, $149.95
According to the seller, this was signed at their Los Angeles hotel on June 23, 2013. (They lost 79-69.) The ball is a Spalding-brand WNBA ball with the stamp of President Laurel Richie. It's hard to tell who signed it but the photo sure look authentics. (It looks like the seller brought the ball individually to players who signed it.
The signatures look like those of:
Matee Ajavon (#22)
Monique Currie (#25)
Tayler Hill (#4) (signed "T. H.")
Ivory Latta (#12)
Crystal Langhorne (#1)
Jessica Moore (#31)
Nadirah McKenith (#5)
Emma Meesseman (#33) (signed "EMMA")
Tierra Ruffin-Pratt (#44) (signed "TRP")
Kia Vaughn (#9) (signed "Kia")
Assessment: Well, it would be nicer if the players signed their customary scrawls rather than initials. (Does Emma Meesseman always sign 'EMMA'?) Then again, this is worth a lot more than the 2012 Washington Mystics team ball, which probably sells for 2.7 cents.
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