MLSE nabs Naismith items

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment has had problems putting a winning product on the ice and on hardwood, but the company which owns the Leafs and Raptors came up big at an auction.

This week, MLSE purchased 25 pieces of the Dr. James Naismith Collection, which was recently placed up for auction by Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas.

The items include handwritten documents pertaining to the invention of basketball and the early evolution of the game, personal photographs, handwritten plays from Naismith, his personal rule books and other artifacts that belonged to the Canadian who invented basketball.

Included within MLSE's new collection is the whistle that Naismith used while teaching and coaching at the University of Kansas, considered one of the prime pieces up for bid in the auction. MLSE has purchased this collection in support of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. Plans call for the items to be placed on display at Air Canada Centre, but will also be part of the Hall's outreach program.

"We're very pleased to have the opportunity to play an important role in preserving Canadian sports history," said John Lashway, MLSE senior vice-president of communications and community development."

Naismith, a native of Almonte, Ont., was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1955. He invented basketball in Springfield, Mass., in 1891 while working as a physical education teacher at the YMCA International Training School and coaching football at McGill University in Montreal. His personal affects were placed up for auction by his family during the first two weeks of December.

MONEY TALK

Sports Illustrated recently released each NBA team's payroll and the Raptors have the third lowest, ringing in at $51.1 million for the 2006-07 season, just ahead of the Atlanta Hawks ($45.7 million) and the Charlotte Bobcats ($38 million). Not surprisingly, the dysfunctional New York Knicks will spend the most this season ($117 million). The highest paid player is Kevin Garnett of the Timberwolves at $21 million.

HOME COOKIN'

Portland native Fred Jones invited his Raptors teammates to his mom's house for a home-cooked pre-Christmas dinner tonight.


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