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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 6

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Page 66 of 91

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 6 67 BY ALAN KARPICK S ecuring one of the most important pieces of memorabilia in Purdue history took the skills Drew Brees has in abundant supply: Poise, team- work and competitiveness. On May 18, Brees and Orlando Itin, Purdue memorabilia extraor- dinaire and co-owner of Bruno's Restaurant, began an auction that started in the evening and lasted into the wee morning hours. By the time it was finished, the pair had successfully obtained John Wooden's Purdue basketball jersey, thought to be one of the rarest items in college basketball memorabilia. Basketball jerseys from Wooden's col- lege days (1929-32) are pretty much non-existent, and Itin wasn't sure he would see one in his lifetime. The procurement process wasn't easy and, naturally, not without a large price tag. The final price was $264,000, a fraction of the $3 million Brees has donated to Purdue since 2007, but still far from insignificant. Brees announced the acquisition via video at a John Purdue Club event in late May in Jeffersonville, Ind. He had planned to deliver the news in person, but weather prevented his flight from arriving. "This jersey clearly belongs at Pur- due, and I am excited we will have it on display for Boilermaker fans to see," Brees said in the video. "I told Orlando we had to get it, and we did." For much more than Itin — and maybe Brees — initially thought. "When the item came up for auc- tion, I thought the market would be in the $30,000 range, because the first bid started at $13,000," said Itin, whose Big-O Sportsroom in his West Lafayette restaurant has one of the greatest private collections of Purdue history anywhere. "But that changed once it became a national story." Journal & Courier basketball writer Nathan Baird also caught wind of the auction item and wrote a story in late April about the jersey, its original own- ers and their relation to Wooden. The story not only raised awareness that the jersey was out there, but it also raised the bidding price. "I kidded with Nathan for him to run the story after the auction was over, because the publicity generated by the story raised the price tag big time," Itin said with a laugh. "I was prepared to handle the cost myself if it had stayed at under $50,000, but once it jumped well past that, I knew I couldn't raise the price of our pizzas high enough to cover the cost." Itin and Tom Schott, Purdue's se- nior associate athletics director for communications and the in-house keeper of the key when it comes to Purdue sports history, knew where to turn: Brees. The good thing was Brees also is a collector — and a Wooden disciple. "When I first texted Drew about the jersey and what was going on, his re- sponse was 'Oh my gosh,' so I knew he was interested in helping out," Itin said. "We talked on the phone, and Drew said, 'Do whatever it takes to get this for Purdue.'" Preserving Purdue History PRESENTS: PURDUE'S GREATEST STORIES, TRADITIONS AND PEOPLE Tom Schott Orlando Itin proudly displays the John Wooden jersey that he worked with Drew Brees to secure for Purdue's posterity. Brees, Itin work overtime to secure Wooden jersey Triple XXX Family Restaurants and Route 66 Diner salute Drew Brees. We celebrate with THE DREW BREES FIRST CHOICE: Two eggs, choice of chicken fried steak or our signature 100-percent ground sirloin, fried potatoes or hash browns, two buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy. Indiana's Oldest Drive-In On The Hill, But On The Level Since 1929

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