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Dr. James Naismith introduced a new game class to his physical education class on December 21, 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Just over half a century later, the New York Knicks traveled to Canada to play the Toronto Huskies at Maple Leaf Garden for the first BAA (now NBA) game. The Basketball Hall of Fame, which honors professional and amateur players, coaches, and contributors from around the world, opened a little more than a decade later in 1959.
In 2020, the United States Mint is commemorating half a century of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with three coins, one $5 gold coin, one silver dollar, and one clad half dollar. The Hall receives almost 200,000 people a year, giving them the opportunity to learn about the game and its history, engage in interactive exhibits, and test their skills.
As with other United States Mint commemorative coins, each of these coins has a surcharge that goes to a worthy cause. A $35 surcharge for each gold coin, a $10 surcharge for each silver dollar, and a $5 surcharge for each clad half dollar will go to the Hall of Fame. Proceeds will fund an endowment that will provide for educational programming and more operations.
Each of the three coins share the same designs. The obverse was designed by Justin Kunz and sculpted by Michael Gaudioso. Three players, two men and one woman, reach for a ball. One of the men is in a wheelchair. The design represents the diversity of people around the world whom the game brings together and the physical and mental exertion necessary to play well. These images are set against a subtle net background. “2020” is inscribed in the lower right, while “LIBERTY” and “IN GOD WE TRUST” are inscribed on the rim.
The reverse features a basketball that fills almost the entire face starting to go through a hoop. It was designed by Donna Weaver and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill. Rim inscriptions offer the coin’s country, “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” a statutory inscription, “E PLURIRBUS UNUM,” and the respective coin’s face value.
This design will appear on $5 gold coins, silver dollar coins, and half dollar clad coins, all of which will be available in Mint State or Proof finishes.
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