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Amazon Scores NBA Legend to Help It Expand Collectibles

Hall of Famer. Multiple-time NBA MVP and champion. All-time league scoring leader. And of course, comedic actor. What’s next for Kareem Abdul Jabbar? Why not ecommerce, as the sporting legend embarked on a partnership with online selling giant Amazon.com to sell sports memorabilia.

The new arrangement, called Starguard Collectibles, touts authentic sports memorabilia directly from athletes. While there’s plenty of Kareem-autographed items, the store also holds items signed by the likes of Bill Russell and Ernie Banks.

Sports collectors will find unique limited-edition items on Amazon.com, from $150 up to $10,000. Each piece of Starguard Collectibles memorabilia is certified with a patent-pending Certificate of Authenticity that includes each athlete’s signature and DNA via their thumbprint. In addition to items such as game-worn clothing and basketballs, fans can purchase unique limited-edition art that has been merged with sports memorabilia

It’s only been a couple of years since Amazon entered the collectibles market, a category that put them into further direct competition with eBay. In 2013, Amazon and Creative Artists Agency began a partnership called Prize Authentics. That deal brought in collectibles from movies, TV, and music, along with sports memorabilia.

Amazon.com spokesperson Erik Fairleigh provided EcommerceBytes.com some additional insights into the company’s collectibles efforts, as shown in our interview below.

EcommerceBytes: Is Amazon working on any similar deals with other athletes or celebrities?

Erik Fairleigh: Stay tuned. We have nothing to announce today but we’re always working with potential Sellers with unique items and looking to grow selection from popular athletes and entertainers.

EcommerceBytes: Are there any particular celebrities you think would be a great match for Amazon when it comes to collectibles?

Erik Fairleigh: While I have personal favorites, it would be hard to speculate. The best barometer for what’s hot is listening to customer feedback. We are always listening to our customers to ensure we’re evolving the Sports and Entertainment Collectibles stores in a meaningful way that improves the customer browse and purchase experience. One example, we’ve heard from our customers that rare collectibles make awesome gifts so getting as much unique selection available to customers is our priority.

EcommerceBytes: What kinds of collectibles have been the most successful for Amazon so far?

Erik Fairleigh: We are pleased with our Sports and Entertainment Collectibles stores, and our recently launched Fine Art store. Sellers in the categories have had success selling items at various price points. Serious collectors and casual fans alike can discover a broad selection including celebrity and athlete autographs, memorabilia, jerseys, props and wardrobes from popular movies and TV shows, musical instruments from legendary musicians, autographed original vinyl albums and much more.

You can hear Abdul Jabbar speaking about the new venture in this CNBC video.

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David A Utter
David A Utter
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.