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The 'bible' of basketball to be auctioned

By Richard Roth and Lejla Radoncic, CNN
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Original hoop rules on auction block
  • James Naismith's "Founding Rules of Basketball" were issued in 1891
  • There initially were just 13 rules for the game
  • Naismith invented the game so children could play indoors in the winter

New York (CNN) -- One of the most expensive sports-related documents, Dr. James Naismith's "Founding Rules of Basketball," will be up for auction Friday in New York.

The original rules are 119 years old and still intact. Naismith's youngest grandson, Ian, owner of the pages, will sell the family treasure to benefit the Naismith Foundation for children.

The two pages may go for at least $2 million.

"This is the birth certificate. It started here," said Selby Kiffer, Sotheby's vice president for manuscripts and books department.

Naismith, the Canadian physical education instructor, created the game of basketball so students could play a sport indoors in the winter time. Naismith had no idea his invention would prosper so rapidly.

After Naismith's death in 1939, the family held onto the 13 rules of the game in a safe deposit box at various locations.

The family has always been largely involved in the game of basketball but after many offers, it is "time to move forward," stated Ian Naismith, now living outside Chicago.

CNN invited Sotheby's to bring the rules to New York's Madison Square Garden.

New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni exclaimed, "they're cool."

Former Knicks coach Larry Brown, now with the Charlotte Bobcats, said "it's a game that's been awfully good to me and a lot of other people. So the rules are special."

The money raised at the auction will go to the Naismith charities, including a children's foundation. The humanitarian foundation promotes Naismith's legacy of encouraging good sportsmanship, positive role-modeling, higher education and providing services for underprivileged children.

The game of basketball has changed somewhat since Naismith's days.

Naismith wanted basketball to have no physical contact between players and to encourage sportsmanship. After a recent pickup game, President Barack Obama received 12 stitches on his lip, proving that the contemporary game of basketball is tougher than it was in 1891.

Basketball has become one of the biggest businesses in sports. Players earn millions of dollars in salaries.

"The greed factor is getting quite strong, people are making an awful lot of money in the game and have a tendency to lose in our opinion the values," said Ian Naismith.