Naismith items bound for his native Canada

Updated: December 21, 2006, 9:20 AM ET
Associated Press

TORONTO -- James Naismith, the Canadian who invented basketball, amassed a treasure trove of memorabilia, and it's headed back to Canada 67 years after his death.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has purchased the best pieces, 25 in all, from a collection put up for auction this month by his family.

A passport used by Naismith to travel in 1936 to Berlin, where basketball was played for the first time as an Olympic sport, went for $20,315.

Other items purchased by MLSE from a Dallas auction house include handwritten documents pertaining to the invention of basketball -- the sport's "Book of Genesis" -- personal photographs and handwritten plays.

Naismith became an American citizen in 1925 and he died in 1939 in Kansas of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1955.

"We're grateful to Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment for supporting the hall's efforts to preserve and celebrate the sports history of our nation," Hall CEO Sheryn Posen said in a statement. "This is a significant collection of artifacts that highlight the life of one of Canada's most legendary sports figures."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press