On April 4, 2020, the United States Mint will launch its Basketball Hall of Fame commemorative coin program which is being issued to mark the 60th anniversary of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. The coins will include clad half dollars, silver dollars and $5 gold coins, including some special, limited issue versions and the first colorized coins to ever be released by the Mint-- all struck in a domed shape so that they physically resemble a basketball.
A Brief Overview of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame
The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame is a museum and hall of fame that recognizes and honors the greatest players alongside other important figures in the very popular sport of basketball. The Hall of Fame promotes interest in basketball while working to preserve the game’s rich history. It is named for James Naismith, a Canadian American physician who taught physical education in Springfield. He is considered the inventor of the game of basketball and promoted what have become known as “Naismith values”— Teamwork, Sportsmanship, Fitness, Leadership, Integrity, Respect, and Perseverance. Since its founding in 1959, the hall has inducted almost 400 players, teams, coaches and referees. Almost 200,000 people visit the hall annually, and it operates more than 70 high school and college basketball competitions.
The Basketball Hall of Fame, unlike those for football and baseball, honors both American and foreign players, which reflects the popularity of the sport around the world. This global reach includes China, where 300 million people play the game, compared to a tenth of that number who play the sport in the United States. The Basketball Hall of Fame has a wide range of programs that include sponsoring scholarships, preserving important artifacts and documents related to the game, and exposing more people to the sport.
United States Mint Basketball Hall of Fame Domed Coin Design
The three Basketball Hall of Fame commemorative coins will feature a common design with a concave-shaped obverse that depicts three players of diverse backgrounds, a black male, a white female and a white male Paralympian in a wheelchair, reaching in unison for the same basketball. Their arms are extended towards the basketball, and their gaze is firmly fixed on the ball, to symbolize both the physical exertion and mental energy required to excel at basketball. The rim and net appear in the background along with inscriptions along the upper rim for “LIBERTY,” “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “2020”.
The common reverse, which will be convex in shape, features a basketball as it is about to pass through a net plus inscriptions along the upper inner rim for “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “E PLURIBUS UNUM” and the respective denomination of each coin. This design perfectly captures the essence of basketball.
Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) member Justin Kunz designed the obverse after his design was selected as the winner of a design competition with 23 entries, and it was sculpted by Michael Gaudioso. The reverse was designed by AIP artist Donna Weaver and sculpted by U.S. Mint medallic artist Phoebe Hemphill.
Types of Coins in the Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Series
On April 4th, 2020, in conjunction with the Final Four basketball tournament in Atlanta, Georgia, large images of the designs will be unveiled during a special ceremony. The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame has developed a strong marketing plan for the coins that seeks to create synergy between coin collectors and basketball fans. The roll-out of the series is being timed to coincide with the 2020 basketball season.
On that date, the Mint will begin accepting orders for the various product options in the program, which include uncirculated and proof versions of the clad half dollar, silver dollar, and $5 gold coin. Each will be offered individually in display boxes whose outside depicts a basketball, as does the certificate of authenticity for each coin.
Up to 750,000 half dollars will be struck, the uncirculated ones will be produced at the Denver Mint and the proofs at the San Francisco Mint. In addition 400,000 silver dollars will be struck, with both the uncirculated and proof specimens being produced at the Philadelphia Mint. 50,000 gold coins will also be struck, with both uncirculated and proof examples being produced at the West Point Mint. The final mintage figures will depend on demand.
Surcharges from the sale of each coin will be paid to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for an endowment that will enable increased operations, scholarships, and educational programming.
In addition to these offerings, a 2020 Kid’s Basketball Set that features a 2020-S Enhanced Uncirculated basketball half dollar in special packaging will be available on April 4 and will be limited to 75,000 sets.
Special Colorized Issues- A Novelty from the United States Mint
At a later date not yet announced, special versions of the proof 2020-S clad half dollars and the proof 2020-P silver dollars – each limited to 75,000 coins – will receive partial colorization to one side of each coin. The half dollar’s obverse will feature color, while the silver dollar’s reverse will have color. The colorization is being done by an outside vendor, who will apply color to the coins after receiving struck regular examples from the U.S. Mint.
Basketball Commemorative Coin Series First Strike Ceremony
On February 25, 2020, at the U.S. Mint located in Philadelphia, Director of the Mint David J. Ryder hosted a special ceremonial first striking of the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame commemorative coins. The event featured guests that included members and supporters of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame – such as Rep. Richard Neal, who sponsored the legislation that authorized the coin program, and basketball legends Julius Erving and Sherly Swoopes, among others.
During the ceremony guests such as Naismith Hall of Fame CEO John L. Doleva and CFO Don Senecal, as well as Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) Chairman, Thomas J. Uram, were all able to strike examples of the 2020-P basketball silver dollar.
At the event, Director Ryder discussed how it was the Mint’s “great privilege to bring America to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.” CCAC Chairman, Thomas Uram, told GovMint.com in an interview that it was an “honor to be invited by the Basketball Hall of Fame to the event” and also said he was impressed with how the coins turned out and “the reeding on the edge of each coin is very sharp.” He also commented that the hall of fame has developed “an innovative marketing program and that it is great to see the stakeholders [of the program] so engaged.”
What makes these commemorative coins exciting for collectors?
The 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame coins are only the third dome-shaped coins ever issued by the U.S. Mint in its history. This unusual shape, which lends itself well to sports and space-themed coins, has proven popular with collectors, which was reflected in the big success of the first two coins of the type, the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame coins and 2019 Apollo 11 50th anniversary coins.
Whether you are a collector of modern U.S. commemoratives or a collector of sports memorabilia including coins, these new issues are a must-have. Especially because they include the first partially colorized legal tender issues that will be available in limited numbers. Colored coins are a major departure from past U.S. coinage but have been issued by world mints for years.
Celebrate the great game of basketball and its amazing players, teams, coaches and referees with these unique numismatic collectibles that will help fund scholarships and programs of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame!