26 March 2012 - This custom booklet commemorates Rik Smits's historical game-winning shot in the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals in Game 4 against the Orlando Magic, tieing the series 2-2. It was an incredible moment as everybody was looking at Reggie Miller, but it was Smits who finally received the ball, faked out Tree Rollins and hit the long jumper.
I found Smits's address and decided to give it a shot. I sent in two copies of the page that needed to be signed together with a description and blueprint of the booklet and wished for the best.
Incredibly only a few weeks later I received both copies signed by Smits and he had also written a greeting (in Dutch) and signed on a copy of the 'blueprint' of the card that I had sent him.
I assembled two booklets with the autographs and, while keeping one copy for myself, I was able to sell the second one to a Pacers fan in the States. The proceeds went straight to the Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis.
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Swen Nater is the second Dutch-born player to play professional basketball in the United States. He was 1974 ABA Rookie of the Year and is the only player in history to lead both the ABA and the NBA in rebounding. Despite this he has never been fully acknowledged as a basketball legend. He now lives a modest life; working for Costco, giving basketball clinics and writing books.
I emailed him and he gave me permission to send my two booklets to him for signature. It only took about two weeks to be delivered back to me. He signed the UCLA booklet on the front cover and on the inside page, and the Swen Nater booklet on the front. He also wrote a small note on the back of the accompanying letter.
Dan Gadzuric is the seventh Dutch-born player in the NBA. Drafted in 2002, he played with the Milwaukee Bucks for eight seasons and also played with the Nets, Warriors and Knicks. I was able to get in contact with him and he agreed to sign some cards for me. Although it appeared the package had gone missing, it finally arrived with him after five months and another month later it came back to me.
Best wishes from one rebounder to another - Swen Nater
Thank you very much for your support - Dan Gadzuric