Lakers collector adds LeBron's record-setting rim to incredible 'Shrine'

David Kohler paid more than $150k to add rim to collection of jerseys, awards, balls, more

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David Kohler's "Laker Shrine" is the most extensive collection for the 17-time NBA champions. (Courtesy of David Kohler)

"How do you find all the time to find this crap?"

That's the first question Basketball Hall of Famer Jerry West had for SCP Auctions president David Kohler when he first saw Kohler's "Lakers Shrine," the largest collection of Lakers memorabilia on the planet.

Between running SCP and brokering some of the industry's largest private sales, Kohler seems to have no issue carving out time to grow his absurdly extensive list of iconic memorabilia for the 17-time NBA champions.

In a Sotheby's auction this month, Kohler was the high-bidder on the rim used during the game when LeBron broke the NBA scoring record.

Price paid? $152,400.

The rim from the night LeBron James broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's NBA career scoring record was auctioned off at Sotheby's earlier this month. (Credit: Sotheby's)
The rim from the night LeBron James broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's NBA career scoring record was auctioned off at Sotheby's earlier this month. (Credit: Sotheby's)

"I thought it would go for a lot more," Kohler said. "I mean, if that rim would have went for like, $500,000, I could totally see that."

To Kohler, who has been collecting Lakers memorabilia since the '80s, it represented the latest addition to his personal museum.

"Game-worn jerseys, awards, trophies, balls, shoes, you name it, I probably have it," Kohler told cllct.

Explaining the rationale behind his purchase of the hoop from LeBron's record night, Kohler emphasized the importance of its provenance, which comes directly from the team. "It's the all-time scoring record, which will probably never be broken ... And this is the rim." Kohler said. "The jersey that LeBron (wore) was probably worth $5 (million) or $10 million."

Considering LeBron is unlikely to sell the jersey from the game any time soon, this felt like Kohler's opportunity to acquire a piece of that moment in history — albeit in unique form.

Unlike most collectors suddenly finding themselves the new owners of a basketball rim — which can't exactly be displayed alongside a framed jersey on a wall in their office — Kohler never had to question where he would exhibit his new auction win.

The rim fits perfectly into his massive Lakers museum.

Kohler grew up in Los Angeles and is a lifelong fan of the team. West was his childhood hero. Later, the Showtime Lakers with Magic Johnson became a focal point. Kohler has had both legends over to see his shrine.

As his collection grew, he went back in time, also bringing Minneapolis Lakers memorabilia into his shrine.

Among the thousands of pieces of Lakers history dotting his museum are full collections from players such as George Mikan and Wilt Chamberlain, legends who span time — all the way up to Kobe Bryant and LeBron.

Some of the most eye-popping pieces that call Kohler's Lakers shrine home?

-- LeBron's first Lakers jersey

-- Kobe's cast from his wrist injury during his rookie season

-- Mikan's glasses

-- Playbooks from the Lakers championship run

-- The towel from around Kobe's neck while he gave his famous "Mamba out" speech after his final game

-- The basket and net from the Lakers last game at the Forum

Kohler's relentless focus has paid off over the decades, leaving him with a true time capsule from nearly every significant moment in the history of his beloved franchise.

Given that commitment to such a highly curated collection, Kohler was unphased by questions of whether or not a LeBron piece belongs alongside the rest.

"I actually went online and did a search on the internet after the auction. I just said, 'What's the most important basketball statistic?' It's scoring," Kohler said. "All-time scoring."

To Kohler, LeBron has done more than enough to earn a spot in the shrine

"When the superstars and Hall of Famers or future Hall of Famers become part of the team, I'm going to collect them," Kohler said. LeBron's won championships in Miami and Cleveland. ... I understand that — but he's also won a championship with the Lakers. He's going to probably retire a Laker, they're going to retire his number. ... So that goes into all this even though he didn't play 20 years on the Lakers like Kobe Bryant for his whole career."

But Kohler acknowledges it's more than just a Lakers piece, it's a relic of sports history.

"It's a record in the whole league. The sport that's one of the most popular sports in the world ... This is the basket," Kohler said. "If I could ever get LeBron to sign, that would be amazing. That would be cool."

Kohler's collecting philosophy will sound familiar to many — even those who aren't operating at the high ends of the memorabilia market.

"For me, it's always, is it something that really resonates with me? Does it make sense in the collection? Is it something different?"

In this case, Kohler was able to check off all three boxes with ease.

Kohler didn't buy the piece as an investment play, it's meant for a long life in his museum. But that doesn't mean he isn't thinking about the value long-term.

"It's a lot of money, but I feel that to the right person, it's worth a lot more, not that I bought it for that reason," Kohler said. "But, you know, just down the line."

Driving home the significance of the piece to the broader basketball world, Kohler noted how easy it is to explain the rim's importance to nearly anyone with an interest in basketball:

"If you had a basketball fan, and you said, that's, that's 38,388, that's the all-time scoring record. That's where the ball went through," Kohler said, his excitement palpable.

He spoke of the famous photo of LeBron hitting the record-setting shot, prominently featuring Kohler's rim in the background. Kohler's certain of its cultural relevance far beyond the Lakers, or even the NBA.

The rim's inclusion in the Lakers Shrine is yet another notch on Kohler's belt as the world's foremost Lakers collector.

Magic Johnson visited Kohler and his wife at the collector's legendary Laker Shrine. (Courtesy of David Kohler)
Magic Johnson visited Kohler and his wife at the collector's legendary Laker Shrine. (Courtesy of David Kohler)

Though, he's already received all the recognition you could want.

The first time Magic visited the Shrine, his jaw dropped.

"Oh my god. I had no idea," the legend said.

As for West's first visit and initial reaction — "how do find all the time to find this crap?" — Kohler was gutted. His hero had just walked into his inner sanctum and immediately taunted him.

"It just like literally just buried me." Kohler said. "And then within five minutes, he's like, I got to bring my family here. Can I bring my boys here? They have to see this."

Kohler took West on the grand tour, showing him the sneakers worn by West and Chamberlain during the team's 1972 NBA championship.

West immediately knew something was up.

"I gave them to ballboy after the game."

Kohler nodded.

"Yeah, I know. That's who I got it from."

Will Stern is a reporter and editor for cllct. You can follow him on X at @Will__Stern.