In January 2014, Christian Laettner's jersey from "The Shot" was sold by Lelands.com for $119,500, after being put up for auction by the man who'd been given the jersey by Laettner himself in 1992. At the time, the buyer's identity wasn't revealed. But today, on the 25th anniversary of Laettner's turnaround buzzer-beater, that buyer, Heath Freeman, sat down with us to talk about why he bought it and his connection to the moment.
Darren Rovell: If you watched this shot live, you know exactly where you were at the time. Where were you?
Heath Freeman: I was standing up in my living room and running around in my house in Short Hills, New Jersey. I was 12 years old. I was a huge Duke fan, and I was watching the game with my mom, who also loved Duke.
(Heath's sister Amanda has said that Laettner's shot sealed it for her: She started her collegiate career at Duke the following fall.)
DR: Between then and now, what has been your connection with Duke or Laettner?
HF: I went to Duke from 1998 to 2002. I was a walk-on kicker for the football team. I didn't get introduced to Laettner until I bought the jersey. The people at Duke introduced us and we've become friends.
DR: That's pretty cool.
Heath: Yeah, we talk over e-mail and text. I sent him a note last night. I think he appreciated that his jersey from this game is in the hands of someone that appreciates it. One of the reasons I wanted to talk is I think Christian sometimes gets a bad rap, and if you get to know him he's a great person.
DR: You paid $119,500 for the jersey, which at the time was the second-highest price paid for a basketball jersey, only surpassed by a Dr. J Virginia Squires jersey. A Michael Jordan playoff jersey recently sold for $171,000, so now it's in the No. 3 spot. How did you figure out how much you'd be willing to pay going into the auction?
HF: It's the jersey worn by the player who made the game-winning shot in arguably the No. 1 game in college basketball history. It's iconic. In my research, I found that these things don't often surface, so I never fathomed that I'd have the opportunity to own this. This is a one-of-a-kind jersey. It's the equivalent of rare art to a former athlete.
DR: At the time, did you have other pieces of sports memorabilia?
HF: I collected cards but had and have nothing else.
DR: When you bought it, who did you share it with?
HF: I had it in my office for a while [Freeman works as the managing director of hedge fund Alden Global Capital in New York City]. The most meaningful people weren't the people who I went on to go to school with at Duke. It was actually my childhood friends. We all tried to redo that shot in our driveways.
DR: Where is the jersey now?
HF: I lent it to Duke this fall leading up to the 25th anniversary of the shot. It's at Cameron Indoor now.