Lyle and Erik Menendez killed their parents in their Beverly Hills mansion on Aug. 20, 1989, but weren’t arrested until March 1990. In between, they went on a lavish spending spree. Erik, who had showed promise as a junior tennis player, spent $60,000 on a coach and competed in tournaments in the Middle East. Lyle, meanwhile, traveled back to Princeton, N.J., where he had attended college at that town’s Ivy League school. He purchased a popular student restaurant in Princeton, Chuck’s Spring Street Cafe, for $550,000 and renamed it Mr. Buffalo’s, while also taking shopping trips to New York accompanied by a team of bodyguards.
And at some point between the murders and their arrests, the Menendez brothers apparently acquired front-row tickets to watch Mark Jackson and the New York Knicks play at Madison Square Garden during the 1989-90 season. We know this because two men who bear a more-than-passing resemblance to the notorious killers ended up in the background of Jackson’s 1990-91 Hoops basketball card, which features a photo taken from the previous season.
This truly odd coincidence was first noticed by redditor Pirate_Redbeard and brought to wider attention by John Rosenberger on Twitter.
To further nail down the timeline, notice the black ribbon across the left shoulder of Jackson’s uniform. The Knicks wore the ribbons on their uniforms during the 1989-90 season in memory of longtime public-address announcer John Condon, who passed away weeks before the season began.
As a comparison, here are the Menendez brothers at one of their trials, which took place years after the murders:
Under normal circumstances, a basketball card for a player of Jackson’s caliber and fame — he was named an all-star just once in his 17-year NBA career — wouldn’t fetch all that much on the collectibles market: A 2008 Tuff Stuff basketball card price guide set the value for the 1990-91 Jackson Hoops card at either 5 or 10 cents, depending on whether you consider him a “common player” or a “minor star,” and one can purchase an entire box of 36 unopened packs from the 1990-91 Hoops set for $12 on eBay. But the apparent presence of the Menendez brothers on the card has caused its value to spike. Even though the Action Network’s Darren Rovell reported Monday night that eBay has started to take down the listings for the card because it does not allow items that are “affiliated with” murderers to be sold, a number of the cards still were being offered on Tuesday morning, with prices starting at 99 cents and rising steadily from there, with one seller offering a lot of 30 for $344.
Police arrested the Menendez brothers on suspicion of murder in March 1990 after getting a tip from the mistress of their therapist, who said she had overheard the brothers confess to the slayings during a session. They were not indicted on the charges until December 1992, following a lengthy court battle over the admissibility of the recorded therapy sessions. Initially tried separately, both initial juries could not reach verdicts, resulting in mistrials. Retried together, the two were found guilty of first-degree murder in April 1996, nearly seven years after the slayings of their parents, and in July of that year a judge sentenced them to life in prison without the possibility of parole. They were imprisoned in separate facilities until this year, when Lyle Menendez was transferred to the same California prison that housed his brother.
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