When I reached high school my trading card collecting days were essentially over. During my freshman year I came upon the ingenious of idea of trying to sell some of my old cards to my classmates. Now I grew up in a nice area but high school students aren’t exactly walking around with wads of cash unless they were dealers and they weren’t exactly a target market for trading cards. Largely my endeavor was doomed to fail but I do recall an almost sale that involved a Shawn Kemp rookie card. I had mentioned to one of my classmates, I think it was an art class, that I had a Kemp rookie card and this piqued their interest. Once I showed him the card his reaction was “Oh, it’s just an NBA Hoops card.”
In 1989 the only mass produced basketball card you could get was by Fleer. Even with the huge growth in popularity of the NBA during the 1980’s there simply wasn’t a whole lot of interest in basketball cards. The NBA decided to try to rectify this by making their own cards but league produced cards were just never sought after sets, NFL Pro Set being another, and really don’t hold much value. Just as an example of the sets lack of cache a Michael Jordan 89-90 Fleer card has a value of $12 while his Hoops card from the same year is worth only $3. You know a set doesn’t have much to it when the selling point on the pack is “Look For Orlando & Minnesota Expansion Teams!” because everyone knows expansion teams get the best players.
That being said there was a lot of buzz around this set in 1989 because it had what at the time was a rare occurrence, the rookie card of a player that was produced during his rookie year, that being the rookie card of David Robinson . Up until then rookie cards for players typically didn’t come out until after their first professional season. I can’t remember what a Robinson rookie card was going for at the time but I did remember it being a red hot, must have card at the time. While I’m sure it sold for ridiculous amounts in 1989/90 today it holds a value of $12. Hopefully no one thought they were putting their kid through college by holding on to that card.
This pack though, with the exception of one card, was indeed worthless. This wasn’t a “Who’s Who?” of the NBA it was a “Who Cares?”
Forever known as the guy who won the Slam Dunk contest after Michael Jordan didn’t want to participate anymore, Walker finished 3rd in the ’90 contest.
Thompson had to step in as the Lakers starting center after the retirement of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He was already nearing retirement himself at age 35 and split a lot of time with rookie Vlade Divac.
How weak is this pack? A coach card is the second most valuable card in the pack, albeit a great one.
Ellis scored a career high 53 points in a quadruple overtime classic against the Bucks early in the season (box score). In January while driving drunk he’d crash his Mercedes, suffering three broken ribs and a collapsed lung causing him to miss two months of action.
This was Person’s fourth year in the league and the first time he didn’t lead the Pacers in scoring as Reggie Miller had a breakout year.
Former #5 overall pick and lifetime stiff, Koncak’s lasting contribution to the NBA happened before the season when he signed a shocking 6 year, $13.1 million contract which at the time made him one of the highest paid players in the league. It’s viewed as one of the worst contracts in league history and forever saddled him with the nickname “Jon Contract”.
One of the notes on the back of Wolf’s card is “Good shooter”. He shot 39.5% in the 1989-90 season.
Kite signed with the Kings after the season started. In January against the Blazers he made the only three pointer of his career (box score).
Brickowski lost his starting job as the Spurs center after David Robinson joined the team. Note on the back of his card “Good friends with Charlie Sheen and aspires to be an actor someday”. Sadly we have not been blessed with a Brickowski/Sheen buddy comedy to date.
One of only ten cards in the set that crack the $1 barrier so I suppose I really scored here. Although he didn’t become a regular starter for the Pistons until mid-season he still would win the first of back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards. He also lead the league in Effective FG Pct. and Offensive Rebounding Pct.
Nance was still a good player but this was at the time his worst season since his rookie year. He missed the first month of the season after off-season ankle surgery.
Check out the Pat Riley hair on Ortiz. He was the Jazz #15 overall pick in 1987 and is a Puerto Rican basketball legend but he didn’t last long in the NBA as he would be waived in February.
Krystkowiak had his one productive year in the league during the prior season but he blew out his knee during the playoffs and didn’t play again until mid-March of 1990.
Turner had played the prior two seasons in Italy before signing with the expansion Magic.
Interesting thing about this card is Johnson never played a regular season game for the Magic as he’d be cut before the season started. He had been the last pick of the expansion draft a few months earlier.
Next Week: Return to baseball and the start of a three week theme with similar packs for football and basketball after that. Also, I will make a shocking confession!