The 2014 NBA Playoffs are well underway. As basketball fandom and fever hits a frenzy, here is a look back at some of the craziest and most random basketball cards throughout the years.
Tis the Season
Through the years, sport cards have become a thing for collectors but so many people got their first exposure to card collecting in their childhood. No doubt, the Christmas season, right in the heart of basketball season, is a great time for a kid to receive new cards for their collection.
Back in the 1990s, you would get the occasional card such as Upper Deck’s Shawn Kemp card here.
Shawn Kemp Claus makes just as many trips around the world as Santa and that is solely just to see his own children.
In recent years, Upper Deck had a mini-set which has become a real favorite of mine. With the much anticipated rookie class of 2007 entering the league, Upper Deck developed a special “rack pack” for Wal-Mart. These larger packs of cards each had one rookie card featured in the back of the pack, with a rookie in a Santa Claus hat.
Here’s an example of the Rookie of the Year from said draft class, Kevin Durant:
My first one of these was actually when I went to a card show to meet baseball legend Carlton Fisk. I was looking at some basketball cards and saw one in the discount bin. Who was it? Javaris Crittenton. Figured it wasn’t too often you could buy a card of a murderer in the holiday spirit.
Obtaining autographs at NBA games, I love throwing these out and getting the reactions of the players. So far I’ve hit Aaron Brooks, Corey Brewer, Jason Smith, Jared Dudley, Jeff Green but my very favorite was signed at the end of the regular season this year.
BIG BABY CLAUS
Getting All Artsy on Me
The 1994-95 Fleer Pro Vision set had some crazy mid-nineties art going. Most of these were players like Chris Webber or Derrick Coleman dunking through the Cosmos. You did have “Thunder” Dan Majerle of the Phoenix Suns navigating through a desert thunder storm, complete with vulture. John Starks, of the Knicks, was for some reason surrounded by rainbows and butterflies. Jamal Mashburn was dribbling through a giant chess board.
Unfortunately for us, the Rooks of the board were not his teammate Sean… My absolute favorite?
Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. The member of the Magic was using his disappearing act and turning the basketball into a penny. I can’t look at this image without thinking how wonderful it would look tattooed across my entire back.
Fleer was no stranger to the art card. I will let the previous year’s Hakeem Olajuwon release speak for itself:
Upper Deck used to also throw in art cards of Team Leaders through their sets. So sometimes you got the real interesting ones.
A good friend of mine pointed out that some artist was commissioned for not one but two illustrations of Frank Brickowski. Eat my shorts, Picasso.
So Upper Deck is Simply the Best
Keep noticing a trend? That Upper Deck keeps appearing?
I don’t know who headed their art department but in putting together this article, I’ve discovered I love them.
Picking up a few cards from the set, I realized that the 1996-97 Upper Deck set had some delightfully random cards. Such as Steve Nash’s rookie card:
THIS IS HOW YOU PLAY BASKETBALL IN CANADA, OBVIOUSLY
But how does his sharpshooting teammate Wesley Person stay so cool in the desert?
Remember journeyman point guard Elliot Perry? His nickname was Socks, due to the extremely high socks he wore during his stays with the Clippers, Hornets, Suns and Bucks. How does Upper Deck want to portray a basketball card of Elliot Pery?
Let’s stick a career backup point guard in a bathtub full of socks. Perfect.
This set in 1996-97 seems to be consistently great but Upper Deck doesn’t disappoint in other years. I couldn’t find a clear picture but 1997-98’s Matt Bullard card is a triumph. Meeting Bullard at NBA games in the past, the guy has joked himself about the fact he even has cards. Before I see him again, I need to get this card. For some reason, Matt Bullard is surrounded by more famous Rockets teammates – Clyde Drexler, Eddie Johnson and Mario Elie. While they sit around Bullard, in Matt’s lap is inexplicably one of those garbage bags made to look like a Jack-O-Lantern for people to store their fall leaves in.
Thanks for taking the time to sit and look at this collection of delightfully random basketball cards. Now that you are done reading, I hope you all can be like Dickey Simpkins and go back to Chillin’.