Tim Duncan is my favorite non-Pacer of all time, and probably my second favorite player behind Reggie Miller. It’s weird not being able to watch Duncan play this season. In my book he goes down as the greatest power forward in the history of the game. So much has already been said about Duncan, so I will get down to the cards. These aren’t necessarily the most valuable cards in my collection, although some of them may fall into that space. They are just my favorites. They break down into four categories.
Category 1: The Rookies
1997-98 Metal Universe #66 and 1997-98 Metal Universe Championship #72
I’m starting the list by breaking the rules with counting two cards as one, but I just couldn’t choose one over the other and I wanted nine other spots. Try to find cooler base sets than these two.
1997-98 E-X 2001 #75
This certainly was a great year for basketball cards, wasn’t it? I remember opening a few packs of these and pulling a Patrick Ewing. Even though he was on the hated Knicks I was still in love with the card and design. I probably don’t have that card anymore but it sure was a thrill for an 11 year old to open packs of this stuff.
1997-98 Topps Chrome #115
The most recognizable of Duncan’s rookie cards, along with probably his SP Authentic rookie. While I never added a refractor version to my collection, his Chrome rookie has to fit somewhere in my top 10. The back of this one asks what makes a star. Is it scoring? Rebounding? Defense? Consistency? Heart? Duncan has all of these. A good quote too from Dave Odom, Duncan’s coach at Wake Forest on the back.
1997-98 SP Authentic #165
Duncan throwing down a jam with future teammate and current Warriors coach Steve Kerr watching. Part of what makes this a cool card is it was the first year with the full SP Authentic named set. The previous year obviously had a great rookie class and some key rookie cards in the SP set with Kobe being the top card, but 1997-98 was the first SP Authentic set. This set the stage for 1998-99 which I remember as being a hot set with Vince Carter’s rookie being the most sought after at the time.
Category 2: The Rookie Year Inserts
1997-98 Skybox Premium Next Game #7
Looks like the modern Court Kings sets. Just always liked the look of this set and Duncan going for the lay-in makes for a great card. Always blows my mind that the Spurs landed Duncan in the first place because of Robinson’s injury.
1997-98 Ultra Heir To The Throne #7
Don’t have a great reason for picking this except he is sitting on a throne of basketballs! What a design for an insert set.
1997-98 Z-Force Big Men On Court #4
This one has to rate up there in terms of value. I’m fairly sure one of my friends traded it to me in the early 2000s and I’m sure I got the best of whatever trade we made. I’m trying to reacquaint myself with the basketball card hobby, and what I’m noticing is if the insert set was redone in the Upper Deck Retro set, then the original set is probably pretty highly sought after these days.
Category 3: Other Inserts
1998-99 Skybox Premium Jam Pack #15
This is the first insert I pulled of Duncan from a pack, and I’ve held onto it for a long time. For this reason alone it makes the list. It’s also an interesting design that hasn’t been close to replicated, with a shiny pick background of water, rocky shorelines, and sky.
Category 4: Relics
2003-04 Fleer Genuine Insider Team USA #TU-TD
I can’t put enough Team USA cards into my collection. In fact there are some insert sets I’d like to put together from some other sets around this time focused on Team USA. One is an insert set from Fleer Avant, if I remember right. I picked this up right before I closed up shop on the blog in 2012, but it still cracks my top 10.
2007-08 Stadium Club Beam Team Relic #BTR-TD
Hard to go wrong putting a Beam Team insert into a top 10 list. Add a relic to the mix and it was hard to omit this one from this post. It’s a plain black swatch but it doesn’t bother me.
So there you have it. Notice no autographs in this list. Haven’t added one of those to my collection yet, but would like to if the price is right. I plan to share more of my Duncan collection in future posts, and I need to get a wantlist up. Don’t have most of his newer cards and want to see which inserts from the 1990s and early 2000s I am missing.