11 Year Old Me Is Smiling – Opening 1997-98 Collector’s Choice

Anyone remember those repack boxes with a bunch of random packs you could get for $10, $15, or $20? The packs on the outside were the appealing ones, the Ultra, the Stadium Club, the Fleer Mystique. And once you got past the packs on the outside, there were ones like Topps, maybe even Topps Tipoff, and packs like Collector’s Choice. The ones you opened first to save the best for last.

Well I’m here to tell you that when you can’t get your hands on a pack of the latest and greatest, or even the latest and greatest from 20 years ago, you find you appreciate the packs that used to be hidden away a little bit more. I scanned every card in this 14 card pack of 1997-98 Collector’s Choice Series One, and I had fun doing it, too.

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I liked many things about opening this pack. The first was the jerseys. On the first row we’ve got some classics, starting with Mookie Blaylock in an awesome Hawks jersey. The Warriors jersey that pre-Bulls Scott Burrell is sporting makes me think of the Hardaway/Richmond/Mullin teams from the early 90s. And what does that Cavs jersey that Danny Ferry wears make you think of? For me it’s the middle of the pack-ness of the 90s Cavs teams, despite having some pretty solid guys like Mark Price, Terrell Brandon and Tyrone Hill.

The backs on these cards are all horizontal from what I can tell. At least all the base cards from my pack are. Look at the size difference between the 6-7 Burrell catching up with his former teammate, the 5-3 Muggsy. Notice the NBA at 50 logo on the side of that Hornets warm-up jacket. Did not realize Burrell was a first-round MLB pick, either. How many other players were taken in the first round of both the NBA and MLB drafts? After doing a quick search, I can’t find any.

Will Perdue had the honor of playing with some all-time greats for the Bulls, Spurs, and Blazers briefly at the end of his career. And again going back to the jerseys, who doesn’t love the big grizzly bear on Big Country’s shorts? And those Raptors jerseys are all-time great. Same for the Sonics. Sam Perkins was a steady solid performer over his long NBA career. I remember him most for his role on the 1999-00 Pacers team that made the NBA Finals. Towards the end of his career he turned into a stretch 5 who could really shoot the 3-ball. His best percentage from 3 was that 1999-00 season when he shot over 40%.

Look at the warm-ups for Perdue here- classic. And what is in his lap here? I really appreciate that the back of these cards have 1) Different photos than the front, and solid ones at that, often times pre-game or sideline shots 2) Writeups and stats 3) Little known facts

Popeye is now an assistant with the Nuggets. Wonder if he’ll get a shot at a head coaching job someday. Cool above the rim shot on this one.

Big Smooth really started to knock down the 3s at a good rate and by the 96-97 season it was something he was becoming known for. Ahead of his time in that regard, I would say.

This Chris Carr showed up twice in the same pack.

Here he is with a young KG. Did not recall that Carr was in the slam dunk contest. And again, going back to the jerseys, I had a Marbury TWolves jersey like these as a kid. It’s now hanging in my 4 year old’s room. He, like I did as a kid, is a fan of jerseys, any kind really.

While the Pacers have always been my team, I’m regionally aligned somewhat with the Hornets. And because of that I had an appreciation for certain Hornets squads from the late 90s that David Wesley was a part of. Here you see a subtle example of a ‘Signed By’ note. It doesn’t take away from the rest of the card in any way here. It’s a nice element. And there’s that Cavs jersey again, this time with a nice part of the Cavaliers court.

Now we’re talking. Sweet subset, and of course I love seeing my Pacers show up in a pack. This one I’m very familiar with, but I’ll never pass up a pack-pulled card featuring Reggie Miller. There’s Erick Dampier on the right of that huddle, the 10th pick in the loaded 96 draft. Dampier did have a long, solid NBA career, just only one of those was with the Pacers. He was part of a trade that brought back Chris Mullin, so no complaints here.

What’s a Collector’s Choice pack without a card from an MJ subset? The subset has 10 cards, each featuring a different element of MJ’s game.

If I’m going to pull a 90s Pacers card, why not one of Reggie Miller’s nemesis, John Starks? These StarQuest inserts are one per pack and there are 180 of these between Series 1 and Series 2. Would be a long road to complete a set of these, and when you start getting into multiple star cards, they can get pretty pricey. One thing I do like is the StarQuest cards provide a way to place to get an insert card of guys who just don’t have many inserts. For example, the Pacers have StarQuest cards of Dale Davis, Mark Jackson, Reggie Miller, Rik Smits, Antonio Davis. Other than Reggie, the other guys don’t have too many insert set appearances.

Let’s finish this one out with the Stick-Um of MJ. Today I wouldn’t dare take the sticker off. But 11 year old me? Let’s put that thing on a backpack, a notebook, something I can take with me. Although I eventually became a Pacers fan in the mid-90s, I loved watching MJ like most kids. This would have been an awesome pack.

What is your favorite 90s NBA jersey? A couple shown in cards from this pack are pretty memorable ones for me. I want to hear from you.

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