The Court is Their Checker Board – 1996-97 Ultra Board Game

First off, 1996-97 Ultra is an iconic set in the 90s in my mind, for several reasons. The draft class is phenomenal, the set is condition sensitive, has tough to find parallels, and the inserts are great (see All-Rookie, Court Masters, Scoring Kings, the list goes on). I opened a few packs of this set in my childhood, and I remember specifically a Shareef Adbur-Rahim rookie that is likely hidden in my collection somewhere.

Part of the fun I am having in the hobby right now is going back and revisiting insert sets that I don’t remember seeing then. Board Game from 1996-97 Ultra is one of those sets. Board Game was inserted into Series 2 packs. The main rookies were in Series 1, which explains why I don’t remember this insert set.

All these jerseys go with the checkered background reasonably well, especially the Clyde. The Hill and Webber don’t truly match the background, but who says they have to? Today we have all different color refractors/prizms, most of which don’t go with the team’s color at all. What if they made a ‘Team’ prizm that matched the jersey’s color scheme. If this exists already, please fill me in.

While the background looks like a checker board, this set is actually around the game’s best rebounders. It speaks to the all-around games of Grant Hill and Clyde Drexler that they are included in such a set. And on theme, each of these guys appear to be either gathering a board and looking for an outlet after a rebound. Nice work, Fleer!

I like the backs of these just as much, if not more than the front. Here the checkered pattern does go with the team’s colors. And these backs kind of have a Studio type look. You’ll notice some of these insert sets I’m revisiting include Grant Hill. I think he is underappreciated as a 90s star and I enjoy grabbing his cards.

The Bullets/Wizards were the ‘local’ team for me growing up in Virginia. The Juwan Howard/Webber/Muresan trio was a common sight in our household. It was disappointing to see Webber thrive in Sacramento while the Wizards had a past-his-prime Mitch Richmond. But, it flashes me back to my childhood seeing a Bullets/Wizards Webber.

And when Clyde joined Hakeem in Houston, and Barkley then joined the year after, I’ll just say I’d imagine it was fun to be a Rockets fan in the mid-90s. Championships during Jordan retirements and then getting those stars to cheer for, with those awesome Rockets uniforms on top of that? I remember cutting out newspaper writeups of those 1997 Western Conference Finals games with the Utah Jazz. Speaking of, I think I’ll go and watch one of those games of those three playing together. Anyway, Clyde had another well-rounded game, and he fits the Board Game set criteria with those stellar for a 2-guard rebounding stats.

Who else is in this set? Jason Kidd, a triple-double legend, the lone point guard in the set. Jordan of course, by far the priciest card from this set. And the Bulls uniform goes perfectly with the checker board background, as you’d expect. The others are 90s big men you’d expect to see. Mutombo, David Robinson, Mourning, Hakeem, Shawn Kemp, Karl Malone, Shaq, Ewing, Rodman, Barkley, Pippen, and then a few guys you might not expect to be in a 90s insert set- Loy Vaught, Vin Baker, Jayson Williams, and… Indiana Pacer Dale Davis, a guy who made his career on rebounding and toughness.

When you think of rebounders, who do you think of as having the best board game? Who would be in an insert set of rebounders today?

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