Interested in seeing art and basketball cards intertwined? @marbury3collector on Instagram collects Stephon Marbury and is working on series of abstract art pieces featuring cards from his impressive card collection. The combination of the Marbury cards and the color coordinated backgrounds is stunning. I reached out to marbury3collector to get some background and find out more.
Hoops Hobby (HH): How did you get started collecting basketball cards? Could you give us an overview of your collecting history?
marbury3collector (MC): I got started collecting around 1992, Shaq’s rookie year. My family would visit my first cousin’s house a few times a year and he had shoe boxes of Upper Deck commons. He gave me those cards and I was hooked. I studied all the player stats, their physical attributes, positions, colleges, draft positions, etc. I fell in love with how cool the players looked. What sneakers they were wearing, the colors of their jerseys, stuff that would appeal to a 6-7 year older. From there I used to buy Drakes cup cakes for the pack of 92 Fleer that came in them. Fast forward a few years to the ’96 draft. I saved up every single dollar to get packs. That was the year when inserts kicked it up a notch in terms of designs. There was no better feeling than pulling a rare insert out of a single pack.
HH: What led you to collect Stephon Marbury?
MC: It seems really random that someone would collect Stephon Marbury in 2021. Just like today, we would prospect on young up and coming players back then. Marbury was my guy. He is from my city so I was made aware of him from his high school days on local news channels. In college he was absolutely killing it. He was drafted to the Timberwolves and that was the year they changed their jersey to that new aggressive street art type font style and the wolf. He just looked so cool in that jersey along with the cut in his hair. Remember, I’m speaking through the lens of a 10 year old kid. I think at that age we are very impressionable to the players appearance. “Court swag” and their play style plays a big part in who we root for. That was also the beginning of the street ball era. He was the face of the And1 movement which was the coolest thing in the world. He was a regular in the Rucker Park league. Being from NYC, I was a street ball junky. Some players would go play like 1 game at the Rucker, he was playing and competing for championships in the E.B.C. league yearly. He felt like a true baller to me and a relatable person. We never fully respected a player until they played at the Rucker. As far as cards go, he came in at the right time. There weren’t many inserts that he was not a part of in the 90s. That’s my favorite thing to collect and it makes collecting him that much more enjoyable. Prior to eBay, collecting meant a group of friends or associates from the neighborhood had to trade with each other. We all picked different players to collect and root for. It made trading a lot easier.
HH: Can you talk about your background with abstract art? What is 120 Nights and what gave you the idea to start incorporating paintings into your Instagram card posts?
MC: I’m a designer by trade. I like to pride myself on the originality of my work in a industry that just copies each other. In the pursuit of inspiration, I would would leave no stone unturned. I would go to museums, art shows, furniture stores, take pictures of buildings, store displays, you name it. In the process, I really got to familiarize myself with what was going on in the art world and I took a liking towards it. I started painting in 2012. I wasn’t good but it felt therapeutic. It gave me an outlet as a creator to create daily. I’d often tie in elements from my art into the display of my products. I didn’t get “good” until late 2016-2017 as far as art goes but the countless hours painting garbage paintings let me find my style and taught me what parts of a painting I should probably keep and what parts I should continue to work on. My style is inspired by street art mixed with an abstract element. I paint with my hands. I almost never use brushed. I like the raw look it gives my art and allows me to get a better feeling of the painting.
“56 nights” was my first series of paintings that I made. I started and finished a 8×10” acrylic painting in 24 hours for 56 nights straight. It started off as an exercise to get me to paint daily. To my surprise, it sold out. I may have 1-2 of the paintings left but I was shocked at anyone not named “mom” would buy anything I made. That gave me the confidence to get my art out there and take it seriously. I would later work on larger paintings, experiment with oil paints, do art shows, get commissions and just take it seriously.
Around 2019, life happened. I moved to NJ and just got into a rut artistically. I didn’t want to paint and had no more room. I’m still paying storage for a lot of paintings, art supplies among other things. I was in a nice groove, making and selling art and I just got sidetracked. The pandemic didn’t help either. I had to get out of there and I moved to Florida. My inspiration to paint is now back. I knew I wanted to do a similar series as my original but with 90s cards being the focal point of the designs. When coming up with a number, I settled on “120” as that would be 4 months and a little more than double of the original 56 that I did. I never wanted to force my art down people’s throats especially on my “get-away” page, my card page. Card art in general has become more accepted these days so I figured it would give me the opportunity to re-image some of the cards that inspired me to collect again in the first place.
HH: You’ve been posting cards from your Marbury collection on your Instagram account since February 2019. With the basketball card market surging the last few years, have you noticed anything specific to Marbury cards?
MC: I like that you mentioned that. I stopped collecting Marbury around 1999 and cards in general around 2001. I was lucky enough to be able to come back to the hobby and put together my collection in a short period of time. I say that as an inspiration to any new-old collectors that feel they may have missed the boat. I definitely felt that way but with persistence, you will be able to find a lot of the cards you are after. It just takes time and some cases money (that you may not have). Don’t over extend yourself too much in the pursuit of a card. After all, it’s just a hobby. You don’t win anything besides a few likes on Instagram. If it’s something you can afford, by all means, go for it. Just cut down on the random $5-$10 cards that you would normally get for a few weeks/months and you will be able to put yourself in a better position for a bigger card. Easier said than done. To answer your question, prices definitely went up for rare key sets by a lot. In general, it stayed roughly the same for my player. I’m happy about that. I don’t plan to sell anything other than some doubles so I would prefer that the prices stay cheap.
HH: What’s your primary method for acquiring Marbury cards? Has your Instagram account allowed you to pick up some cards you might not have found otherwise?
MC: I don’t use any non conventional methods, just eBay for the most part. My account has helped me make a lot of friends, some I’d consider friends in real life. This hobby and our love for it has helped me connect with people that I would normally not know existed. Many people have given me free cards without asking for anything in return or just great deals as they feel that a certain card belongs in a collectors PC. I try to return the favor and do so to other random collectors to keep that hobby karma alive.
HH: What’s the number one Marbury card on your want list right now?
MC: I’d love to answer that but I’m currently in a big payment plan for a few grails of mine. The last thing I need is more temptations to overextend myself some more with a PMG (laugh).
HH: Any specific cards you’ve had a hard time tracking down or that took you a long time to pick up?
MC: There are collectors that never stopped collecting. I’ve been player collecting for 2.5 years so my struggles would be laughable to them. Some of these guys I chat with have waited 10-20 years for a card to pop up. I really can’t complain at all. I’ve been very fortunate in terms of being able to track down certain cards and acquiring them. A lot of the cards I am missing, I’ve had opportunities at. I just couldn’t justify the price at the time or afford it.
HH: Card themselves and the set designs are works of art. Any set designs that stand out to you?
MC: Arena Designs made too many classics to name. Just when you thought they couldn’t outdo their last work, they would. Jambalaya would be my favorite. You had to be there to fully get the hype around it but the card is beautiful enough to enjoy even without living it.
HH: What’s your favorite piece from 120 Nights so far?
MC: I’m on painting 50 as I write this. I don’t currently have a favorite but a few that I like the best are #2 (HH note: 1997-98 Ultra Platinum Medallion Marbury), 5 (HH note: 1997-98 Stadium Club Triumvirate Illuminator) , 8, 15, 16, 27, 32. Some of the ones I don’t like very much are favorites to some of my followers. It’s always interesting to see which ones other people like. For instance, I really don’t like #6 (HH note- 1996-97 Bowman’s Best Atomic Refractor RC) all that much but a handful of people keep asking me when that one will go up for sale. In my head, I’m thinking “good thing I didn’t scrap this one.”
HH: With Marbury concluding his NBA career in 2009, who do you pull for now?
MC: I’d like to think 2008 and 09 didn’t exist for him (laugh). I root for the Knicks but I’m a fan of the game in general. I love Luka, Kawhi, Kyrie, Ja Morant, but I don’t collect any new players. I’ll pick up packs from Target when I can find any. Target retail got me back into cards.
HH: Any advice to player collectors out there?
MC: Just be patient. The journey is the fun part. Once you have everything, it’s not as fun. Go for the big card when possible. Learn to budget and leverage other cards to get you closer to your goal.
HH: Anything else that you would like to share with Hoops Hobby readers?
HH: Be sure to check out marbury3collector on Instagram- just incredible posts. And I very much appreciate the time it took to answer all of my questions. This is one of my favorite posts on the blog so far, and I hope to continue doing these types of posts in the future.