I find myself over and over again being drawn to card designs that look like older cards, the Heritage products, the Retros, the current players on throwback designs, so it’s no surprise that I am a fan of the 1997-98 Fleer Goudey Greats insert set. These are inserted in 1:4 series 2 packs, they are reasonably priced, and they look good and look and feel like vintage cards. They’re also some of the only non-standard cards as far as size. They are the same width as normal cards, but not as tall.
What makes this unique is it’s the only basketball focused set to feature the Goudey name and the ‘Athlete says..’ phrase. This is a one year, standalone insert set, not repeated.
Of course the original Goudey sets were baseball, so it makes sense that the Goudey name would be used in more modern baseball releases. I’m definitely not versed in the history of baseball cards, but from some brief research, it looks like 2006 Fleer Tradition included a version with a similar design modeled after 1934 Goudey, and Upper Deck in 2008, featuring Ken Griffey Jr. and Derek Jeter as the quoted stars. In the 1997-98 basketball set it’s Tiny Archibald, a recent inclusion on the NBA 75th Anniversary team.
Some of the background colors fit with the players better than others. The backgrounds on the cards on this first row fit pretty well with the jerseys.
The checklist has a mix of young stars (Marbury, Ray Allen, Antoine Walker), and all-stars with more experience (Robinson, Ewing, Shaq, Pippen, Stockton, etc…). It’s a solid checklist of 15 players you’d expect to see in the 90s, outside of Kobe and Jordan.
The back features a quote from Tiny, which if these in fact came from Tiny, is pretty cool. Reading through them all, it gives you a sense of where certain teams were at the time, and where these players ranked in the hierarchy of players at the time, and the outlook for the future.
I particularly like the quotes on Grant Hill and Stephon Marbury. Hill is one the ultimate NBA what-ifs, as far as his health. High praise for Marbury, being listed as the best passer since Jerry West.
Circling back to the look and feel of these cards, I just continue to miss seeing current players on throwback card designs, something that’s really missing during this Panini era of cards. It’s tough to see it happening so much with Topps and baseball, almost to an overwhelming degree in that sport, where we don’t have that history with the Panini brand. It’s one thing I’m very much looking forward to with Fanatics and Topps coming back into the fold. More basketball Heritage sets, please! Archives, please. Give me all of it. For now, I can enjoy looking at the UD Retros, the few basketball Heritage sets, and insert sets like these, that remind me of the stars I grew up watching. The Greats.