Wednesday Wax: 2002-03 Fleer Hot Shots


The Set:
2002-03 Fleer Hot Shots
24 packs per box, 8 cards per pack
Base set contains 100 Basic cards, 29 Give and Go, 39 All-Stars
27 Rookie Hats-Off /350
6 Vince Carter Hats-Off /350
6 Rookies /350
Hot Hands Parallels /199, Rookies /99
Give and Go Dual Event/Game Used /50
All-Stars Triple Event/Game Used /25
Hot Shots 1:8 packs, Event Worn 1:30 packs
En Fuego 1:12 packs, Event Worn 1:44 packs
Net Burners 1:24 packs, Event Worn /100
Hot Numbers /350, Event Worn /50
Parallel Versions of Event Worn cards

Our Break:


Hot Hands Parallel (4): Grant Hill /199, Antoine Walker /199, Eric Snow and Keith Van Horn /199, John Salmons /99


Hot Shots (3): Yao Ming, Mike Dunleavy, Jared Jeffries


En Fuego (2): Vince Carter, Shaquille O’neal


Hot Numbers (1): Richard Jefferson


Net Burners (1): Steve Nash


Hot Shots Event Worn (1): Kareem Rush


 
Rookie Hats-Off /350 (3): Casey Jacobsen, John Salmons, Ronald Murray


Vince Carter Hats-Off /350 (1): Curtis Borchardt


En Fuego Event Worn (1): Karl Malone

Impressions:

A fun time for basketball breaks, to be sure.  The chase cards here are the Yao Ming rookie memorabilia cards, the All-Star Triple jerseys numbered to 25, as well as the other parallel memorabilia versions of the insert sets.

An excellent base set with lots of inserts, parallels and memorabilia cards in each box.  This is a 2000s box with a 90s feel.  It has two subsets. The Give and Go cards for the most part show a point guard or high assist man on the front with the finisher on the back.  The second subset contains participants in the previous year’s All-Star weekend, and by participants, I mean in the rookie-sophomore game, three-point contest, dunk contest, and All-Star game.  That’s why we have guys in there like Chris Mihm.

These cards have a glossy finish, more noticeable on the darker cards like some of the Rookie Hats-Off cards.  These memorabilia cards are condition sensitive, particularly on the corners.

Want to point out that the typical box will not contain 6 memorabilia cards.  The overall odds of pulling a memorabilia card are 1 in 8 packs, but this box contained a ‘hot pack’ with 4 memorabilia cards in the one pack (the 4 Rookie Hats-off cards).

Not sure how many redemption cards were inserted for this product, but we were lucky enough to avoid them.

Overall a blast to open, and it was certainly exciting to open a hot-pack, even if we didn’t hit any of the higher valued rookies such as Yao, Carlos Boozer, or the scarcer All-Star or Give and Go jerseys.  A product I wanted to open at the time it came out, and still a worthwhile break today.


Insert Set Flashback: 1997-98 Ultra Jam City


The Set:
1997-98 Ultra Jam City

Set Odds:
1 in 8 series 1 packs

Key Cards:
Kobe Bryant $8.00
Shaquille O’Neal $4.00
Kevin Garnett $3.00

Why I Like It:
Oh man, how to get started.  How sweet would a modern-day Jam City set be?  Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, LeBron, etc… highlighting a set of the league’s best dunkers?  Or a set with past slam-dunk champions?  The Jam City name had tons of potential.

The cartoon-y black and white background makes the color shot of the player jump off the card.  Putting some of the league’s arenas into the background would have been a nice touch.

One thing I found amusing from the cards above: How does Juwan have a pass into Jam City when the back of the card says that he likes to step out for 18-footers?  Howard could throw it down in his younger days, but at least mention that rather than his set-shot ability.


Pickup of the Week, 1999-00 Fleer Focus Feel the Game

The 1999-00 Fleer Feel the Game sets were some of the earliest basketball game used card sets released. The Fleer Focus versions inserted at just 1 in 288 packs.  At those odds, I am surprised that the Grant Hill card pictured above has a high book value of only $20.  These can be had at an affordable price, they just don’t show up that often.

Question – Today, most products guarantee at least one memorabilia card per box, most more than that.  How has your enjoyment of the hobby been impacted by the decreased rarity of memorabilia cards?


Insert Set Flashback: 2002-03 Hoops Stars Raising Up


The Set:
2002-03 Hoops Stars Raising Up

Set Odds:
1 in 5 packs

Key Cards:
Michael Jordan $10.00
Kobe Bryant $8.00
Yao Ming $5.00

Why I Like It:
Hoops stars was an exciting set for me to open. The rookie cards are short-printed but not impossible to collect, inserted at 1:4 packs.  Serial numbered parallel sets, game used versions of the inserts. To me this set had it all.  The draw for me was the variety and creativity in the inserts and the star players available in those sets.   All the insert sets have a nice glossy finish as well. Each has a blue parallel version.

Only complaint on this insert set is showing the same picture on both the front and back. Would have liked to have seen some variety. Still feel like creative sets such as these are what’s missing from today’s products.


Insert Set Flashback: 2002-03 Topps Tandems


The Set:
2002-03 Topps Tandems

Set Odds:
1 in 5 hobby packs, 1 in 10 retail packs

Key Cards:
Michael Jordan/Richard Hamilton $10.00
Shaquille O’Neal/Kobe Bryant $8.00

Why I Like It:
We’ve got some geometric shapes going on in this set’s background!  While not the most flashy, there’s something about this sharp, clean design that caught my eye going through an old binder.  Maybe it’s the giant text at the top starting with the Double Ts, or the shiny surface of the cards.

Some of my favorite scoring duos from the late 90s-early 2000s are featured here, such as Big Dog and Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker, the Rockets backcourt of Francis and Mobley.  The back of each card lists the top 10 scoring Duo’s from the previous season, serving as a checklist for the remaining cards.  I did notice a minor error on the Marbury/Marion card.  Typically only the players on the front of the card appear in bold on the back.  The Marbury/Marion also has Pierce and Walker in bold.  Minor, but something I easily missed the first time.


Wednesday Wax: 2000-01 Topps Reserve

The Set:
2000-01 Topps Reserve
10 packs per box, 5 cards per pack
Base set contains 100 base cards, 33 rookies
12 8×10 Autographed Canvas
21 All-Star Veteran Relics
15 All-Star Rookie Challenge Relics
1 PSA Graded rookie card included in each box

Our Break:
46/100 base set, 2 duplicates

Rookie Card /999 (1): Jamal Crawford


PSA Graded Rookie /999 (1): PSA 8 Craig ‘Speedy’ Claxton


All-Star Veteran Relic (1): Gary Payton


8×10 Autographed Canvas (1): Antawn Jamison

Impressions:

A unique set in several ways.  This was the only basketball set from Topps released under the ‘Reserve’ name, evolving from the ‘Gallery’ brand.  The card fronts have paint splotches to make up the card borders, with a game action shot centered to create the appearance of a canvas.  The card backs have some stats not typically included, showing how the player performed on various days rest (0,1,2,3+), in addition to season averages.  It was a bit disappointing to open any duplicates at all considering we opened less than half the base set, but could have been worse.

Something else that doesn’t make much sense to me is including anything less than PSA 9 graded cards in the box.  Unfortunately this wasn’t a great rookie class either.  We were fortunate to open one of the few still in the league as our regular rookie in Jamal Crawford.  Some of the other top rookies in this set are Kenyon Martin, Mike Miller, Hedo Turkoglu, and Stephen Jackson.  Yeah… ouch.

In 2000 the early craze for game used cards was in full swing.  A set of relic cards from All-Star weekend was a nice change.  Clearly there is a chance to open cards of some of the league’s best in this set, such as Stockton, Malone, Shaq, Duncan, Hill, Robinson, but also some up-and-comers at the time in Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, etc…

The draw of this box is of course the 8×10 canvas, with the grand prize being a Shaq or Magic Johnson autograph.  We weren’t lucky enough to open one of those, but Jamison isn’t a bad consolation.  The others on the checklist are Jermaine O’Neal, Elton Brand, Shawn Marion, Andre Miller, Baron Davis, Steve Francis, Wally Szczerbiak, Keyon Dooling, Larry Hughes, Mike Bibby, and Maurice Taylor.  The big prizes at the time were likely Brand and Steve Francis, the star rookies from the previous year.

If you want a different box-opening experience, as well as a chance (a slim one) at a Shaq or Magic canvas, this is a low-risk box that could result in a high-reward.


Rookie Highlight: Ricky Rubio

Ricky Rubio made his NBA debut earlier this week as the Minnesota Timberwolves faced the Thunder. Coming off the bench, Rubio put up 6 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals in 27 minutes of action.  He posted similar numbers in his second game against the Bucks on Wednesday.  The numbers may not jump out (yet), but if you watched either of these games, or have watched him play in international competition, it’s clear that Rubio is going to be a force in this league.  At 21, his court vision already rivals that of the league’s best.  If he can get his jump shot to fall consistently, he’ll be a star.  The Wolves look to be a great situation for Rubio and the young talent around him in Kevin Love, Derrick Williams, Michael Beasley, and even newly acquired guard J.J. Barea.  You can feel the buzz at Target Center through the television every time Rubio touches the ball, the crowd anticipating the next great dish.

I’d be shocked if Rubio’s rookie cards stay at their current level, for several reasons.  One- he’s the only rookie this year that actually has true rookie cards out!  His true rookies were produced for the 2009-10 season as he was drafted back in 2009.  The other option is the new SP Authentic product, but some of the top rookies are missing from this set (Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams).  Two- the availability is limited.  His Topps, Upper Deck, and Greats of the Game rookies can be had for cheap, generally under $5, but I would expect the price of these to rise as more folks get to see Rubio with the Wolves.  Anything outside of these and his UD Draft Edition card are selling high, as most of these others are autographed and from higher-end products.  Even his Topps Chrome rookie /999 is tough to find.

Rubio will certainly provide his share of SportsCenter highlights this year.  I for one will be watching the Wolves on the league pass as often as I can.