My wife surprised me with a box of 2013-14 Panini Pinnacle basketball for Valentine’s day. What better gift than a box of cards. It’s been years since I’ve busted a hobby box of anything and I couldn’t be more exited. I’m trying to limit myself to a pack a day. This box has 10 packs with 30 cards per pack. The base set is 300 cards. Each pack is loaded up with current and retired players, rookies, and inserts. Here’s what pack 1 looked like.
The best of the current player base cards and a rookie of Victor Oladipo. Oladipo plays for the Thunder now, and was the #2 pick in the 2013 draft. Definitely one of the more exiting rookies of this class.
A few of the retired stars from this pack. Love the mix from this product. Mark Price was a 4-time all-star and is now the head coach at UNC Charlotte. Can’t go wrong with adding new cards of Scottie Pippen.
These scanned pretty terribly. They look much better in hand. The Barnes in particular looks pretty sharp. The Gervin is a ‘museum collection’ parallel, a parallel of the base set that makes it look like the other inserts. The Haslem is an Artists Proof, of which there are several varieties (regular, blue, red, green, and black). The first true insert from the box is a Team Pinnacle insert of former Warrior Harrison Barnes. The back of this one has Vince Carter on it.
I forgot to mention each insert has its own set of Artists Proof parallels. If you like parallels and inserts, pick up a box of this stuff.
The next set of inserts (yes, we are still in the same pack of 30 cards) features a couple of Spurs, including one card that fits right into my Duncan player collection. Kawhi will make sure the Spurs stay relevant for years to come. Not only relevant, but championship contenders I should say. Dion Waiters probably wouldn’t be featured in an insert set if it came out this year, but the 2020 insert set features many of the games current young stars such any Anthony Davis, Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, and a bunch of rookies from the 2013-14 season.
The big prize from this pack is an Essence of the Game autograph. This is an awesome set with on-card autographs, serial numbered cards, and cards that you can see through. The set is made up of 50 cards and although I didn’t get the player I would choose, I was still pleased to open one of these. My only complaint is that there are 50 cards and not a single Pacer! The closest is D.J. Augustin in a Pacers uniform but a Raptors logo. No thanks.
A successful pack one that makes it tough for me to not bust all the rest at once.
Tim Duncan is my favorite non-Pacer of all time, and probably my second favorite player behind Reggie Miller. It’s weird not being able to watch Duncan play this season. In my book he goes down as the greatest power forward in the history of the game. So much has already been said about Duncan, so I will get down to the cards. These aren’t necessarily the most valuable cards in my collection, although some of them may fall into that space. They are just my favorites. They break down into four categories.
Category 1: The Rookies
1997-98 Metal Universe #66 and 1997-98 Metal Universe Championship #72
I’m starting the list by breaking the rules with counting two cards as one, but I just couldn’t choose one over the other and I wanted nine other spots. Try to find cooler base sets than these two.
1997-98 E-X 2001 #75
This certainly was a great year for basketball cards, wasn’t it? I remember opening a few packs of these and pulling a Patrick Ewing. Even though he was on the hated Knicks I was still in love with the card and design. I probably don’t have that card anymore but it sure was a thrill for an 11 year old to open packs of this stuff.
1997-98 Topps Chrome #115
The most recognizable of Duncan’s rookie cards, along with probably his SP Authentic rookie. While I never added a refractor version to my collection, his Chrome rookie has to fit somewhere in my top 10. The back of this one asks what makes a star. Is it scoring? Rebounding? Defense? Consistency? Heart? Duncan has all of these. A good quote too from Dave Odom, Duncan’s coach at Wake Forest on the back.
1997-98 SP Authentic #165
Duncan throwing down a jam with future teammate and current Warriors coach Steve Kerr watching. Part of what makes this a cool card is it was the first year with the full SP Authentic named set. The previous year obviously had a great rookie class and some key rookie cards in the SP set with Kobe being the top card, but 1997-98 was the first SP Authentic set. This set the stage for 1998-99 which I remember as being a hot set with Vince Carter’s rookie being the most sought after at the time.
Category 2: The Rookie Year Inserts
1997-98 Skybox Premium Next Game #7
Looks like the modern Court Kings sets. Just always liked the look of this set and Duncan going for the lay-in makes for a great card. Always blows my mind that the Spurs landed Duncan in the first place because of Robinson’s injury.
1997-98 Ultra Heir To The Throne #7
Don’t have a great reason for picking this except he is sitting on a throne of basketballs! What a design for an insert set.
1997-98 Z-Force Big Men On Court #4
This one has to rate up there in terms of value. I’m fairly sure one of my friends traded it to me in the early 2000s and I’m sure I got the best of whatever trade we made. I’m trying to reacquaint myself with the basketball card hobby, and what I’m noticing is if the insert set was redone in the Upper Deck Retro set, then the original set is probably pretty highly sought after these days.
Category 3: Other Inserts
1998-99 Skybox Premium Jam Pack #15
This is the first insert I pulled of Duncan from a pack, and I’ve held onto it for a long time. For this reason alone it makes the list. It’s also an interesting design that hasn’t been close to replicated, with a shiny pick background of water, rocky shorelines, and sky.
Category 4: Relics
2003-04 Fleer Genuine Insider Team USA #TU-TD
I can’t put enough Team USA cards into my collection. In fact there are some insert sets I’d like to put together from some other sets around this time focused on Team USA. One is an insert set from Fleer Avant, if I remember right. I picked this up right before I closed up shop on the blog in 2012, but it still cracks my top 10.
2007-08 Stadium Club Beam Team Relic #BTR-TD
Hard to go wrong putting a Beam Team insert into a top 10 list. Add a relic to the mix and it was hard to omit this one from this post. It’s a plain black swatch but it doesn’t bother me.
So there you have it. Notice no autographs in this list. Haven’t added one of those to my collection yet, but would like to if the price is right. I plan to share more of my Duncan collection in future posts, and I need to get a wantlist up. Don’t have most of his newer cards and want to see which inserts from the 1990s and early 2000s I am missing.
Since I started collecting back in the mid-90s, my focus has always been on collecting ‘any and all Indiana Pacers cards, past or present’. The mid-to-late 90s Pacers will always hold a special place in my heart and in my basketball card collection. Guys like Mark Jackson, Rik Smits, Jalen Rose, Dale and Antonio Davis, and of course the great Reggie Miller are my favorite players of all-time, and I doubt that will ever change. After that era of Pacer basketball, players like Jermaine O’Neal, Jamaal Tinsley, Ron Artest, Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson, Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, along with lesser-knowns, have come and gone. While exciting to watch, now that these players have moved on, I can’t say I go and regularly look through my collections of these guys like I do the cards of Pacers from the 90s.
How this impacts my collecting habits today? Well instead of collecting any and all Pacers, I’ve found myself shifting my focus to other favorite players not wearing a Pacer uniform, along with the key guys on the current team (currently Danny Granger, Paul George, Roy Hibbert, etc…). And so my Tim Duncan collection has taken off, I’ve added autographs of other greats such as Tony Parker and Paul Pierce to my collection, and I’ve put together small collections of Kevin Durant and Grant Hill. I’m pleased with this shift so far, and while I’ll always collect the Pacers, I won’t have to look back in 10 years and try to remember how I ended up with so many cards of Ike Diogu or Shawne Williams. Plus, I’ll still have these guys covered in my All-Time Pacers autograph collection.
With all that said, I’ve picked up some recent Duncan inserts to add to the collection. Pretty excited about the Star Power Plus in particular.
After losing in six games to the Thunder in what may have been the most entertaining series of the playoffs, the question comes up- are the Spurs, as they are currently assembled, done as a serious title-threat going forward? Tim Duncan becomes a free-agent, although both sides have basically accepted Duncan is a Spur-for-life. The core continues to age while the Thunder grow into their collective prime. Durant is amazingly only 23.
The Spurs have always been a favorite of mine to watch- they can seemingly plug in young unknowns (Gary Neal, James Anderson, Danny Green, etc…) and disposed-of veterans not producing on former teams (Boris Diaw, Stephen Jackson), and these guys will step in and produce. It is the San Antonio way. It is the Greg Popovich way. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the Spurs in contention. In a shortened season where the older teams were supposed to struggle, the Spurs posted the league’s best record. Who says they can’t contend again next year, using the same formula? The key pieces will be back, along with emerging young star Kawhi Leonard.
Who knows if the Spurs can stop the emerging Thunder (and potential defending champ?) in the next few years. The fan in me isn’t ready for the breakup of the Spurs, or the end of Duncan’s career. I also wouldn’t bet against Duncan or Popovich.
1999-00 Topps Series 1
36 packs per box, 11 cards per pack
Series 1 base set contains 110 base cards, 10 rookies inserted 1 in 5
MVP Promo, 1 in 336 packs
Record Numbers, 1 in 12 packs
Season’s Best, 1 in 12 packs
Patriarchs, 1 in 22 packs
Picture Perfect, 1 in 8 packs
Prodigy, 1 in 36 packs
Prodigy Refractor, 1 in 144 packs
Autographs Group A, 1 in 877 packs
Autographs Group B, 1 in 351 packs
Definitely received a complete base set, likely came up with two. As with our Series 2 break, the base cards have the blindingly bright orange borders, with otherwise nice action shots of the player in the center. The photography in the Shaq we’ve shown above is magnificent, capturing the dominance of Shaq’s time with the Lakers. Again though, we busted this box for shot at some nice inserts, and because it was a cheap break with much enjoyment in pack breaking. It’s nice to open 18 packs and realize you still have half the box to go.
Once again, the design and flair on some of these insert sets, Patriarchs and Season’s Best in particular, is something you just don’t see in modern-day sets. The Picture Perfect inserts don’t do much for me, but most of the others are attractive and colorful sets. Prodigy has a Chrome feel. The excitement I felt opening the Prodigy insert and refractor quickly faded when I saw the players on each card. Certainly could have done better, but pulling an insert with 1:144 odds felt pretty good.
Pulling multiples on several rookies was disappointing as well, but at least these are of guys that are still playing today.
As with our series 2 break, this one was a blast to break, and it won’t cost a fortune to pick up. These should be available for under $30 on ebay or elsewhere. One of these days we’ll open an autograph, but for now, we’ll treasure our Matt Harpring Refractor.
2000-01 Ultra Thrillinium
1 in 48 packs
Kobe Bryant $20.00
Shaquille O’Neal $10.00
Why I Like It:
Although the rookie class wasn’t particularly strong for the 2000-01 season, the inserts made some of the products worth buying. 2000-01 Ultra Thrillinium is filled with some of the influential and exciting players in the game going into the new new millenium, and with an insert ratio of 1 in 48 packs, and with a parallel version /100, this insert set was a fairly desirable one. The card in particular that took me back was the Jason Williams Kings card. That Kings team with Chris Webber and Peja Stojakovic truly was a thrill to watch, rising to one of the Western Conference elite teams and creating a strong rivalry with the Shaq and Kobe Lakers.