Friday, December 31, 2010

Bo Knows Bowl Season

I know it's been several weeks since I've written a "Bo Knows…" post, but I just haven't been able to land any Bo Jackson memorabilia or cards lately. Luckily, Josh over at DodgerBobble sent me this great video from the 1985 college football bowl season featuring one Bo Jackson. Enjoy the footage and remember… Bo Knows Bowl Season. Happy New!

- Stay tuned for a 2010 trading card year in review I will hopefully have posted be Sunday at the latest. Thanks for reading and… "Enjoy Every Bounce of the Ball" in this new year.

Yet Another 90's Insert Set: '97 Ultra Court Masters Update

'97 Ultra Court Masters Gary Payton
I've been working diligently on putting the 1997 Ultra Court Masters insert set together for several months now. I recently added this Gary Payton to my ongoing '97 Ultra Court Masters collection. That makes nine out of the fifteen card insert set accounted for (You can view the other eight by clicking here). I have some of the tougher or more expensive cards in the set out of the way with the Shaquille O'neal, Anfernee Hardaway, David Robinson, Stockton and Malone cards, but there's still a few pricey ones to go like the Jordan. Of course, if anyone out there has any cards from this set and is looking to trade, checkout my trade album and let me know.

The appeal of these cards for me is a colorful acetate background and 90's stars. This Payton is no different. However, I wish the old Seattle Supersonics uniform was featured, but it's still cool non-the-less.

The Payton isn't exactly the most sought after card in the set, but it's always nice for a collector to add a card from a set they're putting together. Also, this one didn't really set me back too much. Actually, this is the cheapest card out of the nine I have from the set at $7.00 shipped. Not too bad. So nine down and six to go.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Next Golden Age of the NBA. Is It Already Here?

For many sports fans, the "Golden Age" of the NBA started with Bird versus Magic and culminated with Jordan hitting a game winning shot over Byron Russell in the '98 NBA Finals. Without question, it's hard to argue that claim. Sure, the NBA's "Golden Age" was built by the likes of the above mentioned Bird, Magic and Jordan, but the Association was littered with exciting stars throughout the league. From Clyde "The Glyde" Drexler in the Great Northwest to Sir Patrick at MSG or "The Human Highlight Film" in A-Town and Shaq and "Penny" in the wonderful world of Disney, the NBA was working on all cylinders throughout the mid 80's and 90's. Even perennial cellar dwellers like the Dallas Mavericks had "The Triple J's" or the Golden State Worriers with "RUN T.M.C.". There's no denying the state of basketball and the Association during that time, but today's NBA is certainly on the cusp of rivalling that time. Just think about it. Even the L.A. Clippers are actually palatable now.

One issue that has plagued the NBA over the past decade has been the lack of true superstars throughout the NBA. This could be for a number of reasons, but I attribute much of this problem to the influx of high school players into the league. Simply put, the vast majority of prep stars are not ready both physically and mentally for the NBA. Sure, I'm not going to argue one bit that players like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett haven't achieved their full potential, but there have been far more that haven't. Say what you want about the one year removed from high school rule, but it's apparent that the vast majority of NBA prospects need a few semesters of higher learning to develop leadership, basketball IQ, fundamentals and physically. Not all, but many players need to go through a progression to develop both basketball and mental skills. It seems the influx of potential talent during the end of the 90's and the beginning of the last decade has hurt the development of that potential and thus, the NBA.

Fortunately for us fans, the state of the NBA game has been improved somewhat by young players who are forced to develop at a slightly slower rate than just being thrown into the fire that is professional basketball. I would argue that prep players should have to wait two full years before they can enter the NBA. I believe that would improve the NBA product even further. It's a matter of requirements/experience for a job posting, but this is really an issue for another post, the NBA CBA or at the very least, maybe Facebook.

The one to two years that prep stars are serving in the collegiate ranks seems to be paying off, but it's not the only change that is ushering in a new "Golden Age" in the NBA. Quite simply, LeBron has a huge affect on the state of the Association. Just like Jordan, Magic and Bird did in their day (Ok, not quiet like those greats, but close). Look, I'm not saying LeBron is better or even as good as either one of those three all-time greats. Although he should be, he simply doesn't have the same fire and competitiveness as many of the greats, but he does have mass appeal. We all tuned in to "The Decision" several months ago to not only see what the fate of the Cavaliers franchise was, but also the NBA. Lebron has brought emotion back to the NBA fan and casual sports fan. For example, I despise Team South Bitch and Prince James. However, the fact of the matter is whether you like him or not, LeBron matters.

Although many of the stars and superstars may not have the same mass appeal as Lebron, the placement of those stars is important. It's always a good thing when a league's biggest markets have stars and successful teams, and that's no different for the NBA. My Knickerbockers have a little swagger back at MSG with Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton in the "Big Apple". Although I'm not much of a fan of his intensity or a lack of winning attitude, D-Rose is putting up MVP like numbers in Chi-Town. Kobe is Kobe in the city of glitz and glamour. Dirk is holding court in "Big D", and "Durantuala" is bringing big time hoops to the Mid-west. The big cities are hoppin' with hoops.

My final point on the second coming of the NBA's "Golden Age" has to do with attendance. Since 2005, the NBA's average league wide attendance has steadily climbed to or hovered right around 17,500. Attendance during the '08-'09 season did fall by 2.0%, but remember, we are in a recession (You can see this years attendance numbers thus far by clicking here). I'm guessing the numbers are going to level off for a bit until we fully recover from the recession. Important to note, the fact that attendance numbers have not tanked since the recession hit back in late '08 is a testament to the resurgence of the product on NBA courts today.

Yes, the NBA is poised for a "Golden Age" out on those hardwood courts. New rivalries are being forged, there are plenty of current and future stars around the league and sports fans are getting excited (at least this fan is) about the product. So enjoy the NBA's new "Golden Age" and of course… "Every Bounce of the Ball".

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's Rubyrific: 1999 SkyBox Rubies Thurman Thomas

'99 SkyBox Rubies Thurman Thomas #'d 20/30
I've been wanting to pickup a Rubies card from a late 90's SkyBox product for sometime now. They're some of the best looking cards as they incorporate a foiled background that is like a mix between a refractor and hologram. Unfortunately, these cards typically demand hefty price tags. So with a little patience, I was able to snag this #'d 20/30 Thurman Thomas from the '99 SkyBox Rubies set.

I paid just under $10 including shipping for this gem. I'm sure I'm a bit biased as a Bills fan, but this is a rare card of a HOF'er. I thought the price was pretty nice.

The card is numbered only to 30 and features one of my all-time favorites. There've been some very nice auto'd cards of Thomas in the hobby lately (click here), but the higher end cards from his playing days are few and far between. That's why I'm so excited to add this card to my collection.

Stay tuned for another SkyBox Ruby I was able to land from the "Big Country" and… "Enjoy Every Bounce of the Ball".

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Big Thanks To Fuji Over At The Chronicles of Fuji

I'm back from a brief holiday hiatus and have tons of cards, posters, sports books and auto's to blog about over the next couple of weeks. I'll start with an awesome package I got in the mail last week just before the holiday. I guess it was Christmas come early. I lost a friendly bet between myself and Mark over at The Chronicles of Fuji several weeks ago when my second favorite football, the Minnesota Vikings, lost to Mark's Green Bay Packers. Since my team lost, I sent Mark a few cards he wanted (click here). Even though I lost, and badly I might add, Mark sent over a few really cool cards:

Here are some '93 Topps Gold cards of some of my favorite Buffalo Bills players. There's also a very cool Randall Cunningham who was the "Ultimate Weapon" back in the day. I've always liked the Topps Gold cards or really any foiling of any kind.

Before there was Josh Cribbs, there was Joe Cribbs. This 3-time Pro Bowler with the Bills is the uncle of Cleveland Browns player Josh Cribbs. The Marcus Easley card is also pretty cool. It's always fun to get jersey cards. Easley is a bit of an enigma here in Buffalo right now. He was a 3-year walk-on at UCONN before earning a scholarship his senior season. The work ethic will certainly go far here in Buffalo, but he has yet to see any playing time due to a season ending knee injury in late august. However, I have high hopes and am happy to add this card to my collection.
I saved the best for last. This '99 Upper Deck SPx RC Auto of Troy Edwards is one of the best looking cards I've seen in quite awhile. The foil background is almost like a Topps refractor and the auto is nice and big. As many of you know by now, I collect a lot of 90's inserts. The '99 UD SPx RC Auto set is the only football insert set I'm currently trying to put together. This is a nice piece to the puzzle.

Once again, thanks Mark for the cards. It was very nice of you to send me some very cool cards even though I lost the bet. Thanks for reading and… "Enjoy Every Bounce of the Ball".

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What Do You Want For Christmas?

Christmas truly is a great time of year. After all the hustle and bustle of the shopping malls and excess traffic of course. As a collector and avid eBay shopper, I've had to cut back so I can spend any discretionary income on friends and family. That's actually fine by me. It's awesome sniping out a cool card on eBay or busting open a pack, but it's even better to see the smile on someone else's face as they open a gift. A gift that you have your fingers crossed they like no less. So because of a redirection of hobby funds, I'm going to need Santa to come through for me to get me my card fix.

That brings me to the always popular, "What Do You Want For Christmas?" blog question. It sure would be nice to get a pack or two to open on Christmas from Santa, but all I really want is to spend some time with family. Getting cool stuff is always fun, but without getting too religious, Christmas is about family and faith for me.

So what do you want for Christmas?

P.S. Santa, I'm serious about the cards. I want a pack or two in the stocking. Not even playing around!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

UCONN Basketball Breaks Win Streak Record

The UCONN Huskies broke one of the most impressive records in all of sports tonight by defeating Florida State 93-62. The UCLA 88 game win streak is a record that I think most sports fans and historians thought would never be broken. To imagine that a group of people could maintain focus and motivation for that duration of time is incredible.

I watch a lot of sports, but UCONN basketball is different. I've seen a number of the games during the streak and one thing stands out, discipline to perfection. In this imperfect world, perfection is indeed impossible, but the desire for perfection is certainly impressive. Congrats to the UCONN basketball team. "… Enjoy Every Bounce of the Ball".

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hoopography Top 25 PC Countdown #2: '93 TSC Shaquille O'neal Beam Team RC

'93 Topps Stadium Club
Shaquille O'neal Beam Team RC
My Top 25 PC Countdown is getting down to the end with the #2 card on the list: 1993 Tops Stadium Club Shaquille O'neal Beam Team RC. I'm sure the appearance of this card so high on the countdown isn't really much of a surprise to readers. I'm a big fan of the early 90's TSC sets with their great photography and early Shaq cards (Orlando Magic and L.A. Lakers). This is also the 7th appearance of an O'neal card on the countdown. What can I say? I was too young to afford any of these cards back in the day. These are like white whales for me.

This was easily one of the most sought after cards in the hobby during 1993 and for good reason. The "Shaq Attack" was well underway and TSC was hot. In fact, the entire TSC Beam Team set was on fire (click here). I remember seeing this card, along with the Jordan Beam Team, in cases at card shops for around $150-$175. That's a much different story today (click here). I somehow pulled an eBay miracle out with a $35 winning bid (plus $5 for shipping) for the entire 21 card Beam Team set!

As great as all the other cards in my countdown are, no card symbolises the fingerprint smudges and fogged up showcases than this. That's why it takes the #2 spot on my Top 25 PC Countdown.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Poll: What Place Will The Orlando Magic Finish In The NBA Eastern Conference?

The Orlando Magic pulled off a series of trades that essentially brought Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas, Earl Clark and Hedo Turkoglu to the Magic Kingdom and expelled Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus, Marcin Gortat and a 1st RD pick. I like what the Magic did yesterday. They attempted to correct the personnel mistakes of the past two years in one frenetic Friday night. I know the loss of key role players Gortat and Pietrus is questionable, but I think what the Magic did will work. The question is, how well will it work?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Is Tonight's Knicks Heat Game The Start Of A Renewed Rivalry?

Is tonight's Knicks Heat game the start of a renewed rivalry? I think the Knicks and Heat are going to play prominent roles in the Eastern Conference over the next few seasons. The Heat for obvious reasons. The Knicks are also interesting. They're on a hot streak this month, but it's the moves they made this past off-season and potential future moves that make them a possible contender in the East for years to come. Especially when you take a quick look at the contracts coming off the books at the end of this season, manly, Eddie Curry. So tonight's game should be interesting and hopefully the start of a heated rivalry. For Jeff Van Gundy's sake, let's hope he manages to stay out of the potential rivalry.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Poster Review: THE LAND OF BOZ

Why am I such a big fan of Brian "The Boz" Bosworth"? He certainly was a dominant football player at the University of Oklahoma during the mid 80's, but that's not why I'm such a fan. It certainly isn't because of his NFL career either. He only played two seasons. I'm a fan of Bosworth mostly because of the crazy mullet he rocked, and because he will forever be linked to Mr. Bo Jackson (click here). There are about 5 or 6 Bosworth cards I'm after and two of those cards feature dual auto's with Bosworth and Jackson. Actually the card in the "click here" link above is in my top 5 most wanted. Surprisingly, there are a few other collectors out there like me who are after some of Boz's cards. That means his cards sell for a lot more than you would think for a guy who barely played two seasons in the NFL.

The poster is pretty well done like many of the sports posters from back in the 80's. All the characters from the Wizard of Oz film are represented, but my favorite part of the entire poster is that the kid's #44 jersey has "Bozkin" on it. Also, the rock on the right side of the poster off the yellow brick road reads, "There's No Place Like Dome". Click here for an insanely  priced BIN eBay auction. I've seen these sell for under $20.

- Fun Fact: Bosworth was an Academic All-American at the University of Oklahoma in 1986.
Fun Fact: Bosworth was a 2x first team All-American for the University of Oklahoma in 1985 and '86.
Fun Fact: Bosworth is the only collegiate player to win the Dick Butkus Award twice (1985 and '86).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Penny For Your Thoughts: Is This What The Inside of Computers Look Like?

'99 Flair Showcase
Is this really what the inside of my computer looks like? Is there a little Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway running around on my computer motherboard? If so, he better just make sure he keeps everything tiptop in there. I need my Mac to last a very long time.

This Hardaway card is from the '99 Flair 15 card insert set. Although Beckett does not have the pack insertion rate listed, I do know these are fairly rare. They are serial numbered to 1,000.

The set itself is not overly coveted by collectors despite the impressive list of former stars like Pippen, Hill, O'neal and Jordan. It does have a book value of $150, but many of the cards can be had for well under their book values (click here). Of course, the $50 Jordan usually sells for above that value (click here), and can be the missing piece for many collectors putting this set together. As is the case with many of the 90's insert sets I'm putting together.

I've always liked this set and hope to put it together…whenever I finish a few of the other sets I'm currently collecting (click here).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

KICKS: Nike Air Mag 2015, They Are Back… From The Future

Oh how sweet a hoverboard would be!
If Nike could sell millions of pairs of kicks because of the on-court exploits of Michael Jordan, just imagine how many pairs of Nike Air Mag 2015's the sporting apparel company could have sold because of the totally rad hoverboard skills of Marty Mcfly in Back to the Future II.

Like many other movie goers, I'm a huge fan of the Back to the Future film franchise. The movies were fun, imaginative and incorporated some really great 80's design. I also love all things kicks, so the Air Mag 2015's are really a perfect fit for me (cheesy play on words).

The look of the Air Mags are certainly cool,  and unique for the time. Actually, if you really look closely at them, it's certainly easy to see similarities of popular Nike kicks that came after these Back to the Future kicks. Did designers at Nike secretly incorporate design elements from the Air Mags as precursors to a potential future release of the iconic costume sneaker?
Nike Air Pump,                                           Nike Air Jordan XI's,                                          Nike Air Hyperdunk
That little theory might just be a little far fetched, but it does seem that Nike has some interest in the Air Mags. If you believe the rumors, and I always do when they suit me, Nike filed a patent for power laces. If you remember, Mcfly didn't even have to lace up his Nikes. They automatically lace themselves when the user slips their foot into the sneaker. Although the idea of automatic laces being placed on an Air Mag designed sneakers from the film is wishful thinking, it's not a far fetched assumption. This assumption is fairly valid since Nike used the Air Mag silhouette and basic design in the patent filings it sent to the World Intellectual Property Organization on November 5th, 2009 (click here!).

When could these futuristic kicks from the past show up on shelves? Since Marty Mcfly wore the Air Mags in 2015, I'm guessing Nike is working on getting these ready for that future date. One things for sure, I better not mess up the space time continuum. I don't want to have to go back to the future to get a pair of these kicks. That would be heavy!

- Need more Kicks posts, click here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Jordan Collection Part 1

With Christmas a couple weeks away, it's difficult to spend any money on trading cards. Actually, it's time to tighten the proverbial belt. That might spell problems for my blog as I typically post about recent acquisitions, but this will provide me with the opportunity to write posts about cards and items I've had in my collection for sometime now.

With the lack of new cards coming in, I thought I'd start a series dedicated to the many cards in my Michael Jordan collection. I'll also do a Best of… post and continue with the Pennies For Your Thoughts series. So without further ado, here's Part 1 of The Jordan Collection.

 '96 Upper Deck SPx Record Breaker                                '97 Upper Deck SPx Holoview Heroes

                                               '96 Upper Deck SP Holoview                                      '96 Upper Deck SPx Holoview Heroes

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Video of The Metrodome Roof Collapse

First of all, I'm very glad to hear that no one got hurt in the collapse. However, 17 inches. That's it?!?!? Here in parts of Buffalo, we got 42 inches in a storm last week. I actually lived in Minnesota for nearly three years and it's a great place with wonderful people, but 17 inches of snow is nothing. I'm no engineer, but since this is at least the third time the dome roof has collapsed, maybe it's the wrong design for that climate.

On a side note of certainly greater importance, I've got Adrian Peterson going in my fantasy football playoffs this week. That means Ford Field better be good to ALL Day and team Hoopography tomorrow night against the NY Giants.

Remembering Actioned Packed Football Cards

Do you remember the Actioned Packed football cards? These came out during the early 90's and featured a raised surface with large player images. I know it's tough to make out the almost 3D like surface in the scan, but it's unmistakable in hand.

There are tons of these cards out there, and you can pick one of these up for less than a dollar. I've had this The All-Madden Team Thurman Thomas card in my collection really since I've been collecting. Between the Bills' red, white and blue team colors and the unique surface, this is one cool looking card.

Aside from that raised surface, the card is unique in another way. It's not a bunch of sheets of cardboard laminated together to form one card stock. Instead, it's three panels of one single piece of paper folded together. This makes for a very rigid and relatively thick card for the time. It's also a very durable card. Between the rigidness and the rounded corners, these cards tend to stay in great shape even after nearly 20 years.

I blew the card up so hopefully you can see how the sides are folded. Enjoy the football today and… "Every Bounce of the Ball.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Big Thanks To Matt Over At Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius

I saw a really cool card several months ago featuring the lead singer of one of my favorite bands, Thom Yorke of Radiohead, and I wrote a post asking if any of my fellow bloggers knew anything about the card. Turns out, the card was made by Matt over at Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius. I contacted Matt and he was kind enough to make me not one, but two of the coolest cards I've seen in a long time. In fact, I've been doing a countdown of my favorite cards in my PC over the last few weeks. I put the countdown list together and made a rule that I would not add any new cards or change the list until I got through the countdown. I will do a follow up post when the countdown is done on the new cards in my collection that would have made the list (there are only two left), and you can be sure that these two little gems will be in there.

The designs are certainly familiar, but it's the images and colors that Matt used that make these cards great. What's also cool is that Matt himself signed the backs and issued them as 1 of 1's.

If you get a chance, I know many of you already have, checkout Matt's blogs: Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius and Heartbreaking Originals. Heartbreaking Originals is a blog featuring some of Matt's card design work. I want to say a special thanks to Matt for these really cool looking cards. Matt's slogan is, "Accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative about this hobby". He not only preaches it, he practices that. Thanks again Matt, I will be sending some cards your way soon. Happy collecting and… "Enjoy Every Bounce of the Ball".

Friday, December 10, 2010

Who Remembers Big Bad Gheorghe Muresan?

'97 Gheorghe Muresan Upper Deck SP
Alright, maybe Gheorghe wasn't such a bad, tough, shut your mouth kinda player, but he sure was big. At 7 ft. 7 ins., you could say that Muresan towered over the competition (look closely at the card for the reference). The former 30th pick in the second round of the '93 NBA Draft was certainly a fan favorite because of his size, but he was also a contributor on the court. Muresan was the NBA's Most Improved Player for the '95-'96 season averaging 14.5 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.26 blocks/game. He finished his NBA career with averages of 9.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.48 blocks/game. Those are solid career averages, but it's what Muresan did away from the court that might be more memorable.

Muresan has appeared in every-thing from an Eminem music video, a film with Billy Crystal called My Giant and numerous television commercials. Here's one of Gheorghe's funny ESPN commercials.

- Cool Card Attribute: The '97 Upper Deck SP set featured an ultra cool holo-foiling on the front surface of the card that made for a very nice looking base card.

Fun Fact: Big Gheorghe wore number 77 in honor of his height.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Winter Meetings Have Got Me Thinking Baseball

'85 Star Company Reggie Jackson Set (Front)
'85 Star Company Reggie Jackson Set (Back)
Here's an item I picked up well over a year ago that I was waiting for just the right time to post. With the Baseball Winter Meetings finishing up, I thought it was as good of a time as any to finally post this 36 card set. Plus, I like how the larger images look on the site.

I pride myself on having a solid knowledge base on the sports memorabilia and trading card hobby, but to be honest, I really don't know very much about this set. Sure, I know all about the Star Co. and their regional releases from the 80's and very early 90's. I'm also well aware of Mr. October's exploits. However, I'm not really sure why these cards were produced as perforated threesomes. If anyone has any info to shed some light on the set, that would be great. I paid just under $5.00 including shipping for the set and am happy to add it to my collection. Here's an eBay listing that shows all twelve sheets from an open set.

As for the Winter Meetings, news is coming out that the Yanks are talking with Cliff Lee as you read about a seven year deal. With the Red Sox coming in late last night and signing Carl Crawford, the signing of Lee is imperative for the Yankees.

- Question: I'm sure there will be more moves and signings to come during the remainder of the MLB off-season, but how did your team do during the Winter Meetings/off-season thusfar?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rocky… I Mean Sylvester Stallone Will Be Inducted Into The Boxing Hall of Fame. Has Stallone Earned The Induction?

Click Here For "Rocky I" Poster
Sylvester Stallone is among twelve members to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame for his contributions on the "Rocky" film series. By contributions, I'm referring to both writing and starring in the most quintessential underdog story in cinematic history. I'm a huge fan of the "Rocky" films, all except "Rocky V" with Tommy The Gun, and certainly feel Stallone's contributions to the sport are worthy of induction.

The original "Rocky" film came out in 1976 starring an unknown actor in Stallone. I've heard a few media types who are opposed to the induction of Stallone citing the fact that he wasn't a boxer or even a trainer. I don't think anyone can really argue the spotlight that Stallone put on the sport of boxing. Tens of millions have watched the six "Rocky" films, I may account for at least one of those millions, and I'm sure one or two of those viewers were drawn into the sport because of the films. Plus, do any detractors to Stallone's induction really think they could last even a round with the actor. Sure, it was all fictional fight scenes, but Stallone looked pretty impressive taking down Ivan Drago in "Rocky IV". Now if you'll kindly excuse me, I have to go run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

- Fun Fact: "Rocky I" had a production budget of less than 1 million dollars, but earned more than $225 million in box-office receipts.

- Question: Do you think Sylvester Stallone is worthy of induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Update: Yet Another 90's Insert Set ('97 Ultra Court Masters)

As I'm sure you're all well aware of, I love 90's insert sets. The quality of design and creativity was at its peak during that time. Whether it was holograms, die cuts, acetate or the early jersey and auto'd cards, 90's card companies had it going on. I have about five separate 90's insert set collections going right now between basketball and football products, but none is more exciting to me than the '97 Ultra Court Masters acetate basketball set.

I've been working on putting the 15 card set together for sometime now. I wrote a post a few weeks ago about the first few cards I was able to add to start the collection, but was recently able to buy a four card lot for a very reasonable price. Actually, these cards normally sell for right at or just above book value (BV). I paid less than half of BV for the lot.

The lot contains a few of the bigger names in the set like Malone, Stockton and Robinson. The Richmond is certainly a nice card and sells well, but it's not on the same level as the other three featuring HOF'ers.

Here are the other four cards in my Court Masters collection pursuit and a closeup of one of the newly added cards:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Book Review: The Boys of Summer by Rodger Kahn

Just as classics like To Kill a Mocking Bird and The Great Gatsby are to American literature, so is The Boys of Summer to sports literature. However, one of the many beauties about this Roger Kahn classic is how it transcends sports. This is a novel that takes the reader through the excitement of fanhood, the success of finally beating those hated cross city rivals (New York Yankees) and the struggle of former middle-aged ball players. I've had the pleasure of reading many books on sports in America, but none have pulled me closer to baseball, old time Americana and myself than The Boys of Summer.

Kahn begins by explaining his interest in the Dodgers as a young boy who lived near Ebbet's Field in Brooklyn. This is basic narrative on childhood support for a favorite sports team that any fan can easily relate to today. He also chronicles the Dodgers struggles against the vaunted Mantle and Berra led Yankees during the late 40's and 50's. This is all of course buildup to the Dodgers' only World Series Championship ('55) as the Brooklyn Dodgers before they moved to L.A. As a New Yorker myself, I had always wanted to know what it was like back in the 50's when baseball was truly New York Cities' game. There was a New York baseball team in 12 out of 13 World Series from '47 to '59. That feeling is certainly captured in the book. However, sports in the 1950's is not the only emotion or feeling Kahn was able to capture in The Boys of Summer.

As an energetic 28 year old, I by no means am even near middle-age. In fact, I'm not one who believes in the number that defines us, but rather the actions that we do at said number. Inevitably however, we do slow down and Kahn is able to explain to us what that was like for many of the Dodgers greats like Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson and more. This is great insight into the professional athlete off the field of play and particularly, the transitional period from athlete to non-athlete. As the reader, you can't help but feel for these once physically great heroes who no-longer posses those same attributes.

As a former beat writer for the Dodgers, Kahn had built relationships with the players from those iconic Brooklyn teams. Those friendships are obvious throughout the book and certainly give the book a slight bias. Ok, whom I kidding. The bias is extremely apparent and strong, but that love for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and really Kahn's Dodgers, is just one of the many emotions/feelings that make The Boys of Summer a must read for sports fans and non sports fans alike.

- You can certainly find copies of The Boys of Summer at your local public library, mega-multimedia store or eBay. For more Hoopography "Book Reviews", simply click here.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hoopography Top 25 PC Countdown #3: '94 Fleer Ultra Scoring Kings Michael Jordan

'94 Michael Jordan Fleer Ultra Scoring Kings
I know it's been over a week since the last installment of my PC countdown, so let's get right to it. This '94 Fleer Ultra Scoring Kings insert is easily one of the most sought after Jordan cards in the hobby and for good reason.

The front of this tremendous looking card is all foil. That means two things. First, the card surface looks great with that lightning image in the background. The second importance of the foiling is the effect the foiling has on the condition of the card. Similar to the '93 Upper Deck SP foiled Derek Jeter RC, chipping and corner wear is prevalent with this card. I was able to find a mint version of the card at a very affordable price, and was very happy to add it to my collection.

This is easily one of my favorite Jordan cards in my collection. I have a number of cards in this set, and will complete it one day. Luckily, I have a strong start to the set with the Jordan. Stay tuned for the final two cards in my PC Countdown and remember to "Enjoy Every Bounce of the Ball" this holiday season.

Poll: What's The Most Important Position On The Football Field Today

So we all know the NFL is a quarterback driven league, but what's the most important position after the Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? You're probably saying, "Well that's easy… long-snapper", but I don't think it's such a cut and dry question.

The importance of protecting the QB's backside with a quality left tackle can't be understated. Conversely, getting to a QB with a terrorizing DE or LB can change the entire course of a game. Lets not forget the confidence a reliable RB can give you, and those primadonna WR's can certainly put the fear in an opposing defensive coordinator.

For me, there's nothing like a completely dominant DE rushing the opposing QB or a stonewall LT, but I have to go with a monster Defensive Tackle. The right DT can setup the rest of a defense. That's particularly true in the 3-4 defense and goes without saying you need two DT's in a 4-3 defensive scheme. Know thinking about it, maybe the long-snapper position doesn't have quite the same importance as I may have assumed. There's no denying the fact that the success of an NFL team depends on every team member, but which position is more important?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Should Card Companies Bring Holograms Back?

1997 Upper Deck SPx Great Futures
The hologram is a technology used in trading cards primarily in the 90's, but should this card technology be used in trading card design today?

I'm a big fan of any trading card technology used in 90's card design, and holograms add so much to the overall look of basically a piece of cardboard. The obvious mirrored shinny aesthetic is very impressive, but holograms also allow card designers to incorporate multiple images in essentially one spot of that pieces of cardboard we so covet.

I'd certainly like to see holograms back in the hobby, but what do you think? Do you want to see holo's back in the hobby?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Poll: How Would Jay Williams' NBA Career Have Turned Out?

'03 Upper Deck Ultimate Auto RC
No, not the Jason Williams who hooped it up with Randy Moss during his high school days, nor the former New Jersey Nets Jayson Williams. I get confused myself with so many NBA'ers named Jason Williams, but I'm talking about the former Duke University star from earlier in the decade. I'm sure many fans and collectors have forgotten about the once dynamic point guard. It's been almost a decade since his playing days, and there have been a plethora of point guards in Chicago since. Although I'm not a huge fan, Derrick Rose is doing a great job of making Bulls fans forget about Mr. Williams. I know he's currently a collegiate basketball analyst for ESPN, but he was at one time an unstoppable force on the court. He was one of the most explosive guards I've ever seen and could also stroke it from deep. I watched the former N.J. State Mr. Basketball Award winner play in high school and thought there was nothing he couldn't do. While at Duke, it seemed that was true. Unfortunately for Williams, we truly are the sum of the decisions we make, as positive or reckless as those decisions might be.

'03 Upper Deck Ultimate Dual Jersey RC
Mr. Williams was well on his way to a great start of his NBA career as the #2 overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls until a motorcycle accident nearly claimed his life after his rookie season. Williams hit a streetlight in Chicago in '03. He did not have a licence to operate a motorcycle in Illinois, nor was he wearing a helmet. In fact, Williams was not supposed to be on a motorcycle at all as his contract with the Bulls stated. He suffered a number of horrific injuries that put walking agin in jeopardy, never mind playing professional basketball. Williams actually made a comeback in 2007 with the N.J. Nets averaging 3.8 points 0.6 assists and 2.6 turnovers/game, but was released after 5 games.

I recently picked up a few RC's of Williams as I'm a dork for basketball history, and he's certainly apart of that history. There's no questioning Williams' place in collegiate basketball history. In only 3 years, he managed to become the 5th all-time leading scoring when he left Dunk with 2,079 points and lead the Blue Devils to the 2001 NCAA Championship. Williams also won the Naismith and Wooden Awards as college basketball's best player in 2002. He is often regarded as one of the best collegiate players ever, and is on many top 100 lists. So what NBA history would Williams have cut out for himself had he not gotten hurt? How would Jay Williams' NBA career have turned out?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Which NBA Slam Dunk Contest Performance Ranks #1 (Jordan '88, Webb '86, Carter '00, Richardson '03, Wilkins '88)?

'85 Star Co. Group Photo/Checklist
There have been a number of amazing physical and creative performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest over the years, but which is the best overall performance? I picked five videos of the best performances that include each dunk form the selected contests. Sure, there have been some memorable single rounds or dunks by contestants, J.R. Rider's East Bay Funk Dunk, but what if we could compare the best overall performances from the most memorable contestants? Well now you can.

I know, I know. Everyone has there favorite Dunk Contest performances, but I really think these are the best five of all-time: Jordan '88, Webb '86, Carter '00, Wilkins '88 and Richardson '03. So checkout the videos and get to ranking the best overall NBA Slam Dunk Contest performances. Make sure to take into consideration each dunk from all rounds. I hope everyone enjoys these dunktacular videos and of course "…Enjoy Every Bounce of the Ball".

Spud Webb '86 Contest Vince Carter '00 Contest
Jordan/Wilkins '88 Contest Richardson '03 Contest

Monday, November 29, 2010

Poster Review: Griffey-The Next Generation Costacos Brothers Poster

Griffey-The Next Generation
Costacos Brothers Poster
Costacos Brothers came up with some great posters during the 80's and 90's, and this Griffey-The Next Generation poster was no different. The market for Griffey Jr. memorabilia is certainly immense. Particularly, for early pieces like this Jr. and Sr. poster. Reason being, well all I really need to say is that it's Jr. Before phenoms like Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, there was Griffey Jr.

I'm not particularly sure on the exact year this poster was released, but I'm assuming it was in '88 or '89. The background lockers are littered with fun details from family photo's to a "Dad's Root beer" can. Also, the name and font on the poster was taken from a popular late 80's and early 90's television show, Star Trek-The Next Generation. How do I know this you might ask? Let's just say I was a dork phenoms back in the day.

This is really a tremendous poster that is of course, scarce today. Here are two "autographed" posters I was able to find on eBay: click here and click here for more poster reviews.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Product Preview: 2010 Panini National Treasures Football

One of Panini's most recognizable and important brands is its National Treasures line. National Treasures is Panini's most high end product which features many auto's, patches and very hefty price tags. There are products and price points for all collectors, but it's imperative that those price points match the quality and value of the product. 2009's National Treasures Football and 2010's National Treasures Basketball were disappointing at best. The fact is, the value and quality were not there for those products. At $400 a box, sticker auto's are not acceptable. For that matter, sub par quality or design of any kind is unacceptable. It seems Panini has rectified any concerns collectors may have voiced in regards to last years NT Football product with its 2010 installment.

Panini just released some product images of its March 2, 2011 National Treasures Football release. There will be a dramatic increase in the number of on-card auto's including some very nice looking Pen Pals and Rookie/Patch auto'd cards. It does appear there still will be a number of sticker auto's in the product, but this is a nice step in the right direction. The Knight's Lance, Panini's official blog, is stating that each $400 box will include eight cards, including six auto'd or memorabilia cards per box.

I certainly like the effort to include more on-card auto's and hope this strategy will cary over to Panini's 2011 National Treasures Basketball product. If the box breaks look anything similar to the many card images that Panini has dangled in front of collectors, this will be one of the more sought after products of the year. Here's just a few of the images The Knight's Lance has recently posted. What do you think?:

Should The NFL Have A Team In L.A.?

It seems the NFL has wanted a team back in the second largest market in America since the Raiders left L.A. after the 1994 season. ESPN's Outside The Lines (OTL) did a piece this week on the likely hood of L.A. acquiring a team anytime soon. The segment was very well done as most OTL pieces are, and brings up a number of important questions. As this topic affects all readers/sports fans, I'll pose those questions to you. Will L.A. acquire a team in the next five years? Should L.A. get an NFL franchise, and what franchise will eventually move to L.A.?                                             (Third Party and RSS Feed readers, click here to view OTL video)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Poll: Is The Reported Offer By The Yankees To Derek Jeter Insulting, Spot On Or Simply Way Too Much?

1997 Flair Derek Jeter Hot Gloves
As a New York Yankees fan myself, I would like to see Jeter back in pinstripes next season. I would like to say… at the right price, but money doesn't really matter when you print as much of it as the Yankees seem to print. However, that doesn't mean I want the Yankees to throw A-Rod money at this smoldering free agent fire.

Although I am a Jeter fan and appreciate everything he's done for the franchise, I'm a Yankees fan first. The truth of the matter is that the 36 year old shortstop had his worst statistical season of his illustrious 15 year career. In 157 games last season, Jeter hit .270 with 10 HR's, 67 RBI's and 18 SB's. For a bit of a shortstop reference point, Ian Desmond of the Washington Nationals hit .269 with 10 HR's, 65 RBI's, 17 SB's and made a whopping $400,000. Ok, whopping to you or me, but the Yankees have reportedly offered Jeter $45,000,000 over three years.

There's no questioning the intangibles Jeter brings to the Yankee lineup and clubhouse, and those should be worth something. Are those intangibles worth more than $14,600,000 a year? Not likely, but here's the thing. This is the New York Yankees and Jeter will continue to be a productive player. I don't think he's going to have as poor of a season as he had last year. Actually, I think he'll bounce back with a very respectable .288 BA, 12 HR's, 85 RBI's and 15 SB's. Those are very productive offensive numbers for almost any shortstop in the MLB today. Despite the best efforts of the AL Gold Glove, Jeter's defense is a liability in the field and will need to be addressed over the longevity of any contract he agrees to with the Yanks. The truth of the matter is, the Yankees offered Jeter far more than he's worth on the field and took into account what he means to the team off the field. I think he and the Yankees will eventually agree on a three year deal worth about $60,000,000. To date, Jeter has earned $182,830,000 from MLB contracts alone. I think another $45 or $60 million is fine.

So what do you think? Is the reported offer by the Yankees insulting, spot on or too much?

Fun Facts: Here's a list of the top 35 MLB earners of all-time: (click here).

Friday, November 26, 2010

What's Your White Whale?

1996 Upper Deck SPx Anfernee Hardaway Tribute Auto 239/300                                         Upper Deck Authenticated COA

The endless pursuit of that elusive item referred to as a "White Whale" is what gets a collector's heart pumping. I recently ended my nearly three year search for this '96 UD SPx Anfernee Hardaway Tribute Auto'd card, and thought it would be fun to find out what are some of the white whales that other collectors have and/or are currently chasing?

As for my white whale, "it's a beaut Clark". Yep, Thanksgiving is over and I just watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I'll spare you from anymore Christmas movie quotes for now and get right to the card. With a print run of only three hundred, this card is fairly rare. Also, once a Hardaway fan gets a hold of the Tribute Auto, they rarely let it out of their collection. There's good reason for this. Upper Deck's SPx line debuted in '96 and the early SPx card designs are highly regarded by collectors. These were die cut sets that featured hologram technology on every card. No matter what the sport, it's always fun to bust open a box of the '96, '97, or '98 SPx products.

During the mid to late 90's, Hardaway was one of UD's most important spokesmen. Behind The G.O.A.T., no one was more important to UD's basketball product than Mr. Hardaway. Because of this, UD and UDA featured Hardaway in many sets and UDA products. One of those featured cards was the '96 UD SPx Hardaway Non Auto'd Tribute card inserted into pack at a rate of 1:95. UD also inserted a Michael Jordan Record Breaker card into packs at a rate of 1:75. Since it's such a cool looking card, I included it here in the post for your viewing. UD also inserted trade cards into packs that could be redeemed for the corresponding Jordan or Hardaway auto. The Hardaway Trade auto is an auto'd version of the SPx base card and can be seen here. Although the Trade auto is nice, the Tribute auto is a bit different.

The Tribute auto was not available from packs. Actually, the only way you could obtain the card was through Upper Deck Authenticated. UDA is simply UD's memorabilia division. These three hundred Hardaway Tribute auto's were sold to collectors through UDA catalogues and the scarce brick and mortar stores. As previously mentioned, I've been searching for this card for almost three years. Since that time, I've only seen three of these for sale. The first did not have the matching COA. The second sold for well above my price limit. The third is the card you see in this post. Like I said, Hardaway collectors don't let go of this one. It's been at the top of my wish list for a longtime, and I was finally able to add it to my collection recently. I'm certainly excited about catching my whale, but that also means the next whale is being hunted.

So that's my white whale story, what's yours? I would love to hear about any white whale you've caught or are currently chasing? Happy collecting and… "Enjoy Every Bounce of the Ball".

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Movie Review: "He Got Game"

Besides being a hoops film with the best name of a lead character ever, Jesus Shuttlesworth, He Got Game is a “Spike Lee Joint” that attempts to add a family dynamic to the Blue Chips basketball recruit movie theme. This attempt is nicely executed with the father-son relationship portrayed by Denzel Washington (Jake Shuttlesworth) and Ray Allen (Jesus Shuttlesworth), and separates He Got Game from other basketball movies.

He Got Game sets the tone for the film by introducing viewers to Denzel Washington’s character, Jake Shuttlesworth. The basic story line goes as follows: Jake is in prison for murder and a powerful politician will reduce or commute his sentence if Jake can convince his estranged son, Jesus Shuttleworth, to go to the powerful politicians’ alma mater, “Big State”. That is the basic plot of the film without giving anything away. Lee does a fantastic job of melding these plot lines together with the emotion of the father-son relationship and the realities of high profile collegiate recruiting.

The film also does a great job of showing the difficult choices a highly touted collegiate prospect will make amid endless temptation. He Got Game also shows the sociological aspects of where many of the best basketball players in America hale from. Often, many talented players come from less than advantageous socio-economic situations and are forced to not only make decisions based on their own individual dreams and aspirations, but also those of their entire family. He Got Game shows the struggles Jesus Shuttlesworth deals with as he deliberates over the futures of himself, his family and his estranged  father. 

I’m not a film critic so I’ll spear readers with my analysis of the technical aspects of the film, and will conclude with my final points on the basketball side of the film. He Got Game is a must watch for any basketball fan and certainly any top high school recruit. This is a basketball film that deals with many of the issues that top high school athletes will face off the court. The film might be slightly over the top with its portrayal of the dark side of collegiate recruitment, but the idea was to show the types of temptation and decisions that young athletes may have to make for themselves and others. From great character names to rich college boosters, He Got Game has it all.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2009 & 2010 UD SPx Shadow Box: Innovative or Unimaginative Gimmick?

In an age of sticker auto's and small relic/jersey patches, the need for trading card innovation is welcomed with open arms. It's no secret that I'm a big fan of the creative and sometimes outrageous designs of 90's inserts. I also appreciate and collect today's products, but I really get excited about what the 90's card industry had to offer. That's what made last year's football and hockey 2009 Upper Deck SPx Shadow Box cards so interesting.

That's right. I did write, "shadow bow". These cards feature a really cool 3d player image in the middle of the hallowed out trading card. This is not a totally new idea. Actually, it's similar to the '92 Fleer 3d acrylic basketball cards that were only available to collectors through a wrapper exchange. These cards are slightly different in that they are truly multi-layered with a separate image on the surface and inside the card. In addition, these cards are so nicely designed that they would even look cool without the shadow box effect, however, that effect really puts these cards over the top.

I first heard about these Shadow Box cards through fellow bloggers at Waxheaven and The Chronicles of Fuji. As you can imagine, these are pretty thick cards. Also, they're rare at an insertion rate of one per case. There also are autographed version that come with a separate COA card to guarantee authenticity. It's rumored that these auto'd bad boys have a very limited print run near five or less, so good luck with that. I'm happy with the Thurman Thomas I picked up recently for under $7.00 including shipping. That's a steal for this Bills fan.

There certainly has been a fair share of innovative and creatively designed products released over the past few years, but Upper Deck really came through with these Shadow Box cards. The 2010 SPx hockey and football products have been released and this year's Shadow Box cards are hitting eBay right now. With the recent troubles the Upper Deck company is rumored to be going through, it's nice to see they are still managing to putout some quality products that spark at least this collector's interest.

So you know my thoughts. I'm placing a vote for, "Yes, they are innovative and look great". I'm pretty excited to add this Thurman Thomas card to my collection, and I'll definitely be checking out the 2010 Shadow Box cards as they become available on eBay. That's enough from me. What do you think about Upper Deck's Shadow Box cards?