Monday, November 22, 2010

2010 Ultimate Basketball or Ultimately Disappointing?

I'm not a huge fan of focusing on the negatives. In fact, I have a Master's degree in Sport Psychology and strive to take something positive out of everything I do. I also try to focus on the positives of every product I review here on Hoopography. With that said, I also value a truthful and as objective product review as possible. In an attempt to follow those values and product review principles,  I took my time in putting this 2010 Ultimate Basketball review together.

Like many collectors, I've been a fan of Upper Deck design since the companies first release in 1989. That also means I was saddened when Upper Deck lost it's NBA license last year. I wrongfully assumed that meant UD would not be producing basketball trading card products for the foreseeable future. To my pleasant surprise, I was wrong. Upper Deck announced several months ago a number of upcoming basketball releases featuring images obtained utilizing its NCAA agreements. Unquestionably, the most anticipated basketball product of this year from UD was the recently released 2010 Ultimate Basketball product.

Ultimate has been a staple product line for UD in all four major sports for the better part of the decade. I myself was excited to hear UD was still going to release Ultimate Basketball for 2010, and even more intrigued that it would be comprised of images and autographs from the best collegiate basketball players of all-time. Because of the names involved, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, David Robinson, Julius Erving, etc., I thought this product had the opportunity to be the best basketball product of 2010.

As previously mentioned, I don't like to focus on the negatives, but they need to be stated in any type of objective review. The biggest problem with this year's Ultimate basketball is an issue that has plagued the hobby in the past few years, sticker auto's. Upper Deck had the opportunity to create a basketball product that featured some of the best collegiate stars of all-time, and instead of putting 100 percent into that product, the stickers seem to cheapen 2010 Ultimate.

The other obvious issue is with a number of the black and white Ultimate Legends auto's. These are the hugely successful one per case cards that have been featured in the Ultimate Football products for a number of years (click here) and are making their first appearance in the basketball line. First off, these are the few on-card auto's in the product and most are tremendous. However, some of the auto's have a dark background that makes it difficult to even make out the auto (click here). Auto's are certainly great, but what good are they if you can't see them?

The sticker auto's and almost invisible on-card auto's are certainly frustrating, but UD did do a number of things right with Ultimate Basketball. The player checklist is a dream list for basketball junkies like me. That list includes Mullin, Hardaway, Hurley, Wilkins, Olajuwon and some of the biggest stars of today. I also really like the inscription auto's. What collector doesn't like inscription auto's? For some odd reason, all the Christian Laettner auto'd cards are on-card. That's why I picked up the card you see in the post image. So this is certainly a product that is yielding some great singles.

As excited as I and I'm sure many collectors were for this product to come out, eBay sales have dropped quickly in the past few weeks since Ultimate Basketball was released. The original retail price was right around $85 - $90 a box. Here's a two box completed auction lot that sold for a very modest $86.50 (click here). There's a lot to like about Ultimate Basketball, but ultimately… it's disappointing.

I'd like to hear what fellow collectors think about 2010 Ultimate Basketball. Is it truly ultimate, or is it just ultimately disappointing?


  1. Since I've already gotten an email about my review (i love the emails and comments btw. the are appreciated), I want to clarify. It's not that I hate Ultimate Basketball, on the contrary. There are actually a number of singles I'm chasing. It's not that I think Ultimate is a bad product. Ultimate is a good product that could have been the best of the year, and that's what makes it disappointing.

    So that's my take. What's yours.

  2. I'd consider buying it at $43.25/box... but there's no way I'm paying the SRP of $85 to $90. It's kind of a toss up w/ Press Pass Legends... which might not have the same level of players... but they don't use sticker autos like Ultimate.

  3. @Fuji, at $85 a box, you could get a sticker JR Reed card and 3 base cards. Do I want the Reed card featuring that high flat top from the late 80's? Absolutely!!! Do I think I should pay $85 for it? No!!! More on-card auto's would have made such a difference.

    The Jordan's are all on-card and do look great, but it's not likely to pull one.

  4. I guess I beat the odds I bought one pack and pulled a Michael Jordan auto legends.