Saturday, July 31, 2010

Buffalo Bills Prospecting: James Hardy

I went to a Buffalo Bills open practice a little over a month ago at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY. I try to get to a few practices and training camps of a few teams (Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings) during the course of an offseason or preseason. I'm usually one of those fans sitting there with an updated roster sheet taking detailed notes on each player. You know, just in case any NFL GM wants my "expert" advice. While I was at the Bills practice, I couldn't help but notice one player towering over all the others.

James Hardy is a 6 foot 5 inch 220 pound physical specimen of a wide receiver. Granted, he may have looked so imposing because he was standing next to 5 foot 9 inch Bills receiver Roscoe Parrish, non the less he did look huge out there on the field.

Hardy was originally drafted in the second round by the Bills in the 2008 NFL Draft. The team had been looking for a nice compliment on the opposite side of the field of Lee Evans. The thought was that Hardy could fill that role and be a much needed large target in the red zone. After having some early issues with route running and the speed of the NFL game, Hardy also endured a torn ACL injury toward the end of his rookie season. After a full year of rehab, it looks like Hardy is finally ready to make a significant impact on the field for the Bills.

With the departure of free agent Terrell Owens, the Bills have a huge opening for an ultra physical number two wide receiver, and I think Hardy is poised to fill that role. Because of this hunch, and the modest prices his cards are selling for, I've picked up a few of the higher end Hardy RC's that you see in this post. All three are Upper Deck Exquisite cards serial numbered to 60 or less. There's one more Hardy RC I'm looking for (click here), but they've gone up in price during the past few weeks. It looks like other collectors have the same thoughts on Hardy as I do.

To say I'm excited for NFL training camps to open up is an understatement. Surely, this little James Hardy endeavor that I've taken up should make the upcoming season a little more interesting for this Bills die hard. Hopefully the former Indiana Hoosier will be able to put up some respectable numbers.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Who Has the Coolest Nickname in the NFL Today?

So I'm sure there are plenty of current NFL players out there with great nicknames, but Calvin "Megatron" Johnson takes the cake for me. At 6 - 5 and 236 pounds, "Megatron" is one beast of a wide receiver. The second overall pick of the Detroit Lions in the 2007 NFL Draft has put up solid numbers for the Lions with a myriad of Quarterbacks. With second year quarterback Mathew Stafford in the fold now, it looks like the city of Detroit will have a dynamic passing attack for years to come. Johnson should also reach the lofty status of a must have in the hobby by football collectors with the anticipated improvements of his stats and his team.

Most of the football cards I collect are of either current and past Buffalo Bills ballers or Bo Jackson, but I just can't resist collecting cards of a player with the cool nickname of "Megatron". I have a few of his base rookie cards like this '07 Topps RC, but I also picked up this '09 Upper Deck Exquisite triple color patch that you see below as part of my UD Exquisite Football Collection Experiment.

So what do you think? Is "Megatron" the best nickname in the entire NFL or is there another nickname that you like better?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Another 90's Insert Set: '94 UD Triple Double

The card industry in the 90's was filled with creativity and innovation. As many of you know, I'm a huge fan of the 90's insert sets. Don't get me wrong, I collect cards from many sports and many eras, but 90's basketball inserts are my passion. Unfortunately, many of those great sets come with a hefty price tag. I'm currently piecing together a few sets, but one that I've been able to complete is the 1994 Upper Deck Triple Double insert set.

This is not one of the most acclaimed sets of the 90's, but it features some really cool design elements and some of the biggest stars from the mid 90's NBA. The set was fairly easy to complete as I had a few of the cards already. Also, the set has a very manageable $20 book value. The Jordan is the only card that really sells for more than $1 (click here). It has a book value of $15, but never even comes close to that number. Aside from the Jordan, the Scottie Pippen is the other "big" value card in the set at a whopping $4. I'm sure you could pick it up for $.99, if so inclined.

There are ten card in the entire set and they were inserted in to Series 1 packs at the rate of 1:20. They were also inserted one in every Series 1 Green Jumbo pack. The checklist of players that were included in this set include, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kenny Anderson, Larry Johnson, Dikembe Mutombo, Charles Barkley, Detlef Schrempf, Rumeal Robinson and Michael Williams. Any insert set with Detlef Schrempf in it is good in my book.

Upper Deck really utilized the fairly new hologram technology extensively during the early and mid 90's. This card features both the tradition cardboard and hologram technologies. There is a thin sheet of traditional paper that covers the hologram in the areas that the hologram is not visible. This may look archaic today, but way back in 1995 this was cutting edge stuff. No doubt though, the best part of these cards is the vibrant colors UD used in the backgrounds to match the players uniforms. The use of color in the design of these cards really makes them standout.

It's tough to really appreciate how cool the hologram part of these cards looks, but hopefully you can get a good look at this Charles Barkley UD Triple Double insert.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Holy Gold Refractor: '97 Juwan Howard Topps Finest Gold Refractor

I picked this 1997 Topps Finest Gold Refractor Juwan Howard a few weeks ago for a cool $1.25 plus $3.00 for shipping. I thought that was a pretty good deal. I know Howard isn't exactly LeBron James or Michael Jordan, but there are some really great parallels and inserts out there of the former Fab Fiver. I like collecting some of those great cards because they don't hurt the card budget too much and they're great additions to my collection.

It seems Howard has played for just about ever team in the Association. In fact, he's played for eight teams (Dallas and Denver twice) during his sixteen season career. Howard joined the Miami Heat a couple of weeks ago as a free agent. Although Howard has never played a game for Pat Riley and the Heat in previous seasons, this is the second time Howard has signed a free agent contract to play down in South Beach. Many forget that this year's mega free agent frenzy was not the first such of its kind, and arguably, not the greatest.

The free agent class of 1996 included Michael Jordan, a young Shaquille O'neal, Alonzo Morning, Allan Houston, Kenny Anderson, Reggie Miller, Gary Payton, Juwan Howard and more. Howard was signed to a huge deal with the Heat to team up with 'Zo and Tim "Killer Crossover" Hardaway. Fortunately or unfortunately for the Heat, David Stern and the NBA voided the contract because of some salary bonus and cap issues. That may have tuned out to be a blessing as the eventual $105 million contract that Howard singed with the then Washington Bullets has been seen as a cautionary tale for NBA GM's across the league. Although Howard has had a very nice career, he did not end up putting up $105 million stats.

The Howard '97 Topps Finest Gold Refractor is a really great looking card. Like many collectors, I'm a huge fan of refractors and the Gold Refractors look even cooler. This is the second '97 Finest Gold Refractor I've added to my collection. I also recently bought a Kevin Garnett Gold Refractor (click here).

I've always rooted for Howard since the Fab Five days. I would like to see him finally win an NBA Championship. He's had a solid career, and is a consummate professional, but I just can't get behind the Miami Heat.

Monday, July 26, 2010

NY Yankee Prospecting

Ok, so it's a little bit of a stretch to call this post "Yankee Prospecting". It seems like every MLB fan and Yankees collector knows who Jesus Montero is. Sure, he's no Steven Strasburg or Jayson Heyward, but Montero is one of the most highly tauted prospects in the minors today. I've seen Montero as high as 5th on some of the top 100 MLB prospect charts, and as low as 11th. He was signed as a catcher, but most scouts see Montero as a DH or first baseman. It should be interesting to see what the Yankees do with Montero as they are pretty well set at first base with Mark Teixeira, and Fransico Cervelli backing up starting catcher Jorge Posada. I hope Montero remains in the Yankees organization long enough to don the pinstripes, but his name comes up on every potential trade the Yankees are involved in.

The card is a 2008 Topps Bowman Chrome RC Blue Refractor #'d 87/99. I really like the look of that light blue around the border of the card. The Bowman cards are some of the best RC's in the hobby today. I'd love to bust a box of Bowman Chrome wax open from any year as I'm sure many collectors would. I think they feature a pretty simple and card clean design that just seems to work. I have a few cards of top Yankee prospects, but this Montero is certainly my favorite.

And The Winner Is….

Congratulations to Mark over at for winning the 2010 Court Kings LeBron James Masterpieces jersey card (Mark, make sure to email me a mailing address so I can get you the card. I'll be out of town all this week, so I'll try to get it out to you ASAP). There were eight total entries and the contest actually came down to the errors and home runs.

No one guessed the correct final score of hits so I moved on to the errors. Both Joe Smo and Fuji had the Cardinals with one error and the Cubs with zero errors, but Fuji also guessed the home run totals correct as well with the Cardinals at two and the Cubs with zero. You can see Mark's winning entry in the image below. Click here to see all entires.

Thank you to all who participated. I hope this contest was fun. This was the first contest/giveaway I've done on Hoopography, and I'd like to do more. If companies like Panini continue to send me products for review, I'll continue to give cards away. Happy collecting and… "Enjoy Every Bounce of the Ball".
(ESPN Box Score for contest game)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Poll: What 12 Players Should USA Basketball Bring To The FIBA World Championships?

USA Basketball held an intra-squad showcase last night in Las Vegas. The play was a bit sloppy to say the least, but it was a good way for Team USA coaches Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Mike D'Antoni, Nate McMillan and Managing Director Jerry Colangelo to make roster evaluations. There's currently 19 players on the roster that needs to be chopped down to 12 for the FIBA World Championships in late August. Which 12 players do you think should represent the USA at the World Championships (multiple answered allowed)?

What 12 players should USA Basketball bring to the FIBA World Championships?
Jeff Green
O.J. Mayo
Lamar Odom
Brook Lopez
Danny Granger
JaVale McGee
Derrick Rose
Rajon Rondo
Rudy Gay
Russell Westbrook
Andre Iguodala
Eric Gordon
Tyreke Evans
Kevin Durant
Chauncey Billups
Tyson Chandler
Stephen Curry
Kevin Love
Gerald Wallace free polls

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hoopography Top 25

Just before I made the switch from iWeb over here to, I started a little series of posts counting down my favorite 25 cards I've been luck enough to add to my collection called, "Hoopography Top 25". I started the countdown off with an honorable mention post, consisting of cards that just missed being in the top 25. Those honorable mention cards can be seen in the image to the left. Most of those cards are Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'neal 90's inserts with an Iverson RC refractor thrown in for good measure.

It's really fun going through a countdown like this because it gets collectors to really appreciate the cards they have, instead of the cards they wish they had. I've been lucky enough to add a number of really great cards with a limited budget. No card in my entire collection has cost over $35 and no card you see in this post cost me more than the one outlier at $23. In fact, many of the cards in the countdown I purchased for right around $7 - $12.

I got all the way to number 18 in the countdown before I made the switch over to The first third of the countdown is pretty diverse. There're some cool old school basketball auto's (early 90's is old school to me), some NY Yankees cards and a few of my hometown Buffalo Bills cards. With some of these cards it's really about the player like the Hoops Dreams co-star, Arthur Agee, but it's also about the card design for a few of the others. I love the '97 SPx Cornerstones Jeter/A-Rod design. It's basically the same as the '97 SPx ProMotion basketball and football sets that I'm currently attempting to put together. The '98 EX-2000 Credentials card of Andy Petite also features one of my all-time favorite card design. All-in-all, these are some great cards and they were really fun to add to the collection.

So these are some of my favorite cards, what are some of your own favorites that you've been able to add to your collection? Stay tuned for a post on number 17 in my "Hoopography Top 25" countdown!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

FIRST LOOK: 2011 Panini NBA Prestige

Panini's first year foray with its license to produce NBA basketball cards is almost over. There's still a few more highly anticipated products coming out toward the end of summer including Crown Royale, Hall of Fame and National Treasures, but it's almost time to start thinking about next year's products. I received an email through Panini's Media Relations Program with a sneak peek at their first 2011 basketball release.

Panini's 2010 NBA Prestige release was a nice product that had a little something for everyone, and although still a little too far out, it looks like this coming 2011 release will follow suit. I know there were some mixed reviews of likes and dislikes regarding last year's Prestige release, but I was a fan. I understand that Prestige is not a product in the same mold of a UD Black or Panini National Treasures. At approximately $90 for a 24 pack hobby box, it's relatively affordable for most collectors. The suggested retail price for the 2011 packs is $4. I bought a few packs of 2010 Prestige last year and had a lot of fun opening them. From the early looks of it, the 2011 product will be even better.

It looks like Panini has listened to collectors as they claim there will be more than 20,000 on-card auto's in this years Prestige product with the on-card auto'd Kobe Bryant cards being the most sought after cards in the entire product. It also looks like there'll be four auto and/or memorabilia hits per hobby box which is similar to last year's product. In addition to the first on-card auto's of various 2011 rookies, this will also be the first product to feature the recently relocated free agents like Boozer, Bosh and Stoudemire.

The Prestige card design is very modern with a clean and crisp geometric look to it. This Steve Nash Playmakers auto is a great example of that geometric design. This is similar to last years design, however there looks to be a bit more vibrant color in the background of the cards. I would've like to have seen an example of what the base cards are going to look like. Although many collectors today collect auto's and patches, it's always nice when a product has a high quality or solid base card design. Last year's Prestige base set was quite large by today's standards and featured some NBA Legends and rookie SP cards. Hopefully, the 2011 set will continue those characteristics.

There'll also be some Prime Materials jersey/ patches (Prime is the designation Panini gives to its multi-colored jersey/patches). For example, this Allen Iverson Franchise Favorites has a Prime patch. It's a bit small, but I'm glad Panini didn't cut into an image of a player to arbitrarily fit a single colored jersey swatch in the middle of a card (Well… at least they didn't cut into Iverson, just the poor sap A.I. blew bye). This was a complaint I had with some of last years products that it looks like Panini may have addressed.

It looks like 2011 Panini Prestige will be a nice release to start the new product year out with. I look forward to seeing more images and information released by Panini about the product, and I'll make sure to post anything else I hear right here on the blog or on the Hoopography Facebook Fan Page. What are some of your thoughts on this first look of 2011 Panini Prestige?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The '09 UD Exquisite Football Collection Experiment

UD released its 2009 Exquisite Football Collection in late March. Since then, I've wondered if I could actually add one or two of these awesome cards to my collection. Let's face it, these Exquisite cards aren't too cheap. They feature beautiful designs, great multi-colored patches and on-card auto's all on a thick card-stock. In addition to all those great qualities, they also carry hefty price tags. Whether you're lucky enough to buy a case, box or some singles, you're going to spend a pretty penny. Still, a collector can dream.

Lucky for me, my birthday came around earlier this summer, and I saved a few extra bucks for a birthday gift. I was going to by a box of basketball cards, but I'm like a kid in a candy store when I see new products regardless of sport. Actually, I'm like me in a candy store (Nerds and Vanilla Charleston Chews). So as my birthday approached in June, I decided to use my self-appropriated funds to buy a few '09 UD Exquisite Football cards instead of a box of hoops cards.

I had $100 saved up for my birthday basketball box, so that meant I now had $100 for a few Exquisite Football cards. My goal was to buy five or six cards with that money. So far, I've spent $53 on five cards (including shipping) from that original $100. I think I've done a pretty good job of finding good deals and nice cards that I'm excited to add to my collection. I'm no math major, but that leaves me $47 to add one last really sweet Exquisite card. Here're the five cards I've added to my collection thus far:

('09 UD Exquisite Lee Evans Auto-Biography Hinged Booklet)

Hoopography's Top YouTube Videos: Kermit's "Happy Feet"

For NBA fans, we're in the doldrums of inactivity between free agency winding down and approximately two long months from the start of the next NBA season. Fortunately, most fans today root for more than one team or sport. I've been catching every NY Yankees game that I can and FIFA's World Cup was a nice distraction too. There'll also be some pretty good international basketball being played in the upcoming FIBA World Championships starting August 18th (click here).

Even with all these great sporting events to enjoy, I still miss the NBA. Whenever that happens, I watch one of my favorite videos on YouTube featuring Sesame Street's favorite green frog, Kermit. This commercial is from the early 90's and was apart of the NBA's "I Love This Game" marketing campaign. Enjoy the video and… "Every Bounce of the Ball".

(RSS subscribers and third party site readers, click here to view post media/videos)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mail Time From TJ At All Your Base Cards Belong to Us

I got a bunch of cards in the mail the other day from TJ over at Other than having one of the cooler blog names around, "All Your Base Cards Belong To Us", TJ does a great job of posting fun trading card, Portland Trailblazers and pop cultural posts. TJ is a part of what I've dubbed, "The Oregon Trail", a group of talented bloggers who hail from the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Some of the blogs these guys represent include: The Basketball Card Blog, All Your Base Cards, The Trailblazers Card Blog and Cards on Cards. I wrote a post on the old Hoopography iWeb site chronicling this phenomenon of great sports card related blogs from that part of the country several months ago (click here to read more about "The Oregon Trail").

Back to the cards TJ sent. I received four team bags full of great New York Knickerbockers, Yankees and Buffalo Bills cards. TJ said he was going to send me a few cards, but what he ended up sending me was way more than what I expected! I sent him a package of some Trailblazers and Red Sox cards. Hopefully you like what I sent you TJ.

There were way too many cards for me to list every single one, so here're a few of my favorites from the lot:

(This 2010 Panini Prestige C.J. Spiller RC
is my favorite from the lot. Thanks TJ.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

2010 Court Kings LeBron James Masterpieces Jersey Contest/Giveaway

Panini sent me a box of 2010 Court Kings for review and I thought it'd be fun to have a contest to giveaway a really nice LeBron James Masterpieces Jersey card that I pulled from said box. You can read my review by clicking here or checking out the Hoopography homepage.

It was difficult to think of a fun basketball contest to giveaway a basketball card. After all, the NBA regular season doesn't start for a couple of months and the NBA Summer League just concluded over the weekend. So I thought I'd take a look at what the boys of summer had to offer. In particular, a nationally televised game. It turns out the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs will be facing off on ESPN at 8:00 PM ET this Sunday the 25th. So the contest for the James card will be to guess the box score of the game for both teams.

The Rules and Tie Breakers:
  • Guess the Runs, Hits, Errors, &, Home Runs for both Cardinals and Cubs
  • Have your entry posted to the comments section of this post no later then 11:59 pm ET. of this Saturday, July 24th (entries received on Sunday will not be counted)
  • One entry per participant.
  • If you do not have a verified account (meaning: Google Account, Wordpress Account, Blogger Account, Open Id, etc., you will need to email me at so I can make sure unverified participants do not submit multiple entries).
  • You must submit a guess for each category (runs, hits, errors & home runs) for both teams for a total of eight answers (note example image at end of post).
  • The winner will have to email me their address at when the contest is over so I can send them their prize.
  • Although not required, placing a link to this contest on your blog or forum will help make the contest more fun and help to spur-on networking amongst collectors (which is the ultimate goal of Hoopography).
  • The tiebreakers work as follows: Who ever guesses the final score of the game for both teams wins (not combined score, but the actually final score between the two teams). If there are multiple submissions with the correct final score of the game, we will go to correct amount of hits for each team. If there is still a tie, we will go to errors. Finally, if there is still a tie after guessing the correct final score of the game, hits for each team and errors for each team, we'll look at home runs for each team. I will use ESPN's website to obtain the box score to compare submissions.
  • Please Note: I do realize the contest is inherently flawed. For example, there is a chance we could have a tie after the hits category and no one guessed the amount of errors right. That would mean we would have multiple participants who guessed the runs and hits right, but no one who guessed the errors right. In that scenario, we would go on to the next category of home runs. If there is still a tie, I would put the remaining participants in a randomizer. I'm hoping that someone will guess the box score correctly so I do not have to use the randomizer. So good luck and happy guessing!
Tie Breakers:
  1. Final score/runs of the game for each team
  2. Final amount of hits for each team
  3. Final amount of errors for each team
  4. Final amount of home runs for each team
Example Image (This is an example of what the formatting in the comments section should look like):

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The First Lady of Hockey

There are many great women athletes that have pioneered there respective sport over the past century. Many of those women from Babe Didrikson to Billy Jean King helped to change the perception that women could not participate in sports. One of those women with equal importance to her respective sport is Manon Rheaume. She certainly has not enjoyed the same long lasting notoriety as maybe a Jackie Joyner-Kersee or Mia Hamm, but her contribution to women's sport and sport in general should not be overlooked. Rheaume was the first female athlete to ever play in an NHL preseason hockey game.

She was signed as a free agent by the Tampa Bay Lighting and competed in an NHL exhibition game during both the '92 and '93 preseasons. After her time with the Lighting, she went on to win two gold medals for the Women's Canadian Hockey Team at the Hockey World Championships in '92 and '94. She also won a silver medal in the '98 Winter Olympics for team Canada.

Although brief, her stint with the Lightning set off a collecting frenzy in the trading card hobby. Her '92 Auto'ed RC's from the Classic company were so hot that their retail prices rivaled fellow hobby star Shaquille O'neal. Both were rookies at the time and had some great cards produced by Classic. The '92 Classic Four-Sport Rheaume card you see in this post is generally regarded as her true rookie card, even though there are a number of Rheaume cards that were produced during that time.

I'm still looking for a few of her certified auto'd cards produced by Classic. I remember when her cards came out and the frenzy they created in the hobby. I'd love to add a couple of those auto'd cards to my collection.

Friday, July 16, 2010

2010 Panini Court Kings Box Break Review

I received a box of 2010 Panini Court Kings yesterday from Panini America for review. I've been waiting for this product to come out ever since Panini started posting product images on their Facebook page (click here). All-in-all, it was a fun box to open with some really good looking cards, but I also had a couple of knitpicking complaints that I'll get into. First thing's first though, I need to thank Panini for thinking enough of Hoopography to send me a box for review. This is the second box I've received from Panini for review, Timeless Treasures being the first. Also, I will be giving away one of the cards from this box right here on the blog, so look for an upcoming contest giveaway sometime this weekend or early this coming week.

As mentioned above, I've been waiting for 2010 Court Kings to come out for a few months now. The cards have a "painting on canvas" look to them that I think looks really great and adds a sort of elegant sophistication to trading cards. Simply, its a little something different in an industry that is often flooded by the same designs product after product. No where is this "painting on canvas" effect more evident than on the box topper.

The Court Kings box toppers are part of a 5 x 7, 50 card sub set. Each box contains one individually sealed box topper. I opened it last and it was like opening an added bonus after going through the 11 card pack. Some of these box toppers are auto'd and I'm sure would be a great addition to any collection. The box topper in my box was this Devin Harris card numbered 111/349. If you look at a checklist for Court Kings, you'll see quite an impressive list of current and former NBA stars including: Kobe, Patrick Ewing, Kevin Durant, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Chris Bosh and Pete Maravich.

There were four base cards in the eleven card box. Each card is serial numbered depending on whether the card is a non-parallel #'d/450, a bronze #'d/149 or a silver #'d/99. The David Lee was a low print #'d 03/99! I'm never opposed to metal foiling of any kind. However, I wish David Lee was still with the Knicks so I could add this low print card to my PC.

I'm a big fan of great photography and Court Kings delivers on that. It's also cool how some background details are highlighted and some aren't due to the "painting on canvas" effect. This characteristic is really evident toward the top of the Hedo Turkoglu card with the blue arena advertising standing out. Plus I really like how KG is coming around Hedo to block his shot. Because of how the Celtic Green stands out, it almost looks like the card is supposed to feature KG and not Hedo. These Court Kings base cards are pretty solid all the way around, and the parallels add another fun dimension.

For as much as I liked the base cards, I felt these Artistry inserts were pretty pedestrian. They're basically a base card with out the great action shots or cool backgrounds. I do however like how tuff Carmelo looks and am rooting for the Knicks to trade Eddie Curry to the Nuggets for 'Melo. Hey, A guy can dream… right?

Each box is supposed to contain four auto's or memorabilia cards per box, but I was lucky enough to pull four auto'd/memorabilia cards plus a rookie redemption. That's a total of five in an eleven card box. Not too bad. In past Panini releases, I had been critical of some of the patch/jersey placements that were simply cut into the middle of a players torso. That design flaw is not a problem in Court Kings. Checkout the Allen Iverson dual jersey #'d 46/99. The memorabilia was placed on the sides so as not to arbitrarily cut into the image of the player. One complaint I do have about this card is the centering of the foiled "Court Kings" logo. It's… "just a bit outside", thanks Bob Eucker.

The Wayne Ellington Rookie Auto is nice. Nothing to get too excited about. It's #'d 194/649 and looks cool because of that "painting on canvas" effect again. I'm not a fan of sticker auto's, but I do understand their place in the hobby to keep product prices down. Also, there're plenty of other subsets in Court Kings 2010 that do feature on-card auto's.

As mentioned, I did receive a redemption. I know some collectors despise redemption cards, but I'm not one of them. I think they're fun and I've heard from other collectors that Panini does a pretty good job about getting them out to collectors in a reasonable amount of time. I was obviously hoping the rookie redemption I pulled would be for Blake Griffin or Brandon Jennings, but it was instead for Jonas Jerebko. He actually did have a decent rookie season last year with 9.3 points and 6 rebounds/game. It could be a good prospecting card in the future.

The final memorabilia cards that I pulled were pretty nice. This is the second Lebron James Jersey card I've pulled in the last two boxes of Panini product that I've opened. Those are pretty good odds, and this John Stockton card with the old school Jazz uniform isn't a bad looking card either. The James card is from the "Masterpieces" insert set that features 20 current and past NBA Stars. Again the "painting on canvas" theme is carried through the "Masterpieces" set and is even highlighted with the picture framing image on the card. Panini also came through again with the great photography and action shots. Just like a Van Gogh, James' expression is priceless. The "Dribble Kings" Stockton card is my favorite out of the entire box. The card is #'d 88/299 and is part of a 15 card sub set. Those are some short shorts Stockton is sporting there, but it's still a cool looking card.

The bottom line on Panini's 2010 Court Kings is that it's a pretty well done product that I would definitely recommend. Between the individually sealed box topper, four memorabilia /auto'd cards and redemption card, this was a fun box to open. Also, I can't say enough about the "painting on canvas" effect on all the cards. It really brings out the subtle details from a players tattoos to the arena advertising. My only complaint is really a luck of the draw complaint. I can't argue with five auto'd/memorabilia cards in a box that's supposed to yield four, but one on-card auto or prime patch would've been nice (prime: Panini's designation for a mutli-colored jersey swatch/patch). Again, that is simply the luck of the draw and me knit-picking. All-in-all though, this was a fun product to open and continues to show how Panini's basketball products improve release after release.

Ok, so you probably read about an hour ago that I'd be giving away a card from this box. If you managed to read the entire review, you deserve to know which card that will be. I'll announce a contest either this Sunday or Monday for one lucky reader to win the LeBron James "Masterpieces" jersey card #'d 194 of 299. So stay tuned and good luck!