|1968 Aamco Transmission Postcard(s) Wilt Chamberlain
WELCOME to Nowbatting19's HOOPS Page! On this page, we will feature some terrific basketball cards. Topps Chewing Gum, Inc., the biggest bubble gum card maker on the planet, issued a major basketball set in 1957
but basketball was just not as popular with the kids, so it wasn't until 1969 that Topps began producing basketball cards again. Frank H. Fleer Company also issued early basketball cards in 1961-62 and these feature some
great early cards of Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Jerry West, to name a few; however this was their last effort. Topps not only had a monopoly on the baseball market, but it seems the basketball market
as well. My site is pretty well prejudiced as it features mostly baseball cards (as I think it is the best game ever!) but it is time to acknowledge the other sports as well. Except GOLF, as that is not a sport, but a retirement
game. Any game where you do not break a sweat is NOT a sport in my book. Same goes for playing cards. Playing cards is NOT a sport! It is playing cards. Period. And while I am on a roll, I also want to mention that
soccer is the most boring sport in the universe! There are only a couple things that happen in soccer. One is you have a bunch of guys or girls running around like chickens with their head's cut off. Then they try and kick the
ball into the net. The goalie tries to stop this. I would rather be an AMERICAN IDIOT and spend an hour watching "AMERICAN IDOL" than watch 5 minutes of soccer (actually I think I might watch soccer over "AMERICAN
IDOL"). Anyway enjoy our new hoops page! Tim
1973 Topps #240 Julius Erving AS 1971 Mattel Pete Maravich disc
In 1968 (or thereabouts) Aamco Transmissions produced a set of large postcards featuring some bigger than life sport figures. I was aware of only two players, Roger Maris of the St. Louis Cardinals, and Johnny Unitas of the
Baltimore Colts. However what is great about the world wide web is that someone, somewhere, will provide more information and in this case, I would like to give full credit to Brent Kondritz. Brent recently acquired the
Maris, Unitas, and this super Wilt Chamberlain postcard, which is really TWO separate postcards. I put them together so you can get the "full picture." This is just a terrific piece and I am so happy Brent provided these
scans so we can all enjoy them! Thanks Brent!!!
P.S. Speaking of the great Wilt Chamberlain, makes me think fondly of the Laker teams of old. You had the great Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt "The Stilt," the Laker teams of the 1980's which featured Magic Johnson,
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, and the terrific announcer through those great teams, Chick Hearn (RIP Chicky baby). Notice I am not going mention the Kobe Bryant/ Shaqullle O' Neal "soap opera" teams, which
caused me to care less about the Lakers. I was just reading in the papers today about how Kobe is "unhappy" with management, etc. These pampered pusses don't deserve any respect. Not from this fan. Reminds me of a
line from John Wayne in the movie "The Cowboys." Wayne's character says "it takes more than a big mouth to be a big man." So just shut the hell up and PLAY Kobe! If you were any leader you would kick some ass on the
team. Not bitch and whine like the wuss that you are. Aw blow it out!
| 1968 Topps Test #1 Wilt Chamberlain 1960 Leaf #37 Duke Snider
Here is another rare Wilt Chamberlain issue. Prior to Topps' 1969 basketball set (their first since 1957), they produced a "test issue." I don't know much about them except that they are very,
very rare. I spotted this example on eBay and being that I could not afford the $5,000 asking price (I think it was somewhere around there) I lifted the image and pasted it here so that other
collectors (like me) could see what they look like. To me, they look very much like the 1960 "Sports Novelties" (Leaf) baseball cards (see the above Duke Snider card, right). Maybe that's why they
were not produced. I don't know. What I do know, is that these 1968 Topps basketball test issues are very rare and very valuable. And that is all you need to know about these cards.
1981 Topps #4 Larry Bird 1981 Topps #21 Magic Johnson
Some collectors feel the 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card is THE basketcall card to own. I don't agree with that. If I had to choose the best basketball card of all-time I would choose the 1980-1981 Topps
Larry Bird/ Magic Johnson rookie card (btw, the 3-card panel also features the guy who was "AIR" before Jordan, Julius Erving). That card features the two players who put basketball on top. It was not Michael
Jordan. Additionally, the BIrd/ Magic Topps rookie card is much more affordable than Michael Jordan's 1986 Fleer rookie card. Either way, you can't go wrong with either choice but I think the 1980 Topps Bird/
Erving/ Magic card is the all-time best basketball card. You can see what their rookie card looks like by going to the All-Time Great Cards Page.
The above 1981 Topps cards of Larry Bird & Erving "Magic" Johnson are not their rookie cards, but second year cards. While not difficult to acquire by any means, they are difficult to find well centered. For some
reason, Topps again stopped producing basketball cards after this effort. It was not until 1991-1992, that they resumed the basketball series again.
1971 Topps #50 Jerry West
I was not a big hoops fan as a kid. I was primarily a baseball nut. However I do remember in the early 1970's my mom would buy us packs of cards (including both football and basketball) when we were sick. We
would rip into these packs and I really liked the bright colors Topps used in the 1971 and 1972 Topps sets. This is one of my favorites featuring Laker great, Jerry West. In the 3rd grade I remember we were watching
some film and Jerry West was in it. Some kid, I can only remember his first name, Jeff; anyway Jeff said out loud that he saw Jerry West. Well this is fine, except Jeff kept repeating this line, much to the chagrine of our
teacher who told him to stop it. Jeff kept on saying, amost singing, "I SAW JERRY WEST... I SAW JER-RY WE-EST.... I SAW JER-RRRY WE-ESST," etc., etc. Well the teacher had enough and escorted Mr. Jeff outside to
the back, outside of the classroom. And there Mr. Jeff proceeded to go into his 4-word song... "I SAW JER-RY WE-EST...." Why I remember this, I do not know. Jeff, if you are reading this, I hope you did see Jerry West.
1973 Topps #130 Pete Maravich
The Duke says...
"What in the HELL am I doing here???
1973 Topps #70 Oscar Robertson 1971 Topps #142 NBA Rebound Leaders
Basketball cards, especially 1970's Topps, are very good bargains. Tops stars like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Pete Maravich, Julius Erving, etc., can be had for a few bucks to about
$50 depending on condition. There are only a small handful of Topps cards from the seventies that get a bit expensive; Rookie cards of Maravich and Erving are probably the most expensive basketball cards of
the decade with graded NM examples selling for about $250 (1971 Topps #123 Maravich) and $130 (1972 Topps #130 Julius Erving). Ungraded cards would sell for even less. Other than those two cards,
most regular Topps basketball cards are pretty cheap. I just picked up the above two cards for about $10 each; it costs over $10 apiece just to have the cards graded by PSA! The 1973 Topps #70 Oscar
Robertson (above left) is one of his last cards and has a great action shot of Robertson going strong to the hoop. And check out the 1971 Topps #142 NBA Rebound Leaders card (above, right). 3 Hall
of Famers are pictured (Wilt Chamberlain, Elvin Hayes, & Lew Alcindor who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and all for just ten bucks or less! Now if that isn't a bargain, I don't know
1986 Fleer Basketball
Topps Chewing Gum, Inc. had a virtual monopoly on most sports and non-sports cards during the 1970s. However early in the 1980s, a lawsuit was filed and won by rival companies Donruss and Fleer. As a
result, the two companies began producing baseball cards in 1981 (without bubble gum). Topps Basketball cards were not selling on the same level as their baseball and football issues, hence Topps stopped
producing basketball cards following their 1981 effort. Star Company began producing basketball cards in the mid-eighties and these beautiful cards became very popular, though not considered a "major" set.
In 1987 Fleer changed all this with their first basketball set since 1962. The bright colorful cards were an immediate hit, helped by the slew of established star players and a crop of young rookies that were
included in the set. As a result of basketball's booming popularity (aided largely by Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan) Topps began producing cards again in 1992. The 1980's and 90's saw an
explosion in the hobby of too many card manufacturers to mention. Everyone wanted to cash in on the card market. Card shops appeared everywhere and everyone wanted a piece of the pie. As a result the
card manufacturers began producing mass quantities of cards, so much so that there was more supply than demand. Hence you have tons of cards from this time period that you practically can't give away. I
personally believe this 1986 Fleer basketball set is probably the last great basketball set. You can't ignore the importance of this set, the cards are very tough to find in high grades (9's or better), hence it is very
attractive to collectors. You don't even have to add the importance of the Jordan rookie card; arguably the best basketball card of all-time. Plus the set was made with enough scarcity that not everyone has
them. This is a true modern classic.
P.S. The 1986 Fleer #131 James Worthy card (above, center) is his rookie card. "BIG GAME JAMES" was my favorite Laker player and I got to go to the Lakers game when they retired his jersey (#42). "Magic
to Worthy...SLAAAAAAAAM Dunk!!!!" "The butter's getting hard and the Jell-O's jiggling; this game is in the refrigerator!" (Chick Hearn; we miss you Chickey Baby!)
1971 Topps Stickers 22 Pete Maravich, 23 Bob Kaufman, 24 John Havlicek 1971 Topps Stickers 31 Jerry West, 32 Willis Reed, 33 Chet Walker
Commonly referred to as "Topps Trios," these stickers featured three players on each card. Like the 1971 Topps baseball series, these stickers have jet black borders and show the tiniest hints of wear. With that in
mind, and the fact that many of these were used as, well, stickers, the 1971 Topps basketball stickers are very scarce to acquire in high grade. Topps also didn't help matters much by producing many of these off-center
(back then centering issues were not as important as they are today). Some of the games greatest players are featured on these stickers. This particular issue features Hall of Famers "Pistol" Pete Maravich and John
Havlicek ("HAVLICEK STOLE THE BALL! HAVLICEK STOLE THE BALL!!!"). Terrific hoops collectible from the 1970's.
1957 Topps #77 Bill Russell (Rookie card)
1975 Topps #300 Julius Erving
Ha-ha! Look at the Kentucky Colonel player getting "posterized" by the great "Doctor J." I love these 1970's Topps basketball cards. They have many of the games greatest players (including most of the "NBA's
50 Greatest Players), feature ABA teams and players (check out the Red, White & Blue basketball in Erving's hands), and are very inexpensive. When baseball was the "National Pastime" sports like basketball,
football and hockey took a back seat to baseball. Hence, these other sports cards were not as popular as baseball cards from the same time. In fact basketball cards were so unpopular with fans back in the
1970's - early 80's that Topps stopped production of basketball cards starting in 1982. They didn't start producing hoops cards again until 1992. Star Company picked up the slack and began producing
basketball cards in the 1980's, along with Fleer, which produced the classic 1987 Fleer set (see above). By the early 1990's companies like Upper Deck, Skybox, Hoops, and countless others begain mass
producing basketball cards, so much so that today these cards have little monetary value. So if you want to collect vintage basketball cards on a budget and want to pick up players like Wilt Chamberlain,
Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Pete Maravich, Jerry West, etc., your best bet is 1970's Topps cards. I just picked up this cool 1975 Topps #300 Julius Erving card, graded PSA 9 MINT
(OC) for about $20. Considering it costs about ten dollars to have the card professionally graded, I'd say that twenty bucks is a bargain!
1970's "Pistol" Pete Maravich press photograhs
1971 Globetrotters 84 #29 Freddie "Curly" Neal
1961 Fleer #66 Jerry West Snags A Rebound (Back view)
While Bowman Gum and Topps Chewing Gum Incorporated did produce the first mainstream basketball sets in 1949 and 1957 respectively, Frank H. Fleer Corp. followed suit in
1961. They produced a cool black and white card set (the team logos at the top were in color) featuring all of the big names of the day including Bob Cousey,Bob Pettit, Bill Russell, Dolph
Schayes and more. A stellar rookie crop that featuring Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, and Jerry West were also included as well as action shots of the stars (see above
1962 Fleer #66 Jerry West Snags A Rebound). Terrific set! But it was to be the Fleer Corporation's only basketball issue (mainstream) until it's 1986 Fleer set. Regardless both
sets are considered "classic" today with high graded examples selling for premium prices.
1986 Star Court Kings #2 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1984 Star Los Angeles Lakers Team Set (still sealed in bag)
Any basketball card collector has got to have at least one Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (formerly "Lew Alcindor"), the All Time NBA leader in points scored in their collection. Kareem had quite a career at both
College (UCLA) and Pro levels (Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers) were he was one of the best offensive threats ever. He won Championships with every team he was on and was known for his patented
"Sky Hook" shot that was virtually unstoppable. Star began producing beautiful color sets of basketball cards in the 1980's, even before Fleer's monumental 1986 set. The Star cards are unique in that they
were not issued in traditional wax packs, but in sealed team or set bags (see above, right). While not considered a major issue, the Star cards feature all of the greats of the era and can be fairly expensive
compared to most 1980's to present regular basketball cards. Jabbar's rookie card was included in the 1969 Topps set (card number 25; see picture below) and he is pictured as "Lew Alcindor." It lists for
$465 in graded NM condition. Late 1970's - 1980's Topps cards of Kareem are very affordable today and a terrific bargain.
1975 Topps #57 Bill Walton
UCLA was spoiled rotten to have both Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor) and Bill Walton as centers from the late '60's thru mid '70's. No wonder UCLA was a dominate force then. Both centers won NCAA
titles, multiple times. Both entered the NBA and won Championships for their respective teams (Kareem with Milwaukee and Los Angeles and Walton with Portland). Both centers are now in the Basketball Hall of
Fame. Check out the cool facial hair! The 1970's were a funky and cool era. Topps cards from this era are extremely affordable today. The 1975 Topps Basketball cards are truly "GIANT" cards, dwarfing the
regular standard cards. In fact they are also much bigger than the 1969-1970 Topps "Tall Boy" basketball cards (see below) as well. These cards are very undervalued!
1969 Topps #25 Lew Alcindor (Rookie card)
1980 Topps Larry Bird (R), Julius Erving, Magic Johnson (R)
With all due respect to the great basketball rookie cards out there, this 1980 Topps Larry Bird/ Magic Johnson combination rookie card is the best of the best. Many will say "well what about the
1986 Fleer Michael Jordan or the current LeBron James rookie card(s)(whatever they may be; I don't collect newer cards)." But how in the world can you ignore a rookie card with two of the greatest NBA
players ever, not to mention a Julius Erving (aka. "Dr. J.") scoring leader card sandwiched in-between? I'd take Larry Bird and Magic Johnson on my team any day over Michael Jordan or LeBron James. Both
Bird and Magic turned the NBA into what it is today. Add to the fact that these cards were intended to be pulled apart as "singles," centering problems, and the black print specks that plague this card, it
makes for a very tough card to acquire in high grade. Even in a PSA 8 holder, this card is very undervalued at $220. You can pick up a graded NM example for about $100! Compare to Jordan's 1986
Fleer rookie card ($675 in a PSA 8) and you can see what I mean. Very undervalued card and my pick for best basketball card EVER!
Note the similarity between this 1980 Topps basketball card and the black bordered 1971 Topps "Trio" Sticker above on this page.
|January 14, 1974 Sports Illustrated "What's Up? Doctor J" (Julius Erving)
|The late great "Pistol" Pete Maravich. During his tenure in college with LSU, the amazing "Pistol Pete" averaged over 44.2 points a game! And not just one season; this was his entire college career! A wizard
with a basketball, Maravich could do it all. I would not be surprised if he didn't sleep with a basketball. After college, Maravich played for the Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Jazz, and Boston Celtics of the NBA
and thrilled everywhere he went. He averaged 24.2 points per game and scored 15948 points in a short 10 year career. He was elected to the Basketball Hall Of Fame in 1987 and was also named as one of
the "50 Greatest Players in NBA History." Maravich had a troubled soul but became a born again Christian after this playing career had ended. On January 5, 1988 Maravich died while playing a pick-up game
of basketball in Pasadena California gym. He was only 40 years old. It is ironic that Pete Maravich died in a church gym; he had found religion and was at last, in peace. For more on Pete Maravich, you can
check out the Pistol Pete 23 website.
Sorry I am not savy on basketball stats and figures, but I do know that Bill Russell was a key member of the Boston Celtics when they won something like 9 Championships in the decade. Is that right? I know
it was something like that. Lakers couldn't beat 'em until the early seventies. So that might be some sort of record for a basketball player (nearly 10 Championship Rings? One for each finger? Wow). In baseball
I know Joe DiMaggio had a nice collection of Championship rings as well. But I don't think as many as Bill Russell. This is the big man's rookie card from the classic 1957 Topps set. This was Topps' first major
hoops release. The Russell of course is the key to the set.