(If you missed Part 1, in which we counted down from 20-11, click here)
10. Jeff Lamp (Hoops 1989-90) via @marcofullartano
Is it even necessary, or possible, to describe the irradiant brilliance of card #144 of the ’89-90 NBA Hoops series?
To the individual deep within the bowels of Hoops HQ who went into full #StriveForGreatness mode in designing this masterpiece, we are forever grateful.
9. Andrej Lemanis “Andre Lemamis” (Futera 1993) via @nblfacts
The head coach of the Boomers won a ring playing for South East Melbourne Magic in 1992, but that clearly didn’t entitle him to have his first or last name spelt correctly the following season.
We felt that this list wouldn’t be complete without an error card. We hope, in time, you’ll forgive us.
NB: The story of the most infamous error card in sporting collectibles history is worth a read.
8. Alonzo Mourning Die-Cut (Upper Deck SE 1993-94) via @BeestonAndy
The Upper Deck SE Die-Cut All-Star set debuted in 1994 and still demands reasonable money to this day.
This set is an excellent example of the clean Upper Deck aesthetic of the era, with similar sets to the original released through the 2000s.
A particular card that we would like to highlight from the ’03 -04 collection is the Zarko Cabarkapa “Future NBA All-Star” card:
The 17th pick of the 2003 draft, Cabarkapa’s brief NBA career started horrifically and never really recovered. Despite our voting push, he did not make an All-Star team.
Though he did not quite live up to lofty expectations, Zarko will forever be one of The Locker Room’s favourite sons after going out of his way to posterize our arch-nemesis Richard Jefferson.
For an indication on value of the more popular examples, this 2007-08 Jordan card sold for $560 on eBay earlier this year. You could get those Concord XIs for that money.
NB: Thanks to @davidpikard who dropped a ’93-94 Sprewell Die-Cut too.
7. Yuta Tabuse Pristine Refractor (Topps 2004-05) via @Avianfluman
Yuta Tabuse became the first Japanese-born player to play in the NBA when he suited up for Phoenix against Atlanta in 2004.
It was in this game that he connected on the only made field goal of his career, a three-pointer. For the Japanese, it was sugoi desu ne for real.
Tabuse played four more NBA games than we’ll ever play, but beyond this what reason could we possibly have for including this card at no. 7?
Well, there once existed a basketball store in Tokyo called Wanna Bee (?).
It was in this baller’s paradise that the opportunity to acquire a Tabuse t-shirt presented itself, but was let slip.
Let our Tabuse tale of pain and regret be a cautionary one. Carpe Diem - seize the merchandise.
6. Shaquille O’Neal Beam Team (Stadium Club 1993-94) via @McBuckets516
While it is the ’92-93 version that still fetches a pretty penny online, it is the ’93-94 Shaquille O’Neal Beam Team card that captures, in a single image, the devastating power of young Shaq.
Whether this was a made dunk or not is irrelevant, what strikes us most is the helplessness of the entire 76ers front court. Poor Spoon appears to be suffering from shock.
NB: We’re not actually sure what a “Beam Team” is. Possibly referring to girders.
5. Hakeem Olajuwon signed (Upper Deck 1992-93) via @tomhersz
There was no shortage of signed cards, but for us, the cream of the crop was @tomhersz’s Hakeem Olajuwon card from Upper Deck’s ’92-93 collection.
The signature was penned by Hakeem at the ’93 NBA Jam Session in Melbourne. You might know Hakeem as one of the greatest players the game has ever seen or the guy shown below on the left.
The timing is also important here:
- this card was signed before Hakeem had won an MVP or championship, and
- had @tomhersz held out until Jam Session ’94, it would be a Scott Brooks’ John Hancock on that card (the NBA stopped sending stars, then stopped sending anyone).
4. Byron Houston (Upper Deck Collector’s Choice 1994-95) via @nblfacts
Forgive us for thinking that this whole card thing peaked at the Priest Lauderdale Mark Bradtke card.
@nblfacts kindly brought to our attention the Byron Houston Andrew Gaze card aka The Divine Rectangle of Cardboard.
This dunk was Houston’s only field goal for the game. Gaze dominated* both ends in 17 minutes of playing time, and finished with 6 points.
As a long-time fan of highlight reel plays, the great man had this to say about Houston’s effort (One On One, May 1994):
NB: Byron Houston has also been known to be on the wrong end of a poster.
3. Chris Mullin Outer Limits (Skybox 1993-94) via @tomhersz
This Chris Mullin card was part of a set of miniaturised posters designed by the trailblazing Costacos Brothers.
The cinematic feel, the artificial environment, the stripping away of team names and logos - the design of these cards created a sense of grandeur that was rarely replicated in even the scarcest inserts.
The rear of this card simply reads (in your best movie-trailer-voice-over-guy voice):
The nostalgia effect is cranked way up for these cards. Costacos posters were plastered over bedroom walls across America, and, if you grew up with a passing interest in US sports during the 90s, we think you’d really enjoy this brief Costacos Brothers retrospective.
And the best thing about these Skybox x Costacos cards? They were common, popping up in every other pack (much like Upper Deck’s Skylights set from the same era).
Request: If you’ve got the NBL Futera Chris Jent Outer Limits card, we’d love to see it.
2. Hakeem Olajuwon Pro-Visions (Fleer 1993-94) via @wortho33 (also possibly @ryan711)
We expect this particular selection to come under some heavy criticism.
Hakeem on safari? This is basketball not Jumanji. How is this in the Top 10 let alone no. 2?
Well, this card belongs to Fleer’s glorious Pro-Visions set, the finest pieces of paper to ever grace the insides of foil packaging.
To the best of our knowledge, Pro-Visions ran for four years across Fleer’s baseball, football and basketball products.
The early Pro-Visions were designed by artist Terry Smith, who can be seen below with his piece for the ’91-92 MJ card.
More examples of Smith’s work can be found over at Full Metal Starter Jacket.
This Olajuwon card was part of a set of five - the other players featured being Stockton, Mourning, Wilkins, and Shawn Kemp:
Tragically, Pro-Visions was swiftly put to bed following the release of this ridiculous John Starks card.
If you’re feeling Pro-Visions, check out Upper Deck’s Fanimation sets.
NB: @andybeeston shared two examples of the Mourning card.
1. Michael Jordan (Fleer 1986-87) via @Howsito
Could it have been anything else?
The Michael Jordan ’86-87 rookie card is one of the most highly sought after sporting cards, and @Howsito just happened to have one laying around.
Demanding anywhere between heaps of money and stacks of cash, it is becoming increasingly more expensive to get your hands on one.
Here’s a chart from Beckett Basketball Issue 52 (Nov 94) showing outdated data:
We certainly didn’t expect to see one of these cards hit our timeline, however having one appear like a rare Pokemon certainly made determining the no. 1 card in the countdown a whole lot easier.
We’d again like to extend our thanks to everyone who contributed.
There were many notable omissions from this list, feel free to vent in the comments section or hit us up @DT_LockerRoom.
In addition, we’ve seen a number of people mention how they weren’t in a position to share their collections when the hashtag gained momentum.
We’ll consider looking at doing something like this in the future, but in the meantime, follow @Wortho33 and remain vigilant.