March 22, 2007

Card Notes - March 22

Fashion Tips with Bernard King

Bernard either got a two-for-one at Glamour Shots when his daughter went in for her prom photos or he lost a bet. I’m hoping it’s the latter, but my gut is telling me he put a lot of thought into this getup. His stat line does say he’s a 13-year pro, so he must know what he’s doing.

Here’s hoping he got laid.

Also Starring… (Dream Team Edition)
Basketball cards are the second love of my collecting life. And to think, I have the proof that I bought Garbage Pail Kids back in 1986 instead of basketball cards. And I made a special trip to buy the GPKs! And sometimes I go back to that store in my dreams and still see that goddamn box of Fleer 1986-87 sitting on the counter at Mr. Big on Moody Street in Waltham, Massachusetts, and every time, in every dream, I still pick the pack of Garbage Pail Kids. No smarts…not even in my own dreams…

What makes basketball cards so great is that nine times out of ten the card will feature an action shot, which means you’ll not only get a photo of the featured player, but one that includes other players as well. This is almost an entirely foreign concept in baseball. (Which reminds me: Wouldn’t it be great if Topps put out a subset or an ultra-rare chase set called ‘Baseball’s Greatest Brawls’? It could be a ten card set, with a parallel relic set featuring a leaky shard of an actual battery thrown on the field at Yankee Stadium during a game against the Sox, a ripped swatch from a bloodied jersey, or maybe a piece of a chipped tooth? Then the back of the card could be headshots of all the players involved and what they said to reporters after the game, or what they were supposed to have said on the field that started everything (like Varitek telling A-Rod that his pitchers didn’t throw at .260 hitters). I think it would be great, and besides specials and team photo cards, Brawl cards are the only way you’ll ever get more than one or two guys on one baseball card).

That’s why it’s harder to get a common in a pack of basketball cards than you’d expect. Take these cards of Olden Polynice, Never Nervous Pervis Ellison and Larry Nance. You can get any one of these cards for almost a penny a card. The Polynice card also features a dejected looking Magic Johnson (that’s worth at least a penny if you’re a Celtics fan), Ellison is about to be blocked by Chief while Bird watches and Nance looks like he’s about to land on Jordan’s elbow if MJ isn’t careful. That’s three Dream Team alums, plus Robert Parish, all in co-starring roles. And there are literally thousands of cards as great as these, if not better, across the spectrum of all basketball cards ever produced—it’s just the nature of the game.

Take the case of another Dream Teamer, Patrick Ewing. Because Topps is based in New York, it seems like a no-brainer that the company would send their photographers to get photos at Madison Square Garden. Thus, I’ve counted Ewing on at least four other cards that are not his own in the 1992-93 Topps regular set. This card of Bill Cartwright is a good example of superstar co-stars, as Cartwright is decidedly forced to play fourth fiddle in this photo, what with Ewing, Jordan and playoff bunting on the overhangs also in the frame.

I guess the lesson to take away from this is that if you collect a certain basketball player, your collection is not complete if you don’t have all the cards on which that player co-stars. It’s a sad prospect for the completist, but also invigorating.

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