August 21, 2010

The Card that Sums Up Joe Kleine's Career

For those of you who are not familiar with Joe Kleine, he was a durable NBA backup center from 1985 to 2000. For those of you who are familiar with Kleine, you'll remember him by his big play during... uh... well, by his, uh, being involved in three important trades:

- The Trade that Signaled the End of the Championship Celtic Years (Danny Ainge to the Kings)
- The Trade that Brought Robert Horry to the Lakers
- The Trade that Brought Jermaine O'Neal to the Pacers

Notice how Kleine's big achievements were things that he ultimately had no control over, and that all of them came away from the basketball court. This is important, because while he managed to be a relatively durable big man in the bruising, brutal NBA, he wasn't especially good. According to, Kleine put up a total of 38 double doubles in his career, the last one coming in 1992. (Kleine played until 2000.)

So with all this in mind, let's take a look at his 1990-91 Skybox card. For a set that thrived on the outrageous-for-the-time style of computer-generated backgrounds that at once accentuated the grace and electricity of the game action, as well as looked forward and embraced a more digital age, you could say that the Skybox editors were nothing if not realistic. Yes, Kleine's card is a feat of technology. And yes, Kleine does seem excited. But he's still on the bench in his big photo, in his warm-up jacket. And the photo on the back? The one where on other guys' cards shows them relaxing in their natural elements? Kleine not only shares the photo with future Hall of Famer Robert Parish, but Robert's in the game and Joe's on the bench.

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