Issue 120: Odd and Bizarre Basketball Cards

When you were growing up, did you ever collect anything?

For me, basketball and baseball cards were a big hobby. I never put a card through the spokes of my bike, but I did enjoy cracking packs and seeing what cool and exciting pieces of art were inside.

Many cards are pretty standard, like a player dribbling, taking a jumper, or driving for a rim-rocking dunk.

But a few rare ones are extra special — and they’re what this issue is all about.

And in case you need more oddities from the basketball card world, I’ve got your back.

Hold My Beer? Nah, Hold My Rim

If you own any Ja Morant rookie card, chances are it’s gone up in value. The 2019 second overall pick has had a terrific first two years in the league. And the rookie cards of stars tend to be worth owning (or selling).

My favorite Morant rookie card is this one from Panini Prizm. First of all, we rarely get a Zoolander-esque “over the shoulder” look like this.

More impressively, Morant is holding a basketball rim. This suggests he attacked the hoop with such ferocity, he actually tore it down. Amazing.

Ja Morant basketball card

Kiss My Ball

Rip Hamilton is best known for his time in Detroit, rocking a clear face mask after suffering a broken nose. But before all that, he played for the Washington Wizards.

This card features him either currently kissing or about to kiss a basketball — there’s some excellent shadow work going on here to add to the intrigue.

Rip Hamilton kissing basketball card

Metallic Crickets Are Taking Over

When I was a kid, I was much more into collecting cards. I have multiple binders full of them, and I am fairly certain this card is one of them.

I definitely remember the Skybox sets, which featured things like players overlaid in front of shimmering cityscapes or with the ball actively on fire.

They’re all pretty weird and over the top, though my favorite Skybox gimmick was the “cyber metal” cards, which turned out to just be metallic bugs grabbing players as they went to the hoop. It’s like if Space Jam and A Bug’s Life did a wild crossover movie.

Chris Webber Skybox metallic card

Michael Jordan, Master of Style

Sports cards are different from other types of cards. Typically, you have the same “back” of a card no matter what — a standard deck of cards, Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon…all these cards have consistent branding on their backs, and then the artwork and text on one side.

Pick up a card featuring an athlete, though, and you’ll find additional stats, and sometimes, even another photo.

That’s what we’ve got going on with the back of this Michael Jordan card. The front is a fairly typical scene of Jordan holding a ball mid-game while scouting out the defense. The back? It’s a masterpiece.

Jordan has never been the most stylish player, although I’m oddly entranced by this floral shirt and white cowboy hat. Perhaps the best part is the accompanying text saying he always wears his UNC shorts under his uniform, despite him not being in uniform at all.

Michael Jordan basketball card with cowboy hat

Reading is FUN-damental

The Charlotte Hornets made the last go-round of this list too, when their entire team was transported to outer space.

I can’t decide which one I like more, but this Fleer card is equally strange.

It would be odd enough for David Wesley to be in a ball pit alone. Toss in the Hornets mascot and it gets weirder. Have the mascot read what appears to be a picture book to the player? Truly a bizarre spectacle.

And I love it. Happy collecting!

David Wesley basketball card with Hornets mascot

That’s all ’til next time. Thanks for reading!


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