Topps Archives From The Hardwood

The game of Basketball has always been a big part of my life.  I have blathered on about my love for the hardwood before in my post, Hoop Dreams.  To get a much more detailed background of my basketball past, I you can check that one out.  My first basketball goal was a smaller hoop of the 5 foot variety that sat at the top of a small metal pole with a four pronged base.  It wasn’t sturdy at all and I had to put fire logs or cinder blocks on it to keep it from toppling over.  I eventually got smart and tied it to one of the lattice columns of the backyard shed my parents used for storage.  Once I had it fastened to the front of that shed, it could withstand all of my amazing dunks and trick shots and never fall over.  And as an added bonus, I was able to get rid of the fire logs that constantly posed a threat to my ankles that were protected only by the thin cloth found in Converse All-Stars.When the weather wasn’t cooperating, I took my game inside to the Nerf hoop that hung on my closet door.  Back then, the balls were literally circular foam sponges that were so light that you had to have laser focus to make a shot from further than 3 feet.  And dunks were tough to finish without smashing into the closet door and prompting a visit from your angry mom.  We also had a little lake place that had a huge screened in porch that had a Nerf hoop screwed into the wood siding that totally mixed indoor and outdoor elements for the perfect game.  My cousin and I would play for hours during the summer while others were swimming or skiing.  We were focused totally on hoops!Eventually, I moved to a full size backyard basketball goal that had the neighborhood kids flocking to my house for mini tournaments and 2 on 2 battles.  From 14-20, I was playing basketball 4-5 times a week either at my house, my cousin’s house, the Westwood Gym or the Mitchell-Baker Gym.  I played RA Basketball with the church, I played some basketball at the school and I played in some city leagues after graduation.  I love all sports but as for playing them, basketball carried the torch for me through my teen years.  I played the others but basketball was a cut above.  I still play it today in a recreational city league that doesn’t require you to run a 4.5/40 or have a 28” vertical leap.  It’s competitive and a mix of young and old but none of us are looking to sign a 10 day deal in the D-League with our play.Being so involved in basketball throughout my youth, it was only natural that I would collect basketball cards.  So in 1989, when I began with baseball cards, I also started picking up ’89 Hoops to add to my collection.  Unfortunately, I started collecting too late to have a bunch of ’86 Fleer lying around my collection but that set remains a part of my Sports Card Bucket List.  The big card I was after in 1989 was the David Robinson RC and other stars like Jordan, Bird, Magic, Dominique and Olajuwan.  I don’t care what players come along in today’s NBA, you will never convince me that the league will ever be better than my teen years from 1987-1997.  There were so many legends in the league at that time.  The game was exciting to watch in November and was super charged when the playoffs arrived.  You have to trust me when I say it was the best of times in the NBA.I think basketball cards in general are the forgotten hobby by sports card enthusiasts and deserve more celebration.  Mid to late 80’s basketball cards hold great value and the sets were LOADED with superstars.  And because everybody and their brother weren’t collecting them, they aren’t as abundant in collections as other sports.  I am not saying they weren’t mass produced but I am saying that there are way more ’89 Topps baseball cards in collector boxes than ’89 Hoops.  I collected heavily from 1989-1995 and probably had as many basketball cards as any other sport.  Unfortunately, my basketball cards didn’t survive my dead period like the other sports did.  I have some star cards left and have since collected newer sets but I lost track of most of the older cards in various moves from my parents’ house to bachelor pads to my current family home.My favorite basketball set is the 1993 Topps Archives Set.  The set is much like Archives Baseball of today as it used some of the current stars (at the time) of the NBA on retro Topps designs.  This was the only set where you could find basketball players on famous designs from Topps years 1981-1991.  Yes, you can find Tim Hardaway on a 1989 Topps design and you can find Brad Daugherty on a 1985.  And as an added bonus, the cards were produced in the same “High Definition” of Stadium Club so they are considered a premium set for 1993.  And before you assume the worst, these don’t stick together like 1991 Stadium Club Baseball does.  These are still in very good condition from the pack and are wonderful for the nostalgic collector.The set is numbered to 150 with the cards from 1981 designs being in the front to 1991 closing it out.  If you have a favorite Topps Baseball design from that time frame, it’s in here.  The box is made up of 24 packs with 14 “Super Premium” cards in each.  The subset for this product was a Special 1981-1991 #1 Draft Picks Set featuring; you guessed it, the #1 picks from those years.  Boxes also featured a Master Photo card that entitled “winners” to 3 master photo cards with $1.00 postage and handling.  These Master Photos were printed on 5X7 photo white stock.  My particular winning group included James Worthy, Ralph Sampson and Patrick Ewing.  Unfortunately, the expiration date on this winning insert was 1/31/94.I ripped through this box and it was almost as fun as watching Spud Webb win the dunk contest.  I was able to build the full Draft Pick subset and also the full base set with the exception of Card #67, Reggie Miller.  Miller turned out to be elusive!  I pulled two Jordan’s and countless Hall of Famers and Superstars.  As you’ll see, the design year matches the players’ draft year.  Let’s take a look at how the box stacked up.1981 Design– Cards 12-22 – Featured players like Danny Ainge, Tom Chambers and the pictured Isiah Thomas.  1981 was not one of my favorite Topps designs but seeing some basketball players on them gave them some pop.1982 – Cards 23-31 – These are very good looking.  The group includes two major names; Dominique Wilkins and James Worthy.1983 – Cards 32-42 – These have the signature small circular photo in the bottom corner.  Clyde “The Glyde” Drexler was the headliner here.1984 – Cards 43-59 – This was the best group of players for a set design and featured the ’84 Draft Class.  This group included Charles Barkley, Akeem (Not Hakeem) Olajuwan, John Stockton and “His Airness”!1985 – Cards 60-76 – 1985 Topps remains a popular set in baseball today.  This group of players featured Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone (maybe my favorite action shot), Chris Mullin and Spud Webb.1986 – Cards 77-88 – This design has historically been either loved or hated over the years.  The players featured in this group were not the best in the set either with Brad Daugherty, Dennis Rodman and Mark Price being the main stars.1987 – Just as you’d imagine, cards 89-100 are in the classic wood grain design of 1987 Topps Baseball.  There were some well liked players in this group but no bona fide superstars outside of Scottie Pippen.  Included were names like Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues, Reggie Lewis and Kevin Johnson.1988 – Cards 101-114 – The design used in 1988 was a little uninspiring for my taste but it’s nice as a retro design.  The players in this group included Danny Manning, Rex Chapman, Dan Majerle, Mitch Richmond and Rony Seikaly; all household names in 1993.1989 – Cards 115-130 – This is the wonderfully classy design we all know and love from 1989 Baseball.  The group of players from the ’89 Draft is also top notch with the inclusions of Vlade Divac, Sean Elliott, Tim Hardaway and David Robinson.1990 – The “Saved by the Bell” set of 1990 Baseball was covered with cards 131-139.  The group included a pair of stars from Seattle, Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, as well as Dee Brown and Dennis Scott.1991 – The final design featured in the set was 1991 and included cards 140-148.  Card #149-150 were checklists.  This group included Larry Johnson, Billy Owens, Steve Smith, Dikembe Mutombo and Rick Fox.

As far as basketball sets go, this is one of the best for me.  Sure, sets from 1986 and 1987 are more valuable but they are also out of my price range.  This is a way to own superstar players in retro Topps designs for about $15-$20.  The cards look great, they are still in good condition in the packs, the set is small enough to build easily and they are very affordable.  If you like 80’s-90’s basketball, there is absolutely no reason not to buy a box and build this set.  This is a very firm 5 on the Dub-O-Meter and was a blast to rip.  Just check them out, you won’t regret it.


Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

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