I had some fairly bad luck with my first pack of Panini Crusade, pulling an autograph of a guy who played just a few minutes in the NBA while bouncing around in the D-League. So I did what I always do when I have a bad experience with a pack of cards, I went and got another dose of cardboard punishment.
First up are my three base cards. As a Houston Rockets fan I feel like I should be more excited about Dwight Howard coming to the team, but his bad back and questionable attitude give me pause. Hopefully having the whole city of Houston kissing his butt for signing there will motivate him to play hard rather than sandbagging it because he has to share the limelight like he did in LA for the Lakers. He has a tendency to disappear in important games, too, so we'll probably continue to lose key games.
Next up we have Kris Humphries, who is most famous for spending 72 days as Mr. Kim Kardashian. He continues to stick in the NBA, despite being widely panned by fans.
Jordan Crawford is not notable for much. He has racked up a couple of triple-doubles in his career, but mostly comes off the bench as part of the second team. He is famous for dunking on Lebron James at Lebron's basketball camp. Lebron and Nike tried to cover up the video footage of the dunk, but it was released eventually on YouTube anyway. The dunk itself happens at about the 30-second mark in the video.
And that brings us to the hit of the pack:
You may be asking yourself, "Who is Nando de Colo?" He is a guy who has had a little success playing ball in Europe and signed last year to play for the Spurs, where he bounced back and forth between the big club and the D-League. While with the Spurs, he averaged about 4 points per game. So, the big hit is again of a guy who barely qualifies as an actual NBA player.
I have read that in light of the somewhat lackluster autograph checklist, the main draw of the product can be found in the Crusade insert set, with its many levels of multi-colored parallels. The low-numbered cards of big name players tend to be quite popular. In this pack I got a Gold LaMarcus Aldridge, who is what I would call a semistar for the Portland Trail Blazers. Many of my impressions of players come from their value in fantasy sports, and he is a pretty solid 21 point / 9 rebound guy with a better free-throw percentage than many other Power Forward / Center guys. Last year he was statistically the 13th-best player in fantasy basketball. He would probably be a star if he played on a better team.
The Gold Crusade cards are numbered out of 10, so this definitely qualifies as a bigger hit than the autograph. Without this card the pack would have been a big dud. With this card, the pack grades out as a decent one. The Crusade inserts are nice and glossy, and although Aldridge isn't a huge name, he is at least an All-Star and the card is rare enough to be considered a hit. If he were to get traded to a contender, that would be even better. I think I heard rumors a time or two that Houston might go after him, but they went all-in on Dwight Howard. There isn't a lot of sales data out there, but last month #2 /10 sold on eBay for $22.00 + $3.00 shipping.