29 July 2013

Pack of the Day 1: 2012-2013 Panini Basketball

In an effort to get the most out of the packs I buy, I think I will try to save the cards in the packaging until I can scan some of them and post about the pack here. It might be a fun sampler of what I've been up to and to help me get an idea of what sort of direction to take my collection in. First up is a Retail pack of 2012-2013 Panini Basketball. One of the difficult things about getting back into the hobby after a long absence is getting used to cards that were "off" brands when I was younger being the main brands today. Previously, it seemed that brands like Fleer, Topps, Upper Deck, and their various sub-brands were the main players and other manufacturers were always producing the airbrushed, weird sets that no one actually collected. At least that was my impression. Now it seems that other companies have got licenses, the old standbys may not have them anymore, and everything is topsy-turvy. But I thought I'd try a random sampling of packs and one of the packs I chose was this pack of 8 Panini NBA cards. Here is the packaging:

I got 7 base cards, but here are the four guys I recognized. Most of my sports knowledge comes through the lens of fantasy leagues, so the guys I recognize are either going to have been fantasy contributors at one point or in the case of basketball, former Houston Rockets. Shane Battier is a former Rocket who was generally good for peripheral stats while not excelling at anything in particular. He was more valuable on the court than in the fantasy game. Now that he plays for the Heat, he is mostly dead to me, but I can't hold it against him too much. Nick Collison didn't quite live up to expectations in fantasy basketball.

The insert in the pack isn't extremely rare, but it does feature my favorite player of all time, Hakeem Olajuwon, so I was pretty excited to pull it. Looking at the checklist for the set, he only has like two cards in the whole product and the other one is an autograph, so it's like this pack was beamed to me from whichever minor deity controls trading card seeding. The manufacturers pretend that they are in control of it by posting odds for things, but we all know from ripping packs that some supernatural force has to be in charge.

The base cards are all right. I can't see myself trying to build the set, and the Hakeem card is the only one I'd really want to chase anyway as I think the autograph is numbered fairly low, like /25 or something, so I can happily put 2012-2013 Panini Basketball behind me. The main problem I have with this pack is that the packaging doesn't mention odds. I mean, part of the fun of buying random packs is looking up whatever insert you pull to see how rare it is, so that was irksome to me.

In looking more closely at the picture on the Olajuwon card, you can see an NBA Finals banner in the background, and Charles Oakley of the New York Knicks guarding him, so the photo is from the Rockets championship run in 1994, the real start to a great stretch for my favorite sports teams that ran through the Denver Broncos' Super Bowl victory in 1998.

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