27 November 2014

At the Trade Deadline 26: A Big Dose of Basketball Nostalgia from The Prowling Cat

A while back The Prowling Cat blog held a week-long Clearing the Closet giveaway of various trading card sets that had been accumulated over time. There were quite a few of them that interested me, but in an effort to let other people have some fun I claimed just two sets. One was a fantasy and sci-fi art set featuring illustrations by Keith Parkinson, and one was this '92-'93 Upper Deck McDonald's NBA set. It features 50 cards, and I had a good time flipping through the cards and seeing some of the players I collected back in the day as well as remembering some of the players I'd forgotten about over the last fifteen or so years. Apparently these cards were distributed in packs with Value Meals, and there were regional sets too. I don't know anything about all that, as these were put out slightly before I got into basketball cards.

One of the highlights of claiming this set was getting a Hakeem Olajuwon card I didn't already have. On the front is a pretty nice Upper Deck design which kind of splits the difference between the '91-'92 and '92-'93 Upper Deck flagship sets. It's got the wood floor aspects and team logo in a circle aspects of the earlier set and the team color accents of the later set. The back of the card features a few lines of stats as well as career totals, some personal information, and an action photo. The hologram is in the shape of the McDonald's Golden Arches logo, but that is the only mention of McDonald's' involvement in the promotion.

Each team gets one or two players in the checklist, depending I guess on how many stars a team had at the time, although in some cases it looks like Upper Deck just had to grab someone from the roster, whether they were popular or not. I guess the big card in this scan would be the Michael Jordan, but I never really was a Jordan or a Bulls fan. Everyone liked the Bulls because they were dominant, but that was too mainstream for me. I did like Horace Grant, though, mostly because of his goggles and the fact that he responded to my TTM autograph request. Larry Johnson and the Charlotte Hornets were a pretty big deal during this time frame.

I've always liked Mutombo, and those Denver Nuggets jerseys are so awful they're good, kind of like the rainbow-era Astros uniforms. He spent the last few years of his career with the Houston Rockets, and is second on the NBA's all-time blocks list to my favorite player, Hakeem Olajuwon.

Because the playing field is so small and it's a relatively close-quarters kind of game, there is a high chance that NBA cards will feature cameos by other players, like Patrick Ewing lurking in the back of Mutombo's card. One thing I like about collecting Olajuwon's card is that he played in an era where big men were extremely popular, so his cards often feature another famous player in the vicinity, like David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, or Patrick Ewing.

I guess I should mention Reggie Miller. I never liked that guy. Some players just rub you the wrong way, and for me Reggie was that kind of player. If I had to choose a favorite Pacer it would probably be Rik Smits.

This scan is about as devoid of star power as you can get in a set that is supposed to feature the best players on each team. I've got nothing to say about any of these guys.

That Clyde Drexler card tried to glide right out of the picture, but luckily there was a defender in the way who kept him in check long enough for the scan to go through. Drexler would later play for the Rockets and won a Championship with them in 1995. He also had that little moustache and looked to me more like someone's uncle than a top-level athlete.

Scott Skiles always looked like a jerk on basketball cards. Maybe he's a great guy, but on cardboard I always imagined that he was kind of a villain. I didn't have to imagine when it came to Patrick Ewing, though. I knew he was a villain, and the heroic Rockets defeated him in 1994.

Spud Webb was evidence that even if you weren't incredibly tall you could still make it in the league. Webb and Muggsy Bogues both kind of filled the role that Nate Robinson does today, being the little guy who can hang. Spud Webb won the Slam Dunk contest in 1986 and assisted Nate Robinson when he won the 2006 contest.

This group of cards is big on star power, even if 1/3 of the scan is taken up by the hated Utah Jazz. There are a couple of nice dunk shots for David Robinson and Shawn Kemp before he got fat. I was actually wearing a pair of Shawn Kemp shoes today. When I was a teenager I had a pair of the blue Kamikaze II's similar to the ones he wore to the All-Star game. A while back Reebok reissued a pair in a similar color and I grabbed them up.

I guess Stockton wasn't too bad, but I never liked Karl Malone. I don't know for sure who the Rockets' main rival is these days, as the Jazz haven't been good enough lately to be anyone's nemesis. Maybe Portland or one of the other Texas teams? There seems to be a little bad blood with the way Chandler Parsons was handled by Houston and his subsequent move to sign with the Mavericks. I will keep on hating the Jazz, though, because it is tradition for me.

The last eight cards in the set make up the Future Force subset, and feature eight of the first nine draft picks from the 1992 draft. I wasn't sure why, but Wikipedia tells me that the #4 draft pick, Jim Jackson, held out in a contract dispute for most of his rookie season, so that is probably why he didn't get a card in the set.

The checklist starts out strong, with Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning leading the way. Laettner was extremely popular when he came into the NBA, having won college National Championships with Duke and making the Dream Team as the only college player on the roster. He never really lived up to the hype, though. I remember La Phonso Ellis by name, but I can't remember much about his body of work.

Most of these other guys had pretty good careers, although none of them became superstars. Todd Day at least gets a nice photo on his card as he posterizes some poor defender.

This was a fun set to go through, and I am glad that The Prowling Cat was generous enough to send it out to me. I am usually so focused on the couple of NBA guys that I collect heavily that I forget about all the other players who I followed over the years. Thanks you for the cards!

No comments:

Post a Comment