We narrowed down this year's nominees to 12, including seven that did not make it from last year's ballot. Those are noted as "Second Ballot" nominees. The nominees were chosen based on player, popularity and overall hobby impact.
We're relying on you, the collector, to cast your vote to determine this third Hall of Fame class. Choose your FIVE favorites. The cards that don't make it in this year will be up for election next year.
To help with your decision-making, we've provided a bit of background on each nominee.
TAKE THE SURVEY HERE (the ballot will open in a new browser window)
1974-75 Topps #39 Bill Walton RC (Second Ballot)
Big Red Head's 1974-75 Topps card is fitting not only for the time of its release, but for the reflection of Big Bill's personality. The psychedelic off-color of the card and its background go hand-in-hand with Walton's tie-dyed Grateful Dead T-shirts and hippie-fueled career. Though his career was cut short by injuries, Walton's impact on the game is lasting and he continues to impact the game today with his colorful version of play-by-play announcing.
1986-87 Fleer #7 Charles Barkley RC (Second Ballot)
Barkley's RC is probably the second most popular in the set to the Michael Jordan. Unfortunately, another fact of life with these early modern-era cards is that Barkley is also the second most counterfeited card in the set to the Jordan RC. The safest way to buy these is in graded form, but if you're just not into that, make sure you give the card backs a good look, as the logos and the type at the bottom of the card should be crisp and dark. If anything looks fuzzy or misaligned, chances are it isn't an original copy. Still, counterfeiting is a testament to a great card.
1986-87 Fleer #32 Patrick Ewing RC
The third most valuable card in the most famous basketball set. Patrick Ewing, the first overall selection in the 1985 NBA draft, was an 11-time NBA All-Star, won gold medals in the 1984 and 1992 Olympics and was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history in 1996. He will be eligible for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007, but his Rookie Card is eligible for Hall of Fame honor now.
1986-87 Fleer Stickers #8 M. Jordan (Second Ballot)
Though stickers have yet to take off in today's basketball card marketplace, this one is the exception to the rule. Centering was a big problem with the set, and sometimes, due to storage problems, the sticker itself starts to peel or completely fall apart. Gem Mint graded versions of the sticker are very hard to come by, and Mint graded versions will set you back approximately $400.
1988-89 Fleer #20 Scottie Pippen RC (Second Ballot)
Though it took a while for Pippen collectibles to catch on, six titles are too many to ignore. Pippen will forever be known as MJ's running mate, which is a shame, because on his own merits, Scottie became one of the best players in the league and is listed as one of the top 50 players in the history of the NBA. An interesting piece of information about this card is that Pippen's name is misspelled on the card back (Pippin).
1992-93 Stadium Club #247 Shaquille O'Neal RC (Second Ballot)
Until LeBron entered the league in 2003, there had never been as much anticipation surrounding a rookie since that of Shaquille O'Neal. The Diesel's size and skill base had collectors in awe and pushed Rookie Card values through the roof. Shaq's Stadium Club RC features the ever-popular borderless design and is known as his second most popular RC.
1993-94 Finest #212 Chris Webber RC (Second Ballot)
Webber's 1993-94 Finest RC is significant to the hobby because it's the most sought-after RC from the basketball card hobby's first-ever super premium set. Finest packs were selling for more than $30 each shortly after their release-unheard of back in 1993-94-and set the table for future super premium releases as well as the hobby staple Refractor parallels. There's no telling where the hobby would be right now without this release.
1994-95 Finest #240 Grant Hill RC
Before Kobe and LeBron, Grant Hill was going to be the next Jordan. This card ruled the mid-1990s. The second release of Finest was smokin' hot. The protective film on the card fronts begged the vital question, "To peel, or not to peel?" (Most people did not peel.) The card helped spark the high-end product craze.
1996-97 Fleer Lucky 13 #13 Kobe Bryant
The Lucky 13 concept was genius both in its irony and its rarity. Featuring the 13 lottery draft picks from the 1996-97 rookie class, these cards fell 1:30 packs. The Kobe was one of the hottest cards of the mid- to late-1990s; so hot that counterfeits of this card have been documented. People often forget that Kobe barely was a lottery pick, selected at No. 13.
1996-97 Topps Chrome #171 Allen Iverson RC
The first pick in the 1996 draft has become one of the most popular players in NBA history. Iverson's Topps Chrome Rookie Card may not be as valuable as Kobe Bryant's, but it certainly is a milestone card in the history of the basketball hobby.
1997-98 Upper Deck Game Jerseys #GJ13S Michael Jordan AU/23
We struggled with deciding whether or not to nominate the jersey card or the autographed jersey version. There's no denying the impact of the first jersey card set, but the autograph takes this card to a higher level. The first signed Michael Jordan jersey card would be a cornerstone of any basketball card collection.
1998-99 SP Authentic #95 Vince Carter RC (Second Ballot)
SP Authentic marks the first time Rookie Cards were serial numbered. Although for today, 3,500 copies is anything but short printed. At the height of the hobby, this was as close to limited as things got. Carter's RC also marked the first time a base RC hit the $1,000 mark in the Price Guide. Another interesting piece of information is that Vinsanity's SP Authentic RC came along right at the beginning of the graded card concept, and at the time was the most popular card for collectors to have graded. At one point, Gem Mint copies easily sold for $3,000 or more.