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Category Archives: Basketball

Sunday Conversation: Panini’s Jason Howarth

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

Jason Howarth is the Vice President of Marketing for Panini America. We caught up with him for a brief Q&A about the industry, its challenges, his New England Patriots and plenty more.

Check it out in our Sunday Conversation. 

What’s the most-interesting trend you have seen in the industry lately — and what makes that stand out?
I’d say this was a trend — but it has evolved into the creation of a whole new segment in the hobby and it’s here to stay — case-breaking. I know some people feel that case-breaking is bad for the hobby, but you have to give the guys that are doing it right their due. They open volumes of product and showcase cards in programs that previously might have been overlooked. Case-breaking also brings in lapsed collectors back into the hobby and reignites their passion to collect.

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BGS Diary: Vintage, booklets, Dr. Beckett & more

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor | Commentary

For the last few months, I’ve submitted five cards a month to Beckett Grading Services to finally get some of the cards I like into slabs. Selecting which cards to submit has been easier said than done — and the results can be interesting, too.

Here is the batch of five cards I got back from BGS for November — so here’s my latest BGS Diary entry. See which five cards I decided to submit … after the jump.

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Box Busters: 2014-15 Panini Prestige

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Join Beckett Basketball‘s Chris Olds and Derek Ficken as they rip into a few boxes of 2014-15 Panini Prestige in this latest edition of Box Busters.

What will they find inside? Watch and find out …

First Look: 2014-15 Panini Paramount Basketball

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By Stephen Laroche | Beckett Basketball Editor

Once in a while, a trading card company will dust off an old brand and infuse it with new energy to help it generate interest from both new and experienced collectors. In the case of 2014-15 Panini Paramount Basketball from Panini America, we are being taken back a few years with name alone as it has been completely overhauled for modern tastes.

Having never been attempted for the sport, this Paramount release will offer up a nod to something that was previously part of the Pinnacle brand with as cards printed on Dufex stock along with many more exciting autograph and memorabilia concepts. Originally, Paramount fell under the banner of Pacific Trading Cards, but Panini owns the brand name and has chosen to resurrect it this season.

What else can collectors expect to find in packs? Find out after the jump. Read More »

Panini Reveals Rookie X-Change Cards

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By Stephen Laroche | Beckett Basketball Editor

There is some good news for collectors that have been anxiously waiting to receive some special redemption cards from Panini America as the company has unveiled images of their 2014 NBA Draft Rookie X-Change cards that were inside packs of 2013-14 Panini Intrigue Basketball and 2013-14 Panini Signatures Basketball.

Ready to be mailed out to those that have redeemed them, these cards are sure to be well-received by the hobby and highlight top members of the 2014-15 rookie class.

“Both sets stay true to some of the coolest aspects of the products from which they originated – 2013-14 Signatures Basketball and 2013-14 Intrigue Basketball, respectively,” noted Tracy Hackler, Panini America’s Hobby Marketing Manager. “As a result, the cards themselves provide for some of the most unique early cards of this season’s top NBA rookies.”

Who made the cut for these sets? Take a look at the gallery and find out more information after the jump. Read More »

Panini’s Black Friday Starting To Shape Up

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By Stephen Laroche | Beckett Basketball Editor

We are barely a week away from the biggest shopping weekend of the year and collectors are gearing up for Panini America‘s annual holiday season tradition – their ever-popular Black Friday promotion.

Over the past couple of weeks, the company has been leaking out details about their 2014 Panini America Black Friday promotional set and packs are expected to loaded with cards that are sure to be heavily chased and may even become the cornerstones of some collections.

Starting on Friday, November 28, collectors will converge on hundreds of their favorite card stores in order to participate in the program and bust some packs or they can visit iCollectPanini.com if they do not have a hobby shop that is participating in the program. Naturally, there is an opportunity to pull autographs and memorabilia along with tough parallels from the worlds of baseball, basketball and football.

What does Panini America have planned for hobbyists on Black Friday? Find out after the jump. Read More »

First Look: 2014-15 Upper Deck NCAA March Madness

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By Stephen Laroche | Beckett Basketball Editor

Even though the college basketball season is in full swing, Upper Deck is looking ahead to the end of the schedule as they are ready to unleash 2014-15 NCAA March Madness Collection on February 4.

The first product of its kind to be made by the company, it will not only look back on the greatest moments in tournament history, but plans to add a compelling Bracketology interactive game feature. Collectors that receive the cards will scratch off to reveal the depicted team’s bracket seed and location. If it matches the seed the team actually received, then your card is live and ready to compete for prizes.

What else will be found in this product? Find out after the jump. Read More »

Box Busters: 2014-15 Totally Certified basketball

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Join Beckett Basketball‘s Derek Ficken and Chris Olds as they rip into boxes of 2014-15 Totally Certified in this latest edition of Box Busters.

What will they find inside? Watch and find out …

Sources: Panini close to near-exclusive in college card market

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor | Analysis

The changes coming to the college trading card landscape in 2015 are going to be even more dramatic than anticipated, according to industry sources.

Panini America‘s wave of new deals signed with top schools in the last few weeks has reportedly gotten even larger. Industry sources tell Beckett Media that nearly all of the country’s 60-plus major colleges and universities — and nearly 300 schools in total — have signed multi-year deals with Panini, positioning the Dallas-based manufacturer to operate under a near-exclusive in the college-card market for the rest of the decade. That expansion would effectively end any broad collegiate engagement for Upper Deck, which has held an exclusive Collegiate Licensing Company license for the past five years.

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USA Today examines Panini America’s college push

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Panini America‘s push into the college ranks includes more than 220 schools that will allow the company to use their trademarks on rookie and prospect cards as well as produce college-specific card sets.

Panini VP of Marketing Jason Howarth offered insight on how the deal works to USA Today Fields of Green’s Nick Zobel, who took a look at the deal.

“The way the process works is that the rights we have with the school are tied to utilizing the school logos and marks,” Howarth said in the piece. “That means school insignia and mascots. The partnerships do not give us rights to players.”

That means all those college stars from those schools in football and basketball will have their first Rookie Cards arrive (once their college careers are over) with views as seen on the field or court. That means the baseball players from those schools will appear in hobby staples such as Elite Extra Edition just as they were seen on the diamond.

What that doesn’t mean is that Panini can make any card it wants of any player in the history of the school — at least not without that person’s permission and, of course, not before they are done playing.

John Wall Inks Exclusive Deal With Panini

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By Stephen Laroche | Beckett Basketball Editor

One of the hottest names in the NBA has found a new home as Panini America has just announced that Washington Wizards guard John Wall has signed an exclusive multi-year deal with the company that covers trading cards, autographs and memorabilia.

This agreement is sure to pay off nicely for collectors in the near future as the former first overall pick from the 2010 NBA Draft continues to make himself one of the hottest stars in the game. For the first two seasons of his career, Wall was under an exclusive deal with Panini and the company is happy to see him return.

“John Wall is one of the most exciting young players in the NBA and we’ve been fortunate to work with him in the past; having a player of John’s stature return to our team in such a meaningful way not only adds more excitement and potential to our product offerings, it also reinforces our long-term commitment to the NBA category,” remarked Panini America CEO Mark Warsop in a statement issued late this afternoon.

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First Look: 2014-15 SPx

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By Stephen Laroche | Beckett Basketball Editor

SPx is back for basketball collectors and it might be better than ever – especially for those that have been enjoying Upper Deck’s roundball releases as of late.

Arriving on store shelves in January, this brand has not been a part of the company’s lineup since 2008-09 and there have been some improvements that are sure to appeal to many hobbyists. Propelled by the presence of one strong hit in every five-card pack, it looks at the latest players to make the jump to the pro level along with a rarely-matched selection of collegiate legends.

What will collectors find in packs of 2014-15 Spx? Find out after the jump. Read More »

First Look: 2014-15 Panini Court Kings

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By Stephen Laroche | Beckett Basketball Editor

Last season, Panini America brought back their Court Kings brand after a four-year hiatus and the overhauled product managed to deliver a visually striking look at the game’s biggest stars and rookies. Due to its success, it will be back for a second straight season and there have been some minor tweaks that may help it achieve that status of being a hobby staple.

With a fantastic freshman class already exhibiting its talents on the hardcourt, Court Kings will once again deliver strong value and each 10-card box will contain one rookie card to go along with one autograph, one memorabilia card, an oversized portrait card and two inserts. Expected to hit store shelves on December 19, it has a suggested retail price of $72 that makes it an affordable option during the holiday season.

What else can collectors expect to find in packs of 2014-15 Panini Court Kings? Find out after the jump. Read More »

BGS Diary Predictor: What will he submit?

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We recently introduced the BGS Diary (click to read) and it seems like a few of you liked hearing about what — and why — Beckett Baseball Editor Chris Olds submitted what he did for grading.

That was last month’s BGS submission. For this month, we’re getting a bit interactive. He’s prepared his five cards for grading and we want to see if you can predict which of his cards will end up slabbed. Of the 10 cards listed below, five are headed to BGS today for his next BGS Diary.

Can you predict which ones they will be?

November BGS Diary Predictor: What will Olds submit?

  • 1980 Topps #482 Rickey Henderson RC (54%, 86 Votes)
  • 2011 Topps Stickers #21 Nick Swisher (40%, 63 Votes)
  • 1981 Topps #216 Joe Montana RC (38%, 60 Votes)
  • 1957 Topps #35 Frank Robinson RC (37%, 59 Votes)
  • 2010 Bowman Chrome 18U USA Baseball Refractors #18BC8 Bryce Harper (36%, 57 Votes)
  • 1986 Donruss #39 Jose Canseco RC (35%, 56 Votes)
  • 2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites Autographs #JBE Dr. Jim Beckett (31%, 50 Votes)
  • 2013 Topps WWE Diva Centerfolds #1 AJ Lee (25%, 39 Votes)
  • 2001 Topps Heritage #316 Cal Ripken SP (16%, 26 Votes)
  • 1971-72 Topps #4 John Johnson RC (9%, 15 Votes)

Total Voters: 159

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Box Busters: 2013-14 Exquisite Collection

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Join Beckett Basketball‘s Derek Ficken and Chris Olds as they rip into boxes of 2013-14 Exquisite Collection basketball cards from Upper Deck in this latest edition of Box Busters.

What will they find inside? Watch and find out …

Panini America adds Texas Longhorns to licenses

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

Panini America hooked ‘em.

The University of Texas Longhorns are the latest major college to sign on with Panini America as its push to become an industry leader in the college ranks continues. The school’s logo will now be used in the company’s baseball, football and basketball products on an exclusive basis with Longhorns-focused multi-sport products also on the tarmac beginning in the spring.

“We are very happy to have The University of Texas join Panini as an exclusive partner. The Longhorns have such a great heritage and continue to produce top student-athletes that go on to very successful professional careers,” said Mark Warsop, Panini America CEO in a prepared release. “We look forward to getting started and producing great products for Longhorns fans.”

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Beckett 20 Questions … on autographs

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

Our next Beckett Sports Card Monthly is one of our favorites — and apparently one of yours, too — The Autograph Issue.

It’s the one time a year where we aim to explore the one thing that seemingly every collector can appreciate and a subject that can generate a lot of opinions at times, too.

How? Just bring up these two words … sticker autographs.

Here is our latest batch of 20 Questions — tell us what you think with the questions below and raise a few of your own at the end if you’d like. The results here will appear in the next magazine as they do in every month.

1. Did you like the way Topps distributed its 2013 Kris Bryant autos this year?

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2. Pick one: Sticker auto or no auto.

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See the rest of our questions … after the jump.

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Sky’s the limit for BGS 9.5 Jordan Star XRC

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By Stephen Laroche | Beckett Basketball Editor

It has been 30 years since Michael Jordan made his NBA debut and a professionally graded gem mint trading card issued by Star Company during his rookie season is now up for sale courtesy of Beckett Auctions.

Opening at $50,000, the bidding war for this piece of cardboard history is expected to be intense as it is the first copy of the 1984-85 Star Company #101 card to ever receive a 9.5 grade from Beckett Grading Services. Read More »

Top 12: Military-themed sports sets to own

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

If you’re gung-ho to start a military segment of your sports card collection, it won’t be tough as there are many ways you can go about it and many, many options out there for you to explore. Besides collecting players who have military ties — or perhaps even NASCAR drivers who have been sponsored by branches of the Armed Forces — there are also many complete brands or insert sets from the sports card world that have a service focus.

Here are a dozen places for you to start.

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ONE FOR THE TROOPS
1991 Topps Desert Shield >> 792 cards $7,043
Back in 1991, Topps created a standalone foil-stamped product that paralleled its baseball set. The Desert Shield cards were all 792 standard cards with an added foil stamp — but they might as well have been gold for collectors. Why? They were produced to be given away to those in uniform, and many of those people might not have cared about cards. That, in part, explains the big price tag here. These cards also are heavily counterfeited with fake foil stamping, so buy graded copies of key cards if you’re chasing them. The biggest card here? Chipper Jones’ debut — a $300 card raw, much more if it’s graded. Interestingly, this isn’t the only military-only issue from Topps at that time as it made a 30-card Commanders of the Hill set that was only sold along with Coca-Cola on bases back in 1993.

See the rest … after the jump.

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Panini’s Immaculate racks up big-dollar sales

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor | Commentary

A funny thing happened when doing some research for the upcoming Autograph Issue of Beckett Sports Card Monthly.

I kept on noticing high-dollar Panini Immaculate auctions.

Shaquille O’Neal autographed Logoman went for $8,999. The Tony Parker here? An eBay Best Offer of somewhere between $5,999 and its posted $8,999 was accepted. A Derrick Rose Sneak Peek patch auto card showcasing a jumbo swatch with an autograph off of a game-used shoe? A mere $3,605. A Chris Andersen — Chris Andersen! — Logoman auto redemption went for $2,999.95.

There are many, many more examples of this, though, granted, this is a high-dollar brand from Panini America. It’s a brand that’s been around just two seasons in basketball and arrived this year in baseball, packing plenty of  autographs and memorabilia cards into its boxes.

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Auction Watch: Auburn gem, Jeter’s glove & BGS

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A Collegiate Shocker | Chris Davis’ 2013 Iron Bowl helmet
One of the most-outrageous finishes in college football the last few years can be found on the field of the 2013 Iron Bowl — aka the Alabama-Auburn rivalry. This helmet was worn by former Auburn Tiger Chris Davis, who is now a San Diego Charger, during his endzone-to-endzone shocker to win the game. College football fans can be rabid — especially in the SEC — and this helmet is a high-priced example when it hit the auction block via Goldin Auctions. It collected 21 bids and sold for $47,190.

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Signature shoes highlight signature cards

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor | Commentary

They’re some of the sweeter-looking autographed cards to be found in the history of cardboard and they’ve just arrived from Upper Deck.

They’re Signature Kicks and they can be found in boxes of 2013-14 Exquisite Collection basketball cards — they all feature autographs from past greats and present stars and note which signature model the shoe swatches came from.

What each of these cards isn’t, though, is game-used. They are “a tribute to classic collectible sneakers” according to a company statement. They are pieces of famed signature models for the featured players — a dynamic twist on the manufactured relics we’ve seen in the hobby for years and something the company hopes appeals to shoe collectors and brings them into cardboard.

“We wanted to let the shoes be the focus of the card, not the teams or even the players,” the company said in a statement. “Keeping in line with the individual style sneaker fans appreciate, we looked for imagery that lent itself to those collectors. We depict the athletes in their youth and older, or just showing off their individual style.”

Shoe cards are nothing new — but using the unique pieces that they carry within prevented deluxe shoe memorabilia cards from being done in the past. Most cards from the past have simple leather swatches and few carry any brand or model identity. These are different.

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Panini adds 200-plus schools to portfolio

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

Panini America has added even more to its college portfolio.

How much more? More than 220 universities have signed on to have their trademarks used on an exclusive basis on upcoming Panini trading cards, the company announced.

The biggest names on the list? Mississippi State, Baylor, NC State and Kansas State, though schools represented by LRG, or Licensing Resource Group (click to see list), make up the bulk of the additions. Among those schools are Memphis, Marquette, St. John’s and Temple. The news comes on the heels of the company announcing its initial deals on Oct. 23.

“This has been an exciting few weeks for Panini America and the future of licensed college trading cards and we’re proud to be at the forefront of a new era,” said Mark Warsop, Panini America CEO, on its blog. “We now have more than 225 universities signed to exclusive, multiyear trading card agreements – our unmatched retail distribution, commitment to marketing and ability to feature professional players in collegiate trading card products through our group player rights will lead to new growth in the collegiate collectibles category and all of our partners recognize that.”

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BGS 9.5 1984-85 Star Jordan Highlights Next Beckett Auction

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With the 2014-15 NBA season in full swing, basketball fans are talking about their favorite stars and rookies and Beckett Auctions is ready to celebrate as well by delivering cards and collectibles featuring some of the best hoops stars from the past and present. In fact, we are offering up one of the most fantastic hobby finds ever with the only 1984-85 Star Co. Michael Jordan XRC that has been graded 9.5 by Beckett Grading Services – and no other copy has been graded higher!

The introductory bid for this cardboard treasure? A steep $50,000, but it’s a small price to pay for what could be the greatest single copy of this card to ever come to auction.

“We are very excited to add this landmark card to our November Hardwood Heroes auction,” said Rob Springs of Beckett Auctions.”The Star #101 has always had a little extra hobby mystique surrounding it and the fact this particular copy has been graded a BGS 9.5 is phenomenal. This is the only copy that has been graded a 9.5, and there is none higher. This would truly be the centerpiece of someone’s Jordan collection.”

What else is up for bid starting on November 2? Find out after the jump. Read More »

Box Busters: 2014-15 NBA Hoops

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Join Beckett Basketball editor Stephen Laroche as he tears into a box of the all-new 2014-15 NBA Hoops release from Panini.