By Chris Olds | Basketball Editor
Panini America‘s roster of exclusive spokesman grew by one — a big one — Thursday as Los Angeles Clippers rookie phenom Blake Griffin signed a multi-year autograph and memorabilia deal with the company.
Griffin, the leading candidate for the NBA Rookie of the Year award, joins Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant and No. 1 draft pick John Wall of the Washington Wizards as part of the Panini-exclusive team.
“Panini America will forever hold a special place for me because it’s the company that helped make a dream come true by producing my first NBA trading cards,” Griffin said while in Dallas Thursday for a signing. “The opportunity to join the Panini family and work with a company that is at the forefront of innovation and has reinvigorated the trading card category is special.”
Griffin and the other exclusives will be showcased on memorabilia lines through the new Panini Authentic memorabilia lines — as well as appear on packaging for trading cards and other products. Oh, and they’ll all be appearing on Panini HRX HD video trading cards soon as well as the company offered more details on its upcoming product.
The company is billing Panini HRX as “the industry’s first video trading cards that have been in development for the last 18 months” with the intent to “bring collectors closer to the athletes with unique behind-the-scenes content and individualized footage.”
And one of the athletes that Panini coveted, obviously, was Griffin, who is averaging 22.5 points and 12.2 rebounds a game this season.
“Blake has captured the imagination of millions of people across the world this season – fans and non-fans alike – and we saw him as a must-have player,” said Mark Warsop, CEO of Panini America. “His unique blend of athleticism, power and tenacity make him an unparalleled talent on the court. We’re thrilled to have him join our family.”
Griffin’s basketball cards have been among the hottest in the hobby this season as the former University of Oklahoma star has appeared on two of the last three Beckett Basketball covers and held six of the top eight cards on the magazine’s Hot List the last issue. Griffin’s 2009-10 Playoff National Treasures Rookie Card has sold for as much as $3,500, while rarer parallels of the card have sold for even more.
Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Basketball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.