Will there be a next year for NBA cards?


By Chris Olds | Beckett Basketball Editor | Commentary

The silence is deafening … and it says plenty so far.

While the NFL’s lockout robbed us of some meaningless training camp reports while the football card printing presses kept on a rolling with all the veterans and the newest rookies, the NBA is quite a different story.

How different? There have been zero officially licensed 2011-12 NBA products offered for pre-sale by Panini America, the league’s exclusive trading card licensee.

That shouldn’t be surprising considering that NBA.com has stripped players of their ability to appear on their own profile pages but it might be to some. It’s looking like the labor woes also could mean that collectors – fans – could be stripped of those same players’ appearances on NBA-approved basketball cards, too.

It’s all a bit circumstantial right now, obviously, but consider that a nearly 12 months ago, Prestige arrived on Sept. 29, 2010. It’s almost September. One should also consider that some of us were eagerly awaiting the return of NBA Hoops, a long-running staple of the basketball card market’s revival in 1989 and into the 1990s that hasn’t been around recently. That nostalgia kick housed in mylar had been teased for a late-September release.

One major online dealer contacted Friday noted that he hadn’t seen any pre-orders for 2011-12 — neither Prestige nor Hoops — and also noted that it’s “very late” for the ordering window to begin.

Ok, so it’s not just me wondering …

It should be obvious to us what’s going on, though — it’s got to all be on hold until there’s a new deal. When that will be? Who knows … (Let’s just hope the licensee doesn’t have to keep paying the electric bill if center court isn’t lit up.)

I contacted the NBA’s Vice President of Licensing early this week asking whether there had been a freeze on products for the upcoming season. No response. That answer was the same back from those contacted at Panini America. Like I said, the silence is deafening.

Meanwhile, the only new NBA product announcement from Panini since the lockout began on July 1 was a new high-end line – Black Box – interestingly fast-tracked and even more-interestingly branded as a 2010-11 release coming out after National Treasures, a somewhat traditional year-ending product for the company. Black Box was unveiled on July 25 with an initially announced arrival date of Aug. 31.

Seems like unusual timing to me, but, then again, timing is everything.

The poor timing of the NBA’s labor woes – and this apparent cardboard development – has come at the perfect time for sports collectors to pay more attention elsewhere.

Sadly, for fans of the hardwood, that elsewhere will end up being football, baseball and hockey cards — which are already stronger sellers than basketball.

A season without basketball is one thing — a season without basketball cards?

That could be ugly.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Basketball magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.


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  1. Randy 26 August, 2011 at 18:45

    This could make the price of Rookies go WAY up. For example if only a few products are made late in the season, they could be pricey!

  2. Tom Waldron 26 August, 2011 at 20:26

    I bet Upper Deck issues something , remember the colleget liscencing is their’s to run with.
    Looks like a bunch of redemptions rc’s this year if any are produced.
    Do we forget 98 and how that played out.
    Hey Chris I hear Swish and his wife are going to visit our troops nice to see that kind of effort for those who fight for our Freedom to buy cards.
    Side note —Remeber the Desert Storm -topps 91 set I wonder if anyone has listed a set on Beckett ot what would a set book these days.

  3. Charlie DiPietro 26 August, 2011 at 22:14

    Upper Deck accepted my order for 2011-12 SP Authentic Basketball with an expected street date of 27 September 2011 (verified on the Upper Deck B2B web page just now).

    From mod: Upper Deck is not an NBA licensee.

  4. Paul Angilly 27 August, 2011 at 00:07

    Ironically, this could put Upper Deck in a prime position to make basketball cards with its NCAA license. It’ll essentially have the exclusive until the lockout ends, assuming it can get its act together enough to take advantage of that fact.

  5. steve 27 August, 2011 at 01:21

    I feel so sorry…..for the greedy owners & greedy players in this situation (just like with the NFL) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Cindy 27 August, 2011 at 11:25

    Sp Authentic Basketball is no longer recognized by Beckett as Rookie Cards since they are collegiate. If we have no season will we have two different sets of rookies in 12-13 or just combine the last two years together?

  7. steve 27 August, 2011 at 19:55

    hey Charlie……just cause they took your order (and Im assuming some sort of funds), doesnt mean they will be making that set. Im just saying………………………………………

  8. XstreamINsanity 29 August, 2011 at 06:35

    To my knowledge, they (being Panini and the NBA) will consider any player playing their first (available) year in the league as a rookie year, so yeah, there’d be “two” sets. They should probably even come out with a “RC” product since you’d have two years worth. I just with the NBA players would get together like the NFL players did and still practice together rather than going overseas. I pray every day for a 2011-12 NBA season. Please please please. Not just for the cards, but for the games. :)

  9. chrisolds 29 August, 2011 at 08:00

    If there are no NBA sets made in 2011-12, then ALL players making their first card appearances on 2012-13 cards would be RCs regardless of their draft year.

  10. RG 31 August, 2011 at 04:36

    “A season without basketball is one thing — a season without basketball cards?”

    Lmao, I’d much rather have a season without basketball cards than a season without basketball.

  11. Sports Cards Addict 3 September, 2011 at 17:52

    Losing a season of the NBA is totally not cool. It’s bad enough that Paninni is the only company making NBA cards now. I’m more ready for that to end that the NBA season to begin.

  12. Joshua (jpleazme) 22 September, 2011 at 03:36

    If no cards are produced in 11-12, pictures will still be taken or reused, like UD & TOPPS have done in the past. UD used the same pictures in SPGU & SP SIGS 08-09… I got a Farmar card from both sets, only difference is the product logo & one is serialized & the other is not… same with the gold version. I’m still waiting on 4 of these cards to be redeemed, even after I picked up a few online..

    locks outs are all a gimmick… same as blackouts on tv… happens all the time in San Diego with the chargers & padres.. they threaten a blackout, so everybody jumps & buys tickets… some people can not afford to go to every game, nor pay for cable.. so they have to watch it on regular tv or if they are of age, the bar.. hey, they have free food on sundays & mondays…

    Panini will find a way to release their products… they want to pinch every penny out of us collectors… RC’s will have redemptions like always… that’s a given.. we’ll get upset, but still spend thousands of dollars on cardboard… our kids, those that are interested in collecting basketball cards, will save their milk money to buy a few singles online, since they can’t afford any of Panini’s products… wallmart, walgreens, target, and kmart will not have any sports cards, because they are already searched through our bought. I have yet to find a wallmart that has basketball cards in san diego… & there are, what, atleast 12-15 of them in San Diego County.. I been to atleast 10 of them..

    Once cards are produced and released to the public.. panini should lower the prices of boxes/packs, because they are going to flood the market with more kobe autos… they will be releasing a product every other week…. so they can try to get our money.. but they will have to rethink that one… because us collectors have decided to start chasing older inserts & autos.. even a few rare base cards from the 90’s… anybody see the Kobe Precious GEM that’s online right now??

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