NBA Rookie Cards finally arrive … well, sort of



By Chris Olds | Beckett Basketball Editor | Commentary

With the arrival of 2011-12 Past & Present from Panini America today, the hobby finally has its first Rookie Cards for this season’s young stars.

Well, sort of.

As previously announced, the rookies are found via redemption cards and there are three types of cards to chase — all looking pretty similar to each other. (Need a checklist or OPG when available soon? Click here.)

First, there are autographed redemptions for the 2011-12 NBA Draft class, capped by Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers. There are 35 cards in that one — but all redemptions are blind. There will be a “draft” assigning players to the redemption cards (letters A-Z and then AA-II) live and online in late October. The company has not announced whether all cards were created in the same quantities.


Second, there are redemptions for cards of the 2012-13 NBA Draft class — these cards are specific to the actual draft pick number, meaning you can pull the No. 1 or No. 2 pick and so on. There are 25 cards in this one.

Third, there is a complete set redemption for all 25 cards in the 2012-13 NBA Draft class.

The most-expensive seller so far in online auctions has been the No. 2 card for the 2012-13 class, which sold for $200, while a 2011-12 “Card A” sold for $150 — but remember, that card does not mean it will be of the No. 1 pick because of the online draft set for Oct. 29. The only other two cards to sell so far in the opening day were in the $50-$60 range and were cards from each set.

Which ones will end up being most-popular is anyone’s guess, but asking prices for the unsigned set card have pushed $1,000 as collectors are perhaps unsure about what they have at this point — or how rare those cards might be. Clearly, the signed cards should be more in-demand than the unsigned cards of players to be drafted next year, but one has to wonder whether any certain cards might be tougher to find than others or whether the random draw for those cards will (as it should) float the boat for all sales of the redemptions. (Side question: How would you feel paying about more for a card if it ends up being a guy who was the final pick in the draft?)

So, yes, the move is creative — and it’s one that should help spark some action on the secondary market for these cards. But one does have to wonder whether it might frustrate collectors who just want a Rookie Card of the new guys right now (or last month). After all, the season is over and none of this year’s rookies have even a single standard, basic Rookie Card yet — let alone anything autographed. And, optimistically, it’s going to be November before collectors get their hands on those cards. (The move and delay is reportedly so the league can do a combined rookie photo shoot/signing session with members of both draft classes all at once, but that has not been formally announced.)

So, now, with the arrival of Past & Present we have the RCs … but we don’t.

Will this work? How will it really work out as more and more cards arrive up for sale? It’s a fair pair of questions, and it’s a topic that will be talked about just as much as the efforts to make the players’ cards creative — and more valuable. That’s a good move to a degree, but one just has to wonder whether most collectors will respond positively to innovation and creativity if it makes their hobby more complicated and draws out the wait for what many of them have been asking for for some time. Some collectors will love the results, others still just want basic cards — and could have been satisfied with game-action photography from last fall.

There is no right or wrong answer here, but how collectors respond to these cards — with their buying habits — will show us all precisely what they think in the coming days and weeks.

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



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  1. RJ 18 May, 2012 at 01:02

    Crap, all of it. Let’s see, take a really bad situation with basketball cards this year and compound it with completely ambiguous REDEMPTIONS. Awful, awful, awful.

  2. RJ 18 May, 2012 at 01:14

    It’s bad enough if, say, you want to buy a REDEMPTION card for Kyrie Irving, Jimmer Fredette or Anthony Davis, just because of the uncertainty of whether/how long it takes for them to sign and for how long you’ll have to wait for your card.

    Now, you don’t even know which REDEMPTION you have? Seriously, who thinks of this stuff? Do any of them read the forums/blogs?

    For what it’s worth, I really like Panini basketball cards … I just think they did a horrible job this year, and to me, the lockout is only an excuse for the first product or two of the season.

    There is absolutely NO excuse for not having just base cards of rookies in a product that releases in the middle of May — almost five months after the season started!

  3. Richard 18 May, 2012 at 03:12

    Not the first time a redemption was not known who it was for.
    Finest had it such that you actually needed to look at the serial # to see who
    you were going to get.

  4. Heath 18 May, 2012 at 06:08

    chasing something you don’t know what your chasing , and then having to wait until october to find out what you got ? The season is long over for these rookies, your telling me it takes this long to make an actual card of them, and then your going to try and spin it off in some redemption plan. maybe panini should have stayed in the sticker market overseas. They may as well just make National Treasures and be done . everything looks the same, and loaded with the same $2-4 hits.

  5. JeffNSU 18 May, 2012 at 10:43

    Blame the league and the players for the lockout. That caused all the problems this year.

    Some sellers on eBay are confused and are selling the 2011 auto redemptions based on the slot the player was drafted instead of knowing that it will be a random draw. I’ve been able to get a bunch of redemptions under $50 because of stupid sellers.

  6. Corey 18 May, 2012 at 12:07

    So where does that put the Irving National Card Convention Promo card, is it no longer going to be worth anything, or is it his true rc?

  7. Steve 18 May, 2012 at 18:28

    Dear Panini,

    I really hope you are listening to this;

    I was a collector as a kid back in the early 90’s. I collected all sports at that time, but later fell out of the hobby like many other people.

    I have since decided to re-visit the hobby, now in my late twenties. I decided I would focus my collecting only on basketball due to it being my favorite sport. I have bought many of your products this year, including boxes of Hoops, Preferred, and now a couple boxes of Past and Present.

    While I admire the artistic nature of all the cards you produce, I must say, the “redemption” cards are going to cause you to lose a lot of customers. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall in your marketing meeting when your team made this decision. Although, I don’t think I would have been able to contain my laughter…

    This idea is simply ridiculous. The future of this industry lies in the hands of young people. And as a kid, the last thing I would have wanted to do was open a card and have to wait to “redeem” it several months down the road. How is that fun? Not only that, but the Past and Present set doesn’t even allow you the opportunity to know what you’re getting. This is a terrible idea… By the time you run your online “draft” for the cards, people are already going to be thinking about the 2012-13 season. No one is going to care about this season’s rookie class anymore.

    I strongly encourage you to consider removing the redemption cards from all future sets. Keep in mind the future of the hobby, which includes a much younger generation of people than the ones making your marketing decisions. If you take the fun out of collecting, you are going to lose that valuable demographic.

    Thank you.

  8. Nick Tegeler 18 May, 2012 at 21:01

    I agree with a lot of other posts on here. Panini is making a big mistake by using MORE redemptions. I hope this is not going to be a every year thing for basketball rookie cards. They already put WAY too many redemptions in their products. More than any other company out there, and that’s not to mention they are also the worst at redeeming them or sending a replacement in a timely manner. Plus their customer service stinks to the heavens!!! I am still waiting on cards from 2009-10 and have asked for replacements more than 4 months ago for some and am still waiting on those as well. Every time I call they are having their phone service switched over and that’s been going on now for over a month. They must be using cavemen to switch it over, I have NEVER heard of it taking this long to switch a phone service.

  9. Charlie DiPietro 18 May, 2012 at 21:47

    Panini was strongly considering not producing any basketball products for 2011-12 because there was no way to economically acquire a significant number of rookie autographs before the season ended. Feedback received from collectors, card shops, internet retailers and distributers convinced Panini that collectors preferred having basketball product this year with draft pick redemptions over not having any basketball products at all.

    Understanding that people would prefer having actual autographed cards over redemptions, 2011-12 Past & Present Basketball has received very favorable response from box busters in my store. They love the retro designs, the autographs, the inserts and yes, they like pulling the 2011 Draft Pick Auto Redemption Card # 0.

    While I would prefer not to wait until late October to run the 2011 Draft Pick “Live Draft,” no one has complained when they pulled the Card #0 in my store. The concept of running a “Live Draft” for the 2011 Draft Class soon after Panini has acquired the autographs at a signing event is a creative concept. It adds, and will continue to add interest to the product until the “Live Draft.”

    Viewing the prices paid for the “Card #0” on eBay, a significant number of the people who buy cards don’t seem to be bothered by the fact that they will have to wait to find out what RC they’ve won. Pulling a card that consistently sells on eBay from $50 to $150, is much better than pulling an autograph no one wants to buy for $5.

  10. charles faires 19 May, 2012 at 13:57

    I would agree with Mr. DePietro that it would be hard for panini to make cards, to a point, they could have done a draft set w/ autos there was plenty of time for that, they do it in football every year, its started before the season begins, they know the teams they use the heck out of photo shop anyway, they use stickers autos all the time, i know even if you don’t get complants at your shop, doesn’t mean everything is ok, we are given very little recourse, and this doesn’t sit well as you can see by most of the comments in this artical, ebay has a lot of bottom feeders, they will play on the posistion panini is forcing on collectors. i don’t know, panini is growing as far as redemption king, and maybe thats a title thay don’t want

  11. steve 19 May, 2012 at 23:32

    yeah…….blame the league & the players-dont blame Panini for being just as corrupt as the owners, the league & most of all-THE PLAYERS !!!! ( these multi-millionaire players, in some cases, who need to sue card companies-for anywheres from a few $K to as much as $50K -I think that was Eli in the NFL…….but still need to ‘squeeze’ as much as they can because hookers & cocaine aint free people !!).

    WHO CARES !!!!!

    collecting was fun….when I started (and still is….most the time)

  12. Kingbudd 20 May, 2012 at 00:46

    Will you classify these cards as 2011-12 rookie cards or 2012-13 rookie cards since they are numbered XRC? It would be nice to have a very short print rookie card since only P&P, Limited, and Gold Standard will have 2011-12 rookie cards. But it depends on how you classify these rookies will determine scarcity and drive the price either up or down.

  13. Lazer-A 20 May, 2012 at 06:46

    1. Hire a few photographers.
    2. Send photographers to NBA games.
    3. Take pictures of rookies.
    4. Make cards of said rookies
    5. Put them in packs.
    6. Don’t worry about rookie autographs untill next year when we have a full season.

  14. chrisolds 20 May, 2012 at 10:33

    Lazer: It’s actually simpler than that by using a photo service.

    Kingbudd: Should be 2011-12 cards. I don’t know the final call, but my gut feeling is XRC is likely.

  15. XstreamINsanity 23 May, 2012 at 10:04

    I really wish I could see the license that the NBA and Panini have so maybe we could see what they state in there, if anything is stated in there, about rookie cards. Even still, regardless what Panini does, they would have gotten flack from somewhere. If they produced regular base RC, people who like RPM and AU RC would have complained. By them doing the draft for the rookie class, they get at least AU in there and maybe even GAME USED material instead of just Event Used material (though, I have a feeling it will be more towards event used). Also, even though I don’t want it like this every year, there is something I do like about the draft aspect. When you have a draft that goes two rounds and then you have other signings done in the off season, you can potentially have 60+/- rookies in a year. Many times, the companies will put out rookies from higher picks and more well known schools. By them doing this draft redemption hopefully they’ll choose the top performing rookies of the year rather than just who they think should be in it (though I think there are a lot of redemption cards, like 30 or something). That’s a hope (and idea Panini if you’re reading). However, because I don’t know what the license says, I don’t know whether Panini is on the hook for rookie cards this year or the league’s license. Licenses change over time, so whatever happened 10+ years ago may not be in the contract this time. We’ll have rookies in some respect and next year will be better.

    As far as the redemptions from Panini in general, you might want to check out their blog. They’ve hired a new CS manager and from the comments being left on there, and here on the forums, they’ve been getting them out faster and more timely. If you don’t know where their blog is, They put out weekly updates of redemptions they’ve received and from whom, so you can check and see if yours is in. Also, Tracy is pretty good at responding to redemption questions in posts or directing you to someone who can help you.

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