Panini bringing rarely done relics to NBA cards




By Chris Olds | Beckett Basketball Editor | Commentary

When it comes to game-used memorabilia, not much is more iconic for a basketball player than his shoes.

Unlike other sports, where there’s more equipment that can be used and customized to show a player’s unique touches, basketball fans ultimately only have jerseys, shorts, warm-ups, basketballs and shoes as their game-used choices. That also translates into a few options when it comes to game-used cards.

Panini America is aiming to change that.



The lone licensee of NBA cards will be making game-used memorabilia cards that we haven’t seen in some time sometime soon as it will include game-used Kobe Bryant shoes and game-used net cards from last year’s NBA Finals  in its Father’s Day hobby shop promotion packs arriving at participating stores on June 17.

Could these cards be an indicator of more to come in its products? Or a series of standalone memorabilia cards sold via Panini Authentic, its game-used memorabilia division? Or, are they planned for the upcoming Kobe tribute set to be found in every single Panini brand this coming season?

We’ll have to wait and see.

But it’s a good choice. After all, what might be more iconic than a game-used shoe card for a player who has a signature shoe line?

In basketball, the answer to that question  is “nothing.”

Interestingly, as important as shoes are for the sport, its identity, its players and its business, there haven’t been many game-used basketball cards made using shoes. According to the database, only 109 different basketball cards featuring pieces of game-used shoe have been made through the years. And none have been made since 2004. (Need a checklist of these cards or an OPG? Click here.)

Yes, game-used shoes are probably pricier to make. They yield fewer swatches for a high price (as game-used shoes aren’t often cheap) and they aren’t easy to cut up. Meanwhile, though, there might not be a more memorable card swatch to be found out there as shoes can feature designs, materials and textures like nothing else on the court — and nothing else on cards.

What’s next … autographed cards of future basketball Hall of Famer and Nike founder Phil Knight?

There are quite a few possibilities to kick around with this little unexplored area of manufacturing and collecting.

It should be interesting to see what collectors can find next.

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. joe 8 June, 2012 at 12:32

    I love the COA on these cards. No vague, unclear statement. It even gives the date. I wish all game used cards hade this absolutly clear COS. Good job Panini. Now let’s hope that these cards will be in packs.

  2. Richard 8 June, 2012 at 15:48

    Yep, agree with Joe.
    Picture of the item and a specific statement about it. I understand the desire to save time, but I
    think that this is the way to go, especially for rarer items and more desirable players.
    AND, they can reuse the back for every item generated from that piece of memorabilia.

  3. David Johnson 8 June, 2012 at 18:36

    Love that they not only include a picture of the shoes on the back of the card but also the exact date of the game in which they were used. I really hope they continue this on other products.

  4. ernest lantto 8 June, 2012 at 21:11

    shoe cards are not new. they have been putting them in football products for years and when they had a baseball deal they put shoes pieces in that to. so it is not new at all.

  5. Nick Tegeler 8 June, 2012 at 22:27

    I have a lot of bad opinions about Panini, but I think this is a step in the right direction. I agree with these guys and think all game used stuff should carry this kind of cos. I also think the hobby needs this too as far as when it comes to game used cards.

  6. J.R. Lebert 8 June, 2012 at 23:26

    Joe, you hit the nail on the head! EXACT DATE. EXACT ITEM. Even a PICTURE of the item! Panini, I have been on the fence, until now! I will definitely be picking up one of these on the secondary market!

  7. Antwan 9 June, 2012 at 04:25

    That would be a great card for any collector. This shoud be the standard for all game-used cards from here on out.

  8. chrisolds 9 June, 2012 at 11:38

    Ernest: where in the story does it say anything about new?

    J.R.: game-dating of memorabilia items is not possible — in fact it’s impossible — for a majority of items out there.

  9. joe 9 June, 2012 at 14:20

    Chris you are so missing the point. Game dating on all memorabilia pieces would be difficult we all understand that. What I, and several others are saying is that the COA on the back of the card should remove all doubt that the enclosed memorabilia piece is from that player whether it is game used or player worn. Let me pose a question to you Chris. Let’s say a loved one purchase an Authentic Game Used Bat of your favorite player. The bat Is a Louisville Slugger bat with the players name on it. You would be stoked. Then you look at the COA and it reads “CONGRATULATION, THE BAT YOU NOW OWN IS NOT FROM ANY SPECIFIC GAME, SEASON OR EVENT.” That’s all it has on. It does not connect that bat to the player at all. Honestly, would you still be stoked or would you question the authenticity of that bat.
    Chris you and Beckett Media are the representative of we the collectors. We the collectors are screaming that we want, Just like the card companies had in the past an offical COA. That COA on the back of the card should connect the pieces of memorabilia to that player. “CONGRATULATION, YOU HAVE RECIEVED A PLAYERS NAME AUTHENTIC GAME USED BAT. WE CERTIFY THAT THIS BAT WAS USED IN AN OFFICAL MLB GAME.” This is nothing new. The card companies use to put that. The front of the card IS NOT the COA. Just like the bat that the loved one bought you, the bat itself IS NOT the COA. Your COA should read that it is an offical MLB Bat USED by that person. Come on Beckett help use make this hobby better and accountable for the memorabilia that they are giving us.

  10. ernest lantto 9 June, 2012 at 19:38

    chris the title says RARELY DONE RELICS and i said this is not new as it has been done way to many times. the only nice thing is it says when they were worn and not saying this is not from any paticular game or event.
    the will get 1000 pieces per shoe unlike 20,000 per jersey. not new and just another piece of worthless memoribila that you will say book value is 5.00 low 10.00 high unless it is kobe or lebron.

  11. George McFly 10 June, 2012 at 09:56

    How would it be impossible? A simple sticker or tag on an item with the game used information, seems pretty possible to me.

  12. XstreamINsanity 10 June, 2012 at 19:21

    It’s not that it’s impossible, it’s more than likely not “practical”. For them to do this, they would have to raise the costs of the products higher than they already are (well, that’s how they’d justify it). Having a standard COA saves them a lot of hassle and money. A lot of people wouldn’t find manufacturers raising prices on products because they needed new software and labor practices to manage/track each piece of GU material for each player. Stickers could be used to track them, but that’s inefficient because stickers can easily fall off or get attached to another piece of material (I believe they store the cut up pieces in bins, could be wrong). They’d have to keep track of how many pieces came from each jersey and then if they ran out in the middle of the print run for a particular set, they’d have to change the COA, which isn’t that easy nor cheap. It is possible, just not practical.

  13. George McFly 11 June, 2012 at 08:10

    @XstreamINsanity.. You would think, by now, they would be able to calculate the number of pieces from a piece of memorabilia they would be able to cut. By doing so, they would not need to change the COA, as they know how many pieces (cards) they can produce from a single game used item.

  14. XstreamINsanity 11 June, 2012 at 11:55

    @George McFly (Love the name by the way, lol) – This card has a different sized swatch than this card. Therefore, they can’t just cut jerseys the same way all of the time. I could be wrong on this, but most swatches are under 1″x1″, so they may cut a few jerseys from a player and get 10,000 swatches, store them in a bin in some big room (labeled bin or not) and then when they need swatches for cards like the first link I provided (print run of 499), they have someone go pull out the bin and start counting 499 swatches. This is probably the most practical solution for them, but again, this may not be how they actually do it. But say you have a set and you have regular swatches in the set (say 1″x1″) and you have Mugsy Bogues and Shaquille O’Neal in the set. Their jerseys would produce different amounts of swatches. Now, if you are trying to keep them the same print run (as in most cases), you’ll have left over from Shaq. What do you do with the remainder? So you’d have to have a way to keep track of all of the jerseys from different games. If you have a bin for each, now you need a very large storage facility for this. Can it be done, yes. Is it business practical? No. You’d have to justify to the public that the cost increases are for extra storage, software development, and quality control as well as changing the COA if needed per the same card in the set. And as pricey as products have already become, most collectors won’t buy (literally and figuratively) that excuse.

  15. joe 11 June, 2012 at 14:22

    Collectors, do you remember a few years ago when the memorabilia cards COA on the back had “CONGRATULATION YOU HAVE JUST RECIEVED A JERSEY CARD PERSONALLY WORN OR USED BY (PLAYERS NAME) WE HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR CARD) They reused that same statement over and over again. They are just changing the name. Instead they replaced the REAL COA with this carp that doesn’t even connect the player to the memorabilia piece on the card. Further more instead of giving us a real COA they give us player stats or a player bio. Here’s an example. 2011 TOTALLY CERTIFIED HERITAGE COLLECTION. This is a “game used” insert set. You are telling me that it would cost them more money to give us a real COA (the congratulation statement) then it would to give use a player bio. Give me a break. This issue goes to just the main card companies are lazy. Anything to rush the products out. For cryin out loud PRESS PASS & SAGE does a better job.
    The thing I don’t understand is why won’t BECKETT MEDIA take a stand on this issue. This is more of an issue the sticker autographs. At least the autograph tells us that it was signed infront of a rep. of the company.

  16. Joshua (jpleazme805) 11 June, 2012 at 14:23

    I like the phrase on the back of the cards.. saying “gameused” & date item was used… it is very clear….. ………. Not like the Dominique Wilkins Elite Black Box 2010-11 jersey card I have. The jersey was from the team he was drafted by (JAZZ). There are maybe only 1-3 jersey’s that he actually used during photoshoots, since he never played for them. The ELite Black jersey card lists him as being on the jazz, but the jersey is from the Hawks… it is better when the actual jersey swatch/patch matches the uniform of the player pictured on the card & the name the card says the player played on during the time the jersey was worn…. if it is supposed to be “game used”, then the date should be posted… even if card companies lie on the date.. nobody will even know… unless they use a different color jersey (i.e. home or away jerseys.)…

  17. XstreamINsanity 14 June, 2012 at 13:34

    @Joe – By changing the COA, I’m referring to in the middle of a print run. Say for instance you have a RC JSY AU that has a print run of 999. You have been using pieces of the jersey for other sets and the amount of jersey pieces are running out. So you’re in the middle of your 999 print run (say 497) and you run out of jerseys from that particular game. Now you have to change the COA from:

    Congratulations! You’ve received a card autographed by XXXXX XXXXXX. The card also contained a piece of game worn jersey that was worn by XXXXX XXXXXX in a game against the XXXXXX XXXXXXXXX on XX/XX/XXXX.


    Congratulations! You’ve received a card autographed by XXXXX XXXXXX. The card also contained a piece of game worn jersey that was worn by XXXXX XXXXXX in a game against the YYYYYY YYYYYYYY on YY/YY/YYYY.

    Again, I’m not fully familiar on the printing technology used for these cards, but something would have to be changed (my assumption is some printing plate). Therefore, you’d have to have a printing plate for each game you have a jersey for, and that’d have to be specific (due to location on the card I’m guessing) for each brand. Also, the time it would take to manage that (software, storage, changing of printing plates) costs.

    What do you mean by you don’t understand why Beckett Media doesn’t take a stand on this issue? Beckett Media is no governing body for sports cards so they can’t really take a stand on anything. It would more be the comments from the collectors that would entice manufacturers to change anything, or maybe the federal government (due to the FBI investigations for other companies for using counterfeit jerseys/memorabilia).

  18. chrisolds 14 June, 2012 at 18:26

    Xstream: You’re on the right track. Now think about the fact that there are roughly 110 cards printed per sheet … and if multiple cards needed multiple changes? The costs add up quite fast.

    In the printing world, NO plate changes mean the lowest cost and shortest amount of time spent. And time is money in all directions with making cards.

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