Report: Fanatics Lands NBA, NBAPA Basketball Card Licenses

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It’s going to be more than baseball for Fanatics’ new trading card company. Basketball appears to be on the horizon as well.

Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting that Fanatics has agreed to deals with both the NBA and the NBAPA, taking over from Panini in 2026.

It had been reported last week that Fanatics had something in place with the Players Association. To that end, the addition of the NBA isn’t a surprising development but it’s nonetheless important.

Last week, Sportico noted that Fanatics and the NFLPA also had an agreement.

Panini has held the NBA exclusive since 2009-10, taking over from both Topps and Upper Deck. Although the Panini name was known around the world at that point, it was largely due to stickers. After landing the basketball exclusive, Panini acquired Donruss/Playoff and established Panini America.

In the years that followed, Panini has added several other licenses including the MLBPA, NASCAR, the vast majority of the NCAA, Premier League Soccer and, most recently, UFC. Panini has had the NFL exclusive since 2016.

Although details on the agreement aren’t known, Charania notes that both the players and the NBA have a stake in the new Fanatics trading card venture. This is similar to what has been reported for baseball.

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Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

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  1. JDonovan 23 August, 2021 at 15:13

    The entire sports card industry will be under a new name in 2026. I know both Topps and Panini have had issues with distribution and quite frankly most of the cards produced in the past few years have been disappointing. But to put the entire industry in the hands of a sports card company that is not even FORMED yet, just seems ridiculous. I am just a collector, not an investor, but if I were an investor I would be seriously worried on the future value of cards right now.

  2. Bill Palian 24 August, 2021 at 10:18

    Moving toward a monopoly of the trading card industry which is circumvented by collective bargaining agreements. Not a fan of Fanatics. Guess my collecting of new issues ends when they take over. Will concentrate on increasing my substantial vintage collection.

  3. Justin Jeffries 24 August, 2021 at 14:03

    By 2025 , the sportscard collecting hobby is going to be much different, and I am not at all optimistic about that future. These exclusive licensing arrangements are going to prove to be the ultimate downfall (I still miss Topps Football). The “exclusives” have already changed the hobby for the worse. I could list of whole bunch of things that annoy me. Worst of all, young people have virtually no enthusiasm for collecting, and then there’s the fact that you can’t even find regular cards these days in stores. In my experience with the hobby, nothing will ever compare with those days when you rode your bikes (with your friends) down to the corner store to buy packs, open them in parking lot, and then take them home to sort them and trade them to build your set. I can say this: As Topps exits the hobby, so will I. Topps isn’t perfect, but it is the tradition.

  4. jlargetx 24 August, 2021 at 15:11

    The only way this works is if they allow multiple companies (topps, panini, upper deck, etc) all to produce licensed cards and pay them a royalty. One company having a total grip over the entire hobby is a disaster for the hobby. Higher prices (if that is even possible) and poor customer service with no one to challenge them. I’m watching closely before I dump everything I have for a new hobby after 35 yrs in.

  5. Rob S. 24 August, 2021 at 23:00

    I think it is time that the government looks into this very lopsided monopoly that Michael Rubin has created throughout the entire sports (and entertainment) collectibles industry with his Fanatics company.

  6. Jeremy 25 August, 2021 at 15:50

    This is just more proof (as if we need more) that the powers that be only care about the bottom line. If sports franchises as well as the companies that make licensed merchandise were owned by people that were real fans then things would be much different.

  7. steve ragner 9 September, 2021 at 07:40

    I HOPE THAT they talk to topps upper deck..if THEY WERE in basketball THE FANS WOULD happy..more to collect..and BETTER REGULAR set buliding.. like chrome..full sets to..panini has BROKEN THEM DOWN MADE them score..topps HAS BEEN AROUND FROM THE start..more attention to higher end than the average MIDDLE priced cards..if. true the younger KIDS ARNT it..BECAUSE of price…I THINK THAT should be fixed..I’d LIKE IT if we COULD GO BACK to upper deck bowman..skybox..fleer..hoops..topps threads..if WE GET to pick and choose..the card companies WILL MAKE more MONEY THAN WHAT gas happened now… I HOPE THAT this can come ABOUT some how.. COLLECTER..Steve Ragner

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