Wednesday, February 22, 2017

NBA Encylopedia #2 : Name Changes

For the second installment of the NBA Encyclopedia, I'm backtracking a bit and stepping forward a bit to showcase ten players who have changed their names during their career- and have cards of both names in my collection.

They will be sorted by the new name they have chosen for themselves, not their original name.

#11 Zaid Abdul-Aziz / Don Smith
1969-70 Topps #52

1975-76 Topps #49
 Born Donald Smith in Brooklyn, NY, he changed his name to Zaid Abdul-Aziz according to Wikipedia in 1976, although I am dubious to the correctness of that as he appears under the name on his 1975-76 Topps card, shown here. He played 505 games over 10 seasons in the NBA, beginning in 1968-69 through 1977-78. He played for the Royals, Bucks, Sonics (twice) Rockets (twice), Braves and Celtics. He led the NBA in Rebounds per game in 1973-74.

#12 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar / Lew Alcindor
1970-71 Topps #75
1977-78 Topps #1 (white back)
One of the all-time greatest players in NBA history, the accolades for Abdul-Jabbar are tremendous. He's the NBA's all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points scored over 1,560 games between 1969-70 and 1988-89. He was an all-star 19 of his 20 seasons in the NBA (missing only 1977-78), 6 time MVP, 11 time All-Defensive, 15 time All-NBA, NBA Rookie of the Year, one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players, and a Hall of Famer. To this day he is the all-time leader in minutes played, shots made and attempted, and personal fouls committed. He ranks second in games played, third in total rebounds and blocks and 10th in free throws. He also ranks 41st all-time in assists, which during his career era was not the forte of centers. (they were getting the ball, not giving it). He scored 5 NBA championships with the Lakers and one with the Bucks, the only one in Milwaukee franchise history. For the majority of his career he was a player that most teams dreaded having to face, because it was known by all that he was going to be nearly unstoppable on the court. About the only thing he did not do was three pointers- he made only one in his career. He is from New York City.

#13 Mahdi Abdul-Raman / Walt Hazzard
1971-72 Topps #24
1973-74 Topps #128
Unlike most players who adopted the Muslim faith, he continued to use both his names during his career. Born in Wilmington, Delaware, he is the first player alphabetically to no longer be alive, passing away in 2011 at age 69. He played 724 games in the NBA from 1964-65 through 1973-74, playing for the Lakers, Sonics (twice), Hawks, Braves and Warriors. Taken by the Seattle SuperSonics in the expansion draft, he was an All-Star in the club's first season of 1967-68.

#14 Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf / Chris Jackson
1992-93 Topps Archives Gold #135

1996-97 Topps #3
Born Chris Jackson in Gulfport, Mississippi, he changed his name to Abdul-Rauf between the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons. He played 586 games over 9 NBA seasons, beginning in 1990-91. He was out of the NBA in 1998-99 and 1999-00, before making a one-season comeback with the Vancouver Grizzlies in 2000-01. He previously played for the Nuggets and Kings. His sole career accolade was winning the 1992-93 Most Improved Player award.

#15 Tariq Abdul-Wahad / Olivier St. Jean
1997-98 Bowman's Best Atomic Refractor #122
I do not have any cards with his original name scanned yet, but he did not play any games under his original name, so I chose to include him now anyway. He changed his name between the draft and his first season of 1997-98 began. He played 236 games over six seasons, from 97-98 through 2002-03. He played for the Kings, Magic, Nuggets and Mavericks. He was the first French player in NBA history. He's the first player among this group that I got to consider myself a fan of during their playing career. Most retired before I discovered the game- two before I was even born.

#16 Ruthie Bolton / Ruthie Bolton-Holifield
1996 Topps USA Women's National Team #2

2000 Topps USA #90
 The first woman to appear on this project, there are not too many to follow her. I include Team USA sets in my main collection and the majority of the WNBA players who appear in my NBA collection come from these sets, but 1999-00 Stadium Club also includes the Women's Olympic team and maybe a couple of other sets do as well. She is from Lucedale, Mississippi, and played in two Olympics, winning gold medals in 1996 and 2000. She is also an Army veteran, which I did not know until I researched this post. She played 8 years in the WNBA, all for the Sacramento Monarchs, and was an all-star in 1999 and 2001. At one point she had been married to someone named Holifield but no longer is.

#17 Bison Dele / Brian Williams
1993-94 Ultra #240

1999-00 MVP
Born Brian Williams but changing his name to Bison Dele before his final NBA season, the story of Williams/Dele is a sad one. It's believed that he was murdered by his own brother, although his brother was adamant he was living in French Polynesia before committing suicide to prevent going to jail for the murder of Dele, Dele's girlfriend and the captain of Dele's sailboat. He played 413 games over 8 seasons in the NBA, (1991-92 though 1998-99) for the Magic, Nuggets, Clippers, Bulls and Pistons. He won a championship with the Bulls in 1996-97. Known as somewhat eccentric, he retired after year #2 of a 5 year contract that was due to pay him several million dollars, I remember at the time it was a perplexing choice that he never explained. His father was a member of the Platters music group.

#18 Diaw, Boris / Diaw-Riffiod, Boris
2003-04 Fleer Showcase #103

2015-16 Hoops #255
Something a lot of people probably don't know is that Diaw is an abbreviation, his full name is Diaw-Riffiod. He made the decision in his rookie NBA season to just use Diaw and that is how he is mostly known. Some of his early cards, however, include his full name. He is currently a member of the Utah Jazz. The native of Cormeille-en-Parisis, France, has previously played for the Hawks, Suns, Bobcats and Spurs, where he won a Championship in 2013-14. He also was named the NBA's Most Improved Player in 2005-06 while a member of the Suns. As of this writing he has appeared in 1039 NBA games. Before coming to the NBA in 2003-04 he played professionally in Europe although those stats are not reflected here. 

#19 World B. Free / Lloyd Free
1976-77 Topps #143

1984-85 Star #217
Born Lloyd Free, he was nicknamed All-World while in junior high, and the day before he turned 28, he legally changed his name to World, and with Bernard being his middle name, World B. Free was "born". He played 886 games over 13 seasons between 1975-76 and 1987-88. He played for the 76ers, Clippers, Warriors, Cavaliers, Sixers again and Houston. He currently works for the 76ers. When I first started collecting, and heard there was a player named World B. Free, it was pretty mind blowing, at least to a 12 year old. It would be a few years before I learned he wasn't born with that name, but it doesn't matter. He had already been cemented as a favorite among players I had never gotten to see play. He hails from Atlanta. 

#20 Armen Gilliam / Armon Gilliam
1995-96 Stadium Club #172

1999-00 Topps Tipoff #22
Born Armon Gilliam, he legally changed his name before his final season of 1999-00 because he was tired of people pronouncing it wrong, it was always supposed to be pronounced as "Armen", not "Armon" so he changed it. Most places list his 1999-00 cards as UERs but that is in fact incorrect. He played 929 games between 1987-88 and 1999-00 as noted. He played for the Suns, Hornets, 76ers, Nets, Bucks and Jazz. Unfortunately, he only lived to 47 years old, felled by a heart attack in 2011. 

Post #3 returns back to the letter A picking up where I left off after Michael Adams.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

NBA Encyclopedia #1

Some people do all-time team rosters...I do all-time league rosters! 

I've mentioned in the past that one of my main projects is to have every NBA person who has gotten a card into my collection. While the majority of the cards are of players, there are also coaches, team owners, broadcasters, and even celebrity fans of the game who have gotten cards. As of the time of this writing, 2/21/2017, I have more than 2700 people in my collection. I'm going to take a look through each of them, 10 people at a time, in (mostly) alphabetical order. There are some I have not scanned any cards of yet so they will be pushed off for later.

How I reckon my collection: It must be an individual player card. It can't be a team card, a card shared with anyone else, a League Leader card, and no college cards. Multi-sport releases are also not counted for the scope of this project. WNBA players will be included if they were included in one of the Team USA sets or an NBA flagship set.

I'm going to do 10 players at a time, because it's a nice round number and I should be able to fit all of their names into the tag list. It also means I might actually complete this project in the next century as opposed to my original plan of one post for each person (lol)

I will write a very brief biography for them which details the length of their career and who they played for. What I can't do, yet, is tell you how many cards I have of each person, because I lost that information to a floppy disk crash in 2005 or so and won't be able to recapture that information until I finish scanning my entire collection, and I did not want to put this project off until then.

We begin with the alphabetical first player in NBA History, #1 Alaa Abdelnaby.

1992-93 Upper Deck #70
Alaa Abdelnaby is the only NBA player who was born in Egypt (Cairo), although his family moved to the USA when he was 2. He played in the NBA from 1990-91 through 1994-95, playing for the Blazers, Kings, Bucks, Celtics and 76ers. He played in 256 total games with the majority of them being for the Trail Blazers. He currently is a broadcaster for the Philadelphia 76ers.

(Note: I am skipping players with multiple names, they will get a post of their own, soon!)

#2 Shareef Abdur-Rahim
2001-02 Topps Pristene Refractor #14
Marietta, Georgia native Shareef Abdur-Rahim was part of the legendary draft class of 1996, and played in the NBA from 1996-97 through 2007-08. He played for the Vancouver Grizzlies, Hawks, Kings and Trail Blazers. He played 830 games and was an All-Star in 2001-02. He has spent time in the front office for the Kings but as far as I know is no longer a member of that organization.

#3 Alex Acker
2005-06 Rookie Debut #122
Alex Acker, from Compton, California, is the first player in this project who has only one card in my collection. He appeared in only 30 NBA games, for the Detroit Pistons and LA Clippers. He played two years in the NBA, 2005-06 and 2008-09. The photo on this card is from the Summer League.

#4 Mark Acres
1989-90 Hoops #73
Mark Acres played six years in the NBA, from 1987-88 through 1992-93, playing for the Celtics, Magic, Rockets and Bullets. He was one of the players taken by the Magic in their expansion draft. He hails from Inglewood California, making every player in this post so far have ties to California, either being born there or playing there. Acres played 375 games.

#5 Quincy Acy
2012-13 Panini #219
Quincy Acy is the first player who is still in the NBA, currently a member of the Brooklyn Nets. (he does not have a card with the Nets as of yet). As of this writing he has played 237 NBA games, with the Raptors, Kings, Knicks, Kings again, Mavericks and now, as noted, the Nets. He has been in the NBA since 2012-13. Acy is from Tyler, Texas.

#6 Alvan Adams
1981-82 Topps #W79
Career Sun Alvan Adams played 988 games in the NBA from 1975-76 through 1987-88, made the All-Star Game his rookie year and later took home Rookie of the Year honors that same season. The Lawrence, Kansas native is the first player to not have any ties to California.

#7 George Adams
1975-76 Topps #264
George Adams, of Kings Mountain, North Carolina, played his entire three year career with the San Diego Sails of the ABA. He played 215 games from 1972-73 through 1974-75. He is the first ABA only player to appear in this project, but the ABA players are included as the NBA absorbed the ABA.

#8 Hassan Adams
2006-07 Ultra #238
Hassan Adams played 73 games over two seasons in the NBA, one with the Nets and one with the Raptors, in 2006-07 and 2008-09. This is my only card of him and unfortunately it does not depict him in the NBA. He is also from Inglewood, California.

#9 Jordan Adams
2014-15 Panini Prizm Blue Mojo Relic #85
Jordan Adams played 32 games over two years with the Memphis Grizzlies, 30 of which during his rookie year of 2014-15, but a recurring knee injury appears to have ended his career before it even really began. He has not played ball-in the NBA or elsewhere-since a major knee surgery after two games of the 2015-16 season. He is from Atlanta, Georgia and is yet another player with a California tie-he attended UCLA.

#10 Michael Adams
1992-93 Fleer #228
Michael Adams, of Hartford, Connecticut, played 653 games over 11 NBA seasons. He played for the Kings, Bullets (twice), Nuggets and Hornets. Although I mostly associate him with the Bullets, due to being who most of his cards are with, he played the most games for the Nuggets, being their starting point guard from 1987-91. He played from 1985-86 through 1995-96, and stood only 5 foot 10. He was an All-Star in 1991-92.

And that's the first ten! Stay tuned for future posts, as I document from Abdelnaby to Zwikker.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Shouting into the void / pondering memory

Yesterday, Tony at Off Hiatus Baseball Cards put up a post talking about the 1954 Topps Scoop set, which I enjoyed as it's my all-time favorite non-sport set.

Yet in the comments, several regular readers/commenters of mine said they had never seen the set before.

Even though I've posted about it multiple times. Here's the tag I have for it, though it does not cover every post as in some cases I've run out of space in the tag section and listed the card subject instead of the set, usually the first thing I bump for lack of space. 1954 Topps Scoop. I've written a couple more that remain in  my queue as well.

This kind of threw me into a bit of a funk, I saw this not long before bed and I stewed on it the rest of the night and this morning. I've not been in a good mood lately anyway and it really makes me wonder why I even post things, sometimes it seems like a fool's errand; to be honest.

I've always said I do it for myself first and foremost but I also want to get knowledge out there, expose people to cards that I enjoy and I think they might enjoy as well.

Maybe the people I thought were regular readers of mine aren't. Maybe the views I'm seeing on my dashboard are simply my refreshing the page hoping to get a comment that will never come. Maybe I'm wasting my time by doing this. I know that in reality I get more comments than most card bloggers...that's just the insecurity in my head I suppose.

I'd like to think that's not the case, and I know that I miss posts from blogs that I am a regular reader of. Maybe it's some cosmic joke that one of my favorite sets to post about happens to be the blog posts that everyone misses. It could happen.

I like to think that by doing this my knowledge will survive beyond me. I have years of random card trivia in my head that while is not necessarily exclusive to me,  my writing of it is. Hopefully by putting it up on Google, owners of Blogger, it will survive for years to come. I can't guarantee that of course...but if I don't get it down on "paper", it wouldn't even have the chance to survive.

I want to make clear, I am not mad at the bloggers who commented on Tony's post. It just made me wonder if I am banging my head on the proverbial wall or if there is actually some benefit to doing this beyond the simple enjoyment of it. I know that the posts I put the most effort into, the ones I am most proud of, tend to be my least popular. Like I said, cosmic joke.

And that brings me to another topic that I've been pondering. It's about memory. Mine is terrible, as I've noted several times. But I have some great memories of the time period 1988-98. Yet while they may be things I think back on and remember fondly, they really don't matter to anyone else, and since I am not really eloquent enough to properly describe them, they reside in my head alone, and have a finite lifespan. As I read through Archaeology magazine (my favorite) I think about the fact that we know nothing about the people who they are digging up. What was their personality like? What memories made them smile? What was their name? What did they enjoy doing? What had they seen in their lives? What did their voice sound like? We usually don't know...and we have know way of knowing, ever. That's depressing, really. We know the important events for more than 5000 years of human history, but we really don't know the people themselves. What we usually CAN figure out is why they died. That's their only historical notation for most people.

My best memories are of going to Lake George, waking up in the morning and looking out at the water while I ate breakfast, seeing it glint off the sun as the waves moved, seeing the array of boats large and small, the seagulls flying, the leaves blowing softly in the breeze, the slow chugging of the Minne-Ha-Ha's paddle wheel propelling her up and down the lake, echoing off the mountains followed by her steam calliope. That's all gone now. There's no way to really capture it on film, although I have hundreds if not thousands of photos and videos trying. We can't go back to the place where the memories were made, after going there every year- usually more than once a year- from 1987-2012. We still talk about a family trip in 1997 that was only 4 days, yet we crammed in as much as we normally did in our week+ stays. That's another fond memory that is shared by only three people...nobody even knows it existed besides us so nobody else could even remember it. And my terrible memory means most of the details are lost to me. I remember that it was a 4 day trip, it was a lot of fun, and that we did a lot of stuff, but the actual "stuff" that we did...that's lost to me. And as time goes on I'm losing more and more and it's very frustrating.

I can look through our family photos, clearly see myself in some place, doing something...and yet have no memory of it, weather it be the 1990s, 2000s or even just last year.

As I've said that's one of the reasons I began this blog. I wanted to get things written before the memory disappeared. It's worked well. For some reason my collections are something I have been able to remember more details on than other things. I don't know why that is; it's just how my mind works, I suppose. But even that is not as good as it once was...and how I think of it being. My 1/64 NASCAR collection used be #1, especially the Racing Champions section. Yet when I finally created a paper listing and integrated them into my collection proper just last month, I made many mistakes because I simply couldn't remember what was what. That bothered me more than I let on at the time, but I chalked it up to the immense amount of pain I was in...but I don't think it was caused by that at all. I think it's just...me.

What I'm getting at in my usual round-about manner is that I hope by writing this blog, and my other rarely updated blogs, is that I hope that I at least leave some small footprint on history.
I am considering starting two new blogs- one for my automotive photography, and one for my nature photography. But I have put it off so far due to the fact that I rarely ever update my other collection blogs that I know it might not even be worth my effort. I currently have all my photography on my website but unlike Blogger, which is free, my website is something I pay for...and when I am no longer able to pay for it, it will be gone forever.

Here's a favorite photo I've taken.
also my desktop wallpaper

Of course, I'm well familiar with computers crashing, corrupting and losing things- I'm on computer #3, I'm in a multi-year project of recreating my collection files due to them being lost in a floppy disk crash, my remote hard drive fried less than a year ago taking months worth of work, etc. So I am well aware that all I am doing could disappear in an instant and I would have no control over it. But I can't just give up and not do it, either.

I'm sorry to have another "existential crisis" post, and another with no actual card scans in it. I will try and get back to normal card posts next time.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

My first National Hockey Card Day!

Editorial note: The first part of this post is a copy and paste from my post on A Pack to Be Named Later. The new material starts after the Auston Matthews card. 

Today, February 18th, 2017 is National Hockey Card Day in both the USA and Canada. How it works is, if you visit a participating hobby shop, you get some free hockey cards. Pretty simple, no? They've been doing it since 2009 in Canada and 2012 in the USA, but since I just began to collect hockey, this is my first one participating. I'm not sure how big a deal it is, but I didn't roll into my local shop until 3 PM and I was the first one to ask for them. Hopefully it will continue because let's face it, all card collectors love oddball issues. I was afraid they were going to be all sold out-even more so when I discovered that somebody had come in and purchased just about every hockey box in the shop since my last visit a month ago-but I was lucky.

The set primarily includes American born players on American teams, but the Toronto Maple Leafs make an appearance with Auston Matthews being both card #1 in the set, and a special bonus card #16 that usually only comes with a purchase of UD cards, but since I've been a regular at my shop for 17 years, and they had no more hockey cards to purchase, I got one of them too.

The set is not just current players, there are retired legends as well. There are also some super rare autographs as well but I was not lucky enough to pull any of them.

One thing to watch out for, about half the cards I pulled had damage on the back, this was something done at the UD factory, because of the fact that the cards underneath them did not always have damage.
First out of my first pack was Jimmy Vesey, a rookie on the New York Rangers.
Following him was Bill Guerin, one of the legends in the set.
Dylan Larkin came next...and appeared in my second pack as well. I know it's a small set at only 15 base cards, but a duplicate is still a bit disappointing.
Zach Werenski followed Larkin
And the final player card was another legend, Ed Olczyk
Although not counted as part of the pack, each pack I opened also included a checklist card, which is great. I love checklists.
Here's the back of the regular cards. The one thing I would have done differently was include the player's hometown. After all, the set is built around American hockey players, so it would have been nice info to include.
As an added bonus, here is the Auston Matthews bonus card that doesn't come in a pack. It is my first official hockey card of him, as he previously only appeared in my multi-sport collection. My first cards of Vesey and Werenski as well!

Now, here's pack two...minus the spare Larkin of course.
The New York Rangers led off again, with legend Brian Leetch
 Two straight Chicago BlackHawks came next with Patrick Kane and Tyler Motte

Last up was another retired legend, Mike Modano


Now, I went to the shop with the intention of buying another tin of 2015-16 Series 2, which I got one of last month and when I left they had 4 more on the shelves. They were gone, as was pretty much everything else. As I mentioned they sold most of the hockey in the store. But I did not come away empty handed. I have been a big fan of my local shop since I started going there in the year 2000. But the one bad thing is that they didn't do single cards...only boxes. That has now changed. I was able to add some singles to my NBA collection. Although I've been posting about hockey more than NBA recently, NBA is still #1 for me...I wasn't sure if these were all new or not, but I decided to take the chance on a couple I wasn't sure about, because I figured, even if not new, they were still serially numbered, and I've got a serious SN addiction. 

 I've been finding a lot of Araujo autographs for cheap recently, this is the third I've added for $5 or less in the last year.
 This is my second card from this relic set. The first one I got when I did a box when the set was new back in 2005.
 Today is also his birthday.
 This is one I wasn't sure if I needed or not.
 I've written about Dajuan Wagner before. Had great talent but poor health.
 I've always felt bad for Lampe. He was a player similar to Kristaps Porzingis, but he never got the chance to get on the court to show what he could do. He even wore #6 on the Knicks...Lampe was expected to be a lottery pick, but fell to the 30th pick in the draft...the New York fans actually cheered for him, he was there at the draft. (Highly ususual, the NY fans boo everybody). But...the Knicks, at that time, refused to play rookies. He sat on the bench without getting a chance to play. Not even a single game did the Knicks bother to play him. Then, he was traded to the Suns in the Penny Hardaway/Stephon Marbury trade. The Suns finally did play him...barely. He got into 37 games over two years for the Suns, before they traded him to the Hornets where he again mostly benchwarmed, before they traded him to the Rockets, who played him in a grand total 12 minutes over 4 games, before releasing him. He never played in the NBA again. We have no real clue what he could have accomplished because his coaches never bothered to find out. I've always felt bad for him, like I said. According to Wikipedia, he's playing in China now.
Finally we have TJ Ford from 2003-04 Ultra. I really liked this Ultra design, but I didn't like that the lottery picks were short printed. (Each of the Lucky 13 is SN500 on the back). I have most of them but I didn't know if I had this one, so I took the chance. Turns out I needed it! In fact, I only guessed wrong once, the only card I had before was the Jarvis Hayes from Sweet Shot. Not too bad considering.