Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Elton Brand Career Retrospective

News I had been dreading, but feared was coming, broke yesterday, August 11th, 2015. Elton Brand announced his retirement from the NBA.

Based on how little he got to play the last several years, I suspected it was coming...but I still dreaded it.

As I've mentioned before, Elton is my all-time favorite player. He is a Hometown Hero, from Peekskill, NY, where my family is originally from. I began following him while he was still in high school, through his years at Duke and then into the NBA. I originally began following him because he was a local, but his character off the court and his playing ability on it locked him in as my #1 favorite player.

Unfortunately Elton suffered several serious injuries that robbed him of his quickness and more than a full season's worth of playing time; he missed almost two seasons at around the same time that I stopped paying as much attention to the sport- but when he came back, the games he played in were usually the only regular season games I was watching at that time (Although, as I have since stated, I now regret that).

As a long time card collector, I naturally have tried to get as many different Elton cards as I could- and I still do. As of right now, I have 408 NBA cards of him, 7 college cards, and three jerseys that I wear. I can't show all of them here on the blog- it would take days to do that- but I will provide a link to my website where all his NBA cards can be seen together in one place at the end. That does not include cards that he shares with anyone else, including league leaders and team cards...just cards of him.

Many years ago, I had somebody create this logo for me to use in my signature line on Trader Retreat, which was the premier card forum at that time. I don't remember who made it for me, but I uploaded it to my website on December 5th, 2005. I don't even know if TR still exists. I still use that email address, although I only check once a week or so.

Now, let's take a look at Elton's career, and some of my favorite Elton cards, beginning with his time in college:
1997-98 and 1998-99 Duke University.
Elton played two years of college ball for a combined total of 60 games. I generally do not collect college cards but for him I make an exception.
1999 Press Pass Autograph

1999 Press Pass Authentics Team 2000 #T1

Elton went #1 in the 1999 NBA Draft to the Chicago Bulls. He did not expect to go #1 but he parlayed it into co-Rookie of the Year honors with Steve Francis of the Rockets.
1999-00 Fleer Tradition Roundball Collection #203RB
Elton played 81 games during his rookie season, starting 80 of them, and it actually turned out to be his third best season in scoring, with 1627 points scored. Elton would play 81 games twice more during his career, he would never get the opportunity to play all 82 games.
1999-00 Hoops X #89

1999-00 EX E-Xceptional Red #14XC

1999-00 Hoops X New Style Parallel #4NS SN 0488/1989

48 different cards of Elton from 1999-00 reside in my collection.

2000-01 was his second and final year with the Bulls, and with 80 different cards in my collection, the largest year for Eltons. It was the season I got my first autograph of him during, and he also got the #1 slot in several Topps sets, which is prestigious.
2000-01 Bowman's Best Flashback Rookie Locker Room Autographs #LRCF

2000-01 Fleer Triple Crown #137

2000-01 Stadium Club #80

2000-01 Topps #1

During the off-season between 2000-01 and 2001-02, Elton was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers for Tyson Chandler and Brian Skinner. It was the only time Elton was traded during his career, and the Los Angeles Clippers became his home for the next seven seasons. Elton reached his peak during this time frame, unfortunately the Clippers' owner was a famously bad person, and also famously poor at team management. The Clippers were the butt of many jokes throughout the years, but Elton's star shined brightly and he became, I believe, the first Los Angeles Clipper player to ever receive MVP votes.

Elton had a great year in 2001-02, and made his first All-Star Game that season. My collection of him dips slightly in 2001-02, coming in at 51 cards.
2001-02 Fleer Authentix #5

2001-02 Fleer Focus Trading Places jersey

2001-02 Fleer Marquee We're #1. This was my first Elton patch card, and it comes from the time before they treated patches specially.

2001-02 Stadium Club Lone Star Signatures
2002-03 was the first year Elton missed significant time with injury, playing in only 62 of 82 games. However, it is when my card collection began to grow the most, between 2002 and 2005, and my Elton collection for 02-03 rebounds to 64 cards.
2002-03 Fleer Tradition #187

2002-03 MVP #72

2002-03 Topps Chrome White Refractor #44 SN115/249
2003-04 saw Elton rebound slightly to play in 69 games. Totally coincidentally, that is also the amount of cards I have for him from the season. My two lowest serially numbered Eltons come from this season, SN1 and SN7.
2003-04 Bowman Signature #16 Red - One of One!

2003-04 EX Essential Credentials Now #7

2003-04 SP Game Used Authentic Patches. Taken from the L in Clippers.

In 2004-05, I started to trail off a little in cards, and my Elton collection is only 34 cards from that year. Elton rebounded to play in 81 games.
2004-05 Bazooka #42

2004-05 Fleer Throwbacks Hardwood Classics. My only NBA Logoman, albeit taken from the tag. Fine with me!

2004-05 Luxury Box Main Reserved #56 SN 22/25

2004-05 Upper Deck #76. San Diego Clippers throwback jersey.
2005-06 was Elton's best year. He only played in 79 games, but he played the most minutes (3099), scored the most points in his career (1953), put up his highest totals in field goals made, attempted, (both regular and free throws), blocks, and he even made a three pointer for the first time in his career. (He only made two- one in 2005-06 and one in 2006-07- he only attempted 20 his entire career, and most of them were desperation shots at the end of the shot clock/buzzer). He also made his second All-Star Game and if memory serves me correctly he finished third in MVP voting.
I really start to trail off this year, I only have 22 different cards of him, and most of them came much later- as in, 2015.
2005-06 Bazooka Gold #86. The blue alternate jersey was always a favorite of mine. I actually got to see this game. In the days before League Pass I only got to see Elton a couple of times a year, when he would play the Knicks and Nets...or the Clippers got a rare Nationally televised game.

2005-06 SP Game Used Authentic Fabrics.

2004-05 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Ultimate Signatures
2006-07 was the year where I thought I was done collecting NBA cards. I was not overly happy with what was being produced, or the way the game was being played. I realize now it was me, but I took a break between late 2006-2012. I only have 8 Eltons from the year, and I only got three of them when they were new. This was Elton's second best year, as he put up his second highest point total, minutes played, baskets scored, assists and blocks.
2006-07 Bowman #9. Between 2006 and 2011 I believed this would be the last Elton card I would ever get. That has of course since changed.

2006-07 Bowman Elevation #2. This card was damaged in the flood of 2/5/15.

2006-07 Ultra #63

2007-08 was Elton's last year with the Clippers, and it was not a good year at all. Injuries limited him to only 8 games. He still played great when he could, but he couldn't for most of the season.
I only have 5 cards of him from 2007-08, one of which I just got 2 days ago. (You can see it in my 2015 Elton Brand chart up above)
2007-08 SP Game Used #118

2007-08 Topps #10
In 2008-09 Elton joined the Philadelphia 76ers as a free agent. However, he was limited to only 29 games due to injury. I did not get to see him play at all for the second year in a row, I believe. I have only two cards of him from 2008-09, only one of which shows him in the Sixers uniform.
2008-09 Topps T-51 Murad #1
2009-10 saw Elton bounce back, playing 76 games. I have 6 cards of him from that season, all of which I've gotten in the last two years. 2009-10 was also when the NBA took the license away from Topps and Upper Deck and gave it exclusively to Panini, a huge mistake.
2009-10 Absolute Memorabilia Tools of the Trade Prime #TOTT9 SN 01/25. The patch is from either the B or R on the back of his jersey.

2009-10 Panini Crown Royale #14

2009-10 Upper Deck #146. I am not sure when this image was taken. I suspect it was taken during 08-09, and that these jerseys were dropped after that season. UD usually used photos taken the previous season, and I know from some of the rookie cards I have that they did not use current season photos. I know I never saw Elton play in this jersey.
2010-11 was when I started to watch again, during the playoffs mostly. It was Elton's rebound season, which saw him play 81 games, set his career high in steals, and put up 1000+ points and 100+ blocks for the 9th and final times during his career. I again have 6 cards of him, all of which I got after the fact.
2009-10 Absolute Memorabilia Spectrum #74

2010-11 Prestige Bonus Shots Black #90 SN 3/10

2010-11 Rookies & Stars Longevity #12- the first Elton I got in 2015
2011-12 was the second lockout, which shortened the NBA season to 66 games instead of the usual 82. It was Elton's last season with the 76ers, and although his stats were down due to only playing 60 of those 66 games, it was still a good season. Then, at the end of it, the Sixers waived him due to the salary cap shenanigans that resulted from the lockout. The Sixers have been tanking ever since. Due to the Lockout, Panini only produced a handfull of sets, and I only have one Elton from the entire season- and it's a set I have only one card from as well. I did a box of 2011-12 Hoops but was not lucky enough to pull Elton's card from it.
2011-12 Gold Standard #101
In 2012-13, Elton signed with the Dallas Mavericks, and while he did play in 72 games, his minutes dropped dramatically- for the first time, he didn't have to be THE go-to guy on the team. It was the last year Panini truly included him in card sets. I have 11 cards of him on the year, 7 of them I actually got during the 2012-13 season.
2012-13 Absolute Basketball Spectrum Silver #9 SN 2-10. This was the first set released to show Elton in a Mavs jersey.

2012-13 Panini #56

2012-13 Panini Brilliance Game Time Jerseys Prime #47. The entire card is mirror foil so it does not scan all that well. There are also two layers of white in the patch.

2012-13 National Treasures Material Treasures #40. This is the only card I have from this brand, not just this set. They have done National Treasures for several years but they are too pricey for me, and had I not gotten this card as a gift the entire National Treasures brand would be missing from my collection. Note that in this caption by brand I am not referring to Elton Brand.
In 2013-14 Elton joined the Atlanta Hawks and it was the beginning of the end. He suffered through 57 DNP-Coach's Decision over his two years with the team, although only 9 of them came during 2013-14. Panini stopped doing their job as well, and only issued ONE card of Elton (with 6 parallels) during his entire 2-year stay with the Hawks. Disgraceful. And, to be honest, a large reason why I have not gotten as many cards as I normally do during 2014-15. They can't be bothered to do it right, why should I spend what little money I have on something that they get so wrong repeatedly? In 2013-14 Elton only played 36 games, and scored only 96 points for the entire season. He actually scored more points in 2007-08 when he only played 8 games due to injury. The majority of his time on court during 2014-15 was at the very end of quarters when they just wanted to waste time. I watched every single Hawks game on League Pass during the two seasons he was with them; it was a wholly frustrating experience for me. During 2014-15 Elton wore #7. It was the only time in his career he did not wear #42.
2013-14 Pinnacle #131. The only card issued of Elton as a member of the Atlanta Hawks.

All in all, Elton played in 1041 NBA games, starting 867 of them. He scored 16,757 points, 8977 rebounds, 2166 assists, 931 steals and 1820 blocks.
In a league that has had over 3000 players play in an NBA game, he ranks in the top 100 of several categories: 94th all time in games played, 89th in scoring, 20th in blocks, 49th in rebounding, 70th in career minutes played, and that's not even getting into the PER stuff.
He also led the league in offensive rebounds twice.

Off the court he runs several charitable organizations. I know of at least two, but there may be more. I have no way to research them to provide more info.

If you would like to see All of my NBA cards of Elton. I have a special album for the on my website, which you can look at Here. My copy of his 2002-03 Topps base card has gone missing so it is not present in the album.

I also have three jerseys I wear, which I will show. I would have a Hawks jersey too but they don't make it big enough.
Clippers red, from 2002-03 season. This is one where it's just painted on and it's cracking so I don't wear this one too often.
Clippers Blue Alternate, also from 2002-03. This is an official jersey, where everything is sewn on. This is the jersey I wear the most. It was, for many years, also the only one I had a photo of myself wearing. I was going to share the photo but I can't find it now.

1971-72 Buffalo Braves throwback. I am not sure if the Clippers ever actually wore this as a throwback, but I found it for sale at retail and had to have it.


  1. Quite the collection my friend. That Buffalo Braves throwback is really cool!

  2. Excellent tribute to a really heck of a nice guy. You have a great collection of Elton stuff!

  3. Great collection. Love the Braves throwback

  4. Thanks for the comments! I just realized I forgot to reply, duh on my part!

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