Sunday, January 31, 2016

NBA 20th Anniversary Countdown #15: 1996-97 SP

Behold the power of holograms!

#15: 1996-97 SP

Why I like it: Like 1992-93 Ultra, and many of the sets yet to come, it's the design. It was basically a toss-up which would rank #15 and which would be #16, and this set got the nod over 1975-76 Topps for the sole reason that I have memories of this set being new, whereas the Topps set was issued almost a decade before I was born.

Set size/Completion: 146 cards, I have 141 of them, or 96.6% according to the Trading Card Database.

This is one of those rare non-foil/finest sets that you really can't capture in a scan. Each and every card is printed over the top of the SP hologram pattern seen at left, and in hand you can see that shining through the photo and the black bar at right. It doesn't really show in scans, although you can sort of see it in the team name at right. The first 126 cards in the set- the veterans- are done on this design.

SP, as a brand, made it's debut in 1994-95 (although one could argue that the 1993-94 Special Edition set was really the birth of it) and went until 2008-09, when the NBA pulled the license from Upper Deck. SP and later, SP Authentic (the name was changed for the 1997-98 release) is not a favorite brand of mine. (it later came back as a college release but those don't count). Most of the SP Authentic sets had the photos edited down so it was just the player and a white or close to white background. Not something I enjoy. This is the only SP set that makes my Top 20...and I could probably do a top 40 without finding another SP/SP Authentic set. But this one...this one I love.

Here's what the rookie cards look like. It would have been better if they looked like the veterans.
Here's a base card back:
Inserts for the set were actually interesting. In the 1990s the inserts usually were.

Game film...these were the big deal when the set was new. I pulled this one.
These are REALLY hard to scan. Game film would appear in 2001-02 SP Authentic as well.

Inside Info. Available in regular (silver) and gold foil. This one is gold...
Why is it called "Inside Info" you ask?
Because you can pull out a smaller card permanently attached to the larger one!

Premium Collection Holoview made it's third and final appearance. The hologram was smaller than ever.
This would be the last SP set to NOT include autographs.


  1. Premium Collection Holoview or simply Holoviews as Beckett calls it is probably my all time favorite insert set. I am a sucker for holograms, the typography is excellent and most of the cards have cool action shots, and the traditional rectengular design appeals to my conservative side. I think they discontinued the set in SP, because of SPx.

    1. Me too! I love holograms. Always have, always will, I think. I planned to do a Top 20 insert design countdown but never got around to it. I should work on that, there's so many great ones though, picking 20 will be tough.