Tuesday, January 26, 2016

NBA 20th Anniversary Countdown #20: 2002-03 Topps 10

It's hard for me to believe, but February 14th, 2016 marks my 20th anniversary as an NBA fan! For many years I thought that it was the last day of the 1995-96 NBA season when I discovered the sport, but thanks to the statistics available on NBA.com and basketball-reference.com I determined that it was, in fact, February 14th, 1996 instead.

I've been trying to decide what I wanted to do to celebrate, and most of the ideas required spending more money than I have to spend on the hobby. (IE, open a case, something I've always wanted to do, attend a game- even the Westchester Knicks in the D-League are too expensive). But I came upon the idea that I would do a countdown of my 20 favorite sets...and tell you why they are my favorites as well.

Not only that...I'm going to post one set a day, every day, from now until the 14th, with my favorite set being revealed on the actual 20th anniversary! Figuring out the order of the top 4 was easy. Fifth through 13th was hard to figure out. There are a lot of great sets in there and I knew they would be in the top 20 but the exact order was not particularly easy. 14 to 20 were harder to determine. There were several sets that I really like a lot that didn't make the cut...some of them that missed it, and some that made it, truly surprised me. The ones that didn't make it surprised me the most, because I know which sets I favor, but I had never ranked them before. As you see me reveal the countdown each day, you'll notice some themes that I will point out at the end, unless they are commented on beforehand.

Now...on to the countdown!

#20: 2002-03 Topps 10

Why I like it: The concept of the set. Of my top 20 this is my least favorite design, but the concept of the set is so strong, it puts it into the top 20, albeit 20th.

Set size/Completion: 150 cards, I have the complete set.
The concept of the 2002-03 Topps 10 set was multiple subsets highlighting the top 10 leaders in various statistical categories, and the top 10 draft picks in each position to make sure that rookies got into the set. This is the concept that makes the set work for me. A big part of card collecting for me is documenting the history of the sport, and most sets fall well short of that. In this case, that's ALL the set is. The design is fairly poor, with a lot of unused white space. Each category got it's own theme color, which also transitions to the back.
The back of each card is mostly a list of the leaders in that statistical category that card is from.

There was not much in the way of inserts for the set. Each card had a gold parallel, which was thicker- something Topps did with the parallels often at the time- and there was a partial parallel where the number rank is replaced with a relic piece. There is also an autograph set and a Team Leaders insert which looks very similar to the base card but is a relic set.

I completed the set on January 9th, 2003, which is shortly after the set was released. I may have even completed it from a single box, but I don't remember anymore.
  • 20. 2002-03 Topps 10


  1. I'm kind of surprised that this made the top 20....they do seem kind of bland compared to some of the other stuff you have. I can't wait to see the rest.

    1. It's by far the worst design in the Top 20. But the the concept of the set is so good it alone actually makes it #20. I can think of a couple of dozen sets with better designs...including several from the same season!

  2. Minimalism was "it" in the early 2000s. Now it is a mixture of minimalism and baroque/classicism. I like how trends in design reflect on cards. Remember those early 3D graphics of the 90s, or the marble like pattern that was used for 1992-1994 Fleer Ultra. Those patterns were huge at the time with business cards. I actually want my small collection to reflect these trends, and technologies that are used to make basketball cards. P. S. I am a graphic designer.

    1. I still like the early 90s designs the best. To me the best is still holograms, I'm a sucker for holograms, lol.