Friday, February 12, 2016

NBA 20th Anniversary Countdown #3

For the top 3, I'm not listing the set in the title.

This set has so many great memories for me, so many that even though it doesn't fit into what I normally like, it still propels it to #3 in my all time favorite sets.

#3: 1996-97 Metal

Why I like it: The memories. For a set that is mostly foil and mostly a player superimposed over a computer generated background, it's the best of that kind ever. But it's mostly the memories.

Set size/Completion: 250 cards, and I completed it on April 8th, 2014.

The memories for this set are some of the best I have in the hobby. In 1996-97, I was in the 6th grade and I was very, very sick. I've never really recovered 100%, I've never really felt "good" since that time. It also was a very big contributor to my lifelong distrust of doctors. So many visits, so many tests, it was not a good time. And the worst is, they never figured out what the problem was. It remains unsolved to this day. All that crap I went through was for nothing. The only good thing- and I mean that literally- was that my doctor's office was right across the street from the card shop, and most doctor's visits led to card shop visits as well, except the days where he was closed or I wasn't feeling good enough to go in and get some cards.

So where do the good memories come from? Well, they come from this set. My mom purchased a box of series 1 and every day I was able to get to school and make it through the day, she gave me a pack out of the box. Let me tell you, the thought of getting the pack of this set is the only thing that got me through some of those rough days. Back then, I was a little more awed by "shiny", I had not really realized yet how much I appreciated the use of real, unedited photos. By the time I did, the happiness this set brought me was already cemented in place. That's one of my best memories in nearly 30 years in the hobby (I collected cards for 8 years before I began collecting the NBA)

There's one other memory that bears mentioning as well. After the box of Series 1 was done, I was missing one base card- #1, Mookie Blaylock. I was unable to find that card for years. Several years later, I believe 1999 but I don't know for sure, we were at a card show at the Dutchess Mall, in Fishkill, NY. I believe it may have been the last show there, but I can't recall. A dealer had a copy of this set in his display case, and right on the top of the case was that missing #1 card. I remember asking if he had any more of the set, explaining why I was looking for that one card. He didn't, but he broke the complete set and gave it to me. I never met him before, and I never saw him since. I don't know his name or if he is still around. But it made a big impression on me! Hopefully he is still active in the hobby and reads this and remembers that. It made a huge impression on me and I am still very grateful to this day.
Here is that very card.

I believe my first Kobe Bryant card came from this set, as well. One thing I always think about when a new season starts, and all the new rookies make their way into my collection, is which of them will end up having long careers and end up being on lots of cards. Will any of them make it eventually to the top 10 in my collection? I don't think I thought about that in 1996 but I do now. Today Kobe is ranked third in my collection according to the Database, with more than 600 different cards. I keep my count differently- the Database assigns team cards, league leaders, multi-subject cards etc. to each person, where I don't- I keep track of them by team, by how many people appear on a card, and league leaders gets it's own count, for example. I also don't count college, multi-sport or other knockoffs as part of my NBA collection. So I surely do not have the 610 Kobe cards the Database shows I do as part of my collection...but it's still a lot. I won't know exactly how many I have of each person until I finish scanning and I don't see that happening until 2021 or later.
Eventually I began keeping track of the first card I got of each person, but I would not begin doing that until circa 2000, and a lot of those records were lost when my floppy disk crashed that I've talked about several times.

With the back of the card you can really see how the names were embossed; it actually shows better on the card back scans that it does on the front. It makes the set almost impossible to stack but it does look good.

There were 12 inserts and 1 partial parallel. Most of the inserts fell one per box. I don't have all of them. The inserts all featured some sort of metal theme.

 Freshly Forged
 Maximum Metal. This is a two-layered card. The image of the player and the background, green here but various based on team- is one layer with a circular diecut opening which shows the steel-plate printed ball design in the background.
 Metal Decade- there were also cards issued in Fleer and Ultra. Fleer's set, which I didn't show because I have not scanned any yet, was called "Decade of Excellence". It was continued in 1997-98 reprising the 1987-88 set, but only in the flagship Fleer, Ultra and Metal's sets were 1996-97 only.
 Metal Edge
 Molten Metal- the player image is mirror foil and doesn't scan
 Net Rageous, a die cut cart
 Pick Up Game, a multi-set release
 Power Tools
 Precious Metal. The only parallel, issued only in Series 2. Note the lack of color to the left of the player. These were 1 per box, and this is the only one I got. Unfortunately after I scanned it, it fell and one of the corners was damaged.
Steel Slammin' The player and the set name were embossed.

Some day, I want to complete all the inserts. Completing the parallel would likely not be possible but the inserts might be.

Because the scans don't really capture the cards well, here is an actual photo.


  1. I had forgotten all about that incident with Mookie! What a nice guy he was at the mall.

  2. That was pretty great of that guy to break his set for you. And I am right there with you as far as not trusting doctors goes, there seems to be a lot of incompetence among their kind. Sorry to read about your Hubert Davis, I have dropped more cards than I would like to remember and they always land corner first.