Wednesday, February 10, 2016

NBA 20th Anniversary Countdown #5: 1996-97 Fleer

This set was something that could open happen once, with no chance to have happen again!

#6: 1996-97 Fleer

Why I like it: The design is great, but the memories are even better. This was the first set of my first full season, something that could never be changed or duplicated!

Set size/Completion: 300, I have 257, 85.7%. That's actually pretty low for a top 5 favorite set.

The memories of this was an experience that I could only possibly have once. When I discovered the sport in February 1996, the 1995-96 season was already well under way- roughly half over already. Most of the sets of the year were either already out, or I was so new to the hobby that I was not cognizant of the fact that they were new. (The first set I remember being released was the last set of 1995-96, but it's not in the countdown- although it does have some great memories for me). But when this same came out, in late was the first set of a brand new season. My first full season! It was the only time I could ever experience the thrill of a new season beginning for the first time. And what a season it was! 1996-97 was by far the best season of NBA basketball cards. You've already seen the 1996-97 cards pop up in this countdown of my top 20 favorite sets more than once...and this Fleer flagship is not the last one in the countdown. There is not a single set from the season I dislike, with the exception of Hoops Series 2- although to be honest I mostly just dislike that one because it's so much inferior to series 1. (had the 2nd series looked like the 1st, 1996-97 Hoops would have been 5th, not this set- instead it's not in the top 20 at all!) 1996-97 was also the NBA's 50th Anniversary, and the celebrations surrounding that were incredible. To this day my favorite event in NBA history was the 1996-97 All-Star game when all 49 surviving members of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players list were there together. It's an event that can not ever be repeated as now several more have passed away, unfortunately. At some point I will do a series profiling the 50 Greatest Players but like so many of the ideas I have it needs to wait until I do more scanning.

Each card had a team-coded splash of color, somewhat simulating a basketball design, behind the player's name and team. The player's first name and the team name are in gold foil, as is the Fleer 1996-97 logo, and, where applicable, the Rookie logo.

Backs carried over the basketball theme in team colors, and had stats. On players who had not yet had a long career, that led to a lot of unused space, but for some players who had been in the league a long time already, the space was filled.

There were no parallels to the set, the last Fleer flagship- weather it was called Fleer, Fleer Tradition or, in 2001-02, Fleer Platinum- to not have any parallels. There were 12 inserts with Lucky 13 being the rarest.

 Franchise Future is my favorite insert from the set. The player, player's name and Franchise Future name is embossed, while the background is a combination of etched and colored mirror foil. I do not like mirror foil, but for this set it works. It looks a LOT better in person.
 Game Breakers is printed on clear plastic. The white area in the jagged "break" is clear plastic.
 Stackhouse's Scrapbook continued from 1995-96 Fleer releases, including continuing the same number system.
 Swing Shift.

 Thrill Seekers was a rare insert, printed on lenticular technology.
Towers of Power was, I believe, retail exclusive. Being etched foil, it looks better in person.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't realize so much happened that year! I'm surprised this isn't your number one choice.