Sunday, February 7, 2016

NBA 20th Anniversary Countdown #8: 1997-98 Stadium Club

I know a lot of people go nuts for Stadium Club. While I wouldn't say I'm one of them, they had a couple a REALLY good years in the 1990s that rank among my set favorites.

#8: 1997-98 Stadium Club

Why I like it: The photography. Topps really stepped up the effort on photography for Stadium Club over the other brands they produced, and they stepped that effort up beginning with 1997-98. The cards also have an interesting coating on them that makes them feel slippery without being sticky or greasy feeling. Unfortunately the coating scratches easily.

Set size/Completion: 240, I have 209 of them, 87.1% according to the Database

Just look at that photo. Look at the depth of field. It looks like you are right there watching. And most of the set is like this! That would also be true of the 1998-99 set, which was under consideration but missed the cut for the Top 20. It was still there somewhat in 1999-00 and 2000-01, but by then mostly it was just another set; the depth and "you're right there" aspect gradually went away.

Although it doesn't really scan well, each card also featured a hologram Stadium Club logo. The blue box the player name appears in is also holofoil.

This set is unique in all of NBA history- series 1 was odd numbers, series 2 were even. Every other set that had more than one series was numbered in the usual manner of 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. Not here.

Card backs are mostly purple and blue. One thing I like, but was kind of blundered- the ranking in the stats. That's great but they blundered it...NR, not ranked, is unacceptable. And for full career they went only with active instead of all time, which is disappointing as well. And so much space was wasted on averages when a few more real stats could have been included. It was a great concept that was executed poorly.

This set was the first ever to include printing plates. (I don't have any). They would become a staple but at this time they were incredibly rare. There are also Members Only and the standard First Day Issue parallels, but they were hobby only, and most of my cards came from retail...I don't have any of them either.

Inserts included several multi-level sets, including Triumvirate and Bowman's Best Previews, which had basic, Refractor and Atomic Refractor versions.

 Bowman's Best Preview. Note for the veterans the background is different than Bowman's Best base cards.
 Bowman's Best Preview Atomic Refractor. The rookies in the Preview set look like the normal Bowman's Best Rookies.
 Hardcourt Heroics, this card's background is all hologram. My favorite insert in the set.
 HoopScreams, mirror foil.
Royal Court.
Hardwood Hopefuls, printed on clear plastic.

The inserts here are pretty good actually, but it's the base cards that once again are the main focus for me.

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