Thursday, October 20, 2016

WNBA 20th Anniversary

Later tonight the WNBA will crown it's champion for the 20th anniversary season. I never got into the WNBA for what may be a stupid reason (more below) and I never really collected WNBA cards, but I felt it was important enough to make a post about- what is, to my knowledge, the first solely WNBA card blog post ever.

I remember when the WNBA was announced. It was nothing short of revolutionary. While professional sports leagues for women was not a wholly new concept, one with the major backing this received was unheard of. The WNBA has had a constant TV presence from day 1, cards on a regular basis, media coverage, etc. It was instantly seen as a legitimate sports league. And it was successful. It still is.

But I've only ever watched two games of it, despite my love for basketball can I put this without seeming creepy...fondness for the female form.

The whole concept lost me when they announced the team names. Instead of being their own, separate things, with their own identity, they were mostly all knockoffs of NBA team names. At least that's what I felt like it was when I was 13 and the league was forming up. It's a notion that I can't seem to shake even though I later found out almost if not every team is owned and operated by the NBA teams that I felt they were knocking off. Once the credibility was lost, it never could get it back...and every time I hear one of the "knockoff" names it grates on me like fingernails on a chalkboard.

I know it's me, and it's probably a rather stupid reason not to watch...but that's what it is.  I know I'm doing a disservice to myself, as seeing the same players in the Olympics is fun to watch- they really put on a great show- and I KNOW I'm doing a disservice to the athletes by not giving them the time of day. I can't change who I am, though, and now this far into it, I'm almost afraid to start watching because....I'm afraid I'll like it and regret the missed opportunities of watching and collecting all these years. Gotta admit, actually typing it out makes it sound really rather stupid, to be honest.

It's success has led to other successes as well...there's now a Women's Professional Hockey League, which debuted in the 2015-16 season, and there is a women's professional soccer league, though I don't know the name of it as soccer really doesn't hold my interest. Could either of these leagues have come into being without the WNBA's success? Probably...but I'm sure it didn't hurt to have the WNBA pave the way and show that women's professional sports can succeed and be popular.

The WNBA has been getting cards since day one, although I have only a handful of the sets in my collection- every single one of them arrived in my collection via the mixed boxes I prefer to build my collection with. Rittenhouse Archives has had the WNBA license for several years but I don't have a single card of any of their issues in my collection. Rittenhouse generally does non-sports cards but have ventured into sports with the WNBA, and they also had the Indycar license for several years- none of those appear in my collection (yet) either, though one day they will.

These are the WNBA sets in my collection:
1998 Pinnacle: I believe this was the first WNBA set. It was the only professional basketball set Pinnacle produced under it's own aegis, the brand made one appearance in the NBA under the Panini ownership in 2013-14. This design is totally unique- every other WNBA set in my collection uses the same basic design as the NBA set of the same name/year. I have 7 of the cards in my collection.
1999 Ultra uses the NBA's 1998-99 design. (I believe all Ultra issues across sports used the same design- ironically, something I actually like. Go figure!) This is the largest represented WNBA set in my collection, with 20 base, 3 parallel and 2 inserts in my collection.

1999 Hoops uses the NBA's 1998-99 Hoops design. It's not a favorite design of mine, but it gets the job done. This is my only card from the set, and was the first WNBA card I scanned, in 2010. I have misplaced the actual card and it's the only one I don't have in my small WNBA snaplock case.
2000 Ultra uses the front of the 1999-00 Ultra NBA set, but the back is unique. Design wise this is my favorite of the three Ultra WNBA sets in my collection, but this is the only card I have from the set. The real card has holofoil, but my second scanner put pinkish purple lines across holofoils...which shortly led to scanner #3.
2002 Fleer Authentix utilized the 2001-02 Authentix design from the NBA, a design which I thought was great when it was new...not so much now. My scanner #2 really didn't like these, so some day I will rescan them with scanner #4, which I got earlier in 2016. For now, they have a scan, so I am concentrating on cards that have yet to have any scan, even a poor one, made. The real card does not have the crosshatching you see but bright solid colors. I have 8 of these cards in my collection. I picked the best scan, but you can see the problem if you blow up the image, especially in her shadow.
 2002 Ultra is the most recent WNBA set in my collection, and the second largest with 13 base and 2 parallel cards in my collection. It uses the 2001-02 Ultra design from the NBA, which is not my favorite Ultra design by any may recall that Ultra is/was my favorite card brand.
Scanner #3 didn't like them, either.

I could swear I had a card or two that utilized the 2000-01 Ultra NBA design, but they don't appear in my files or on my website so it's possible they are missing somewhere, waiting to appear in a Lost & Found post.

Although my WNBA collection ends in 2002, some of the newer players DO appear in my collection. Topps has produced two Olympic sets, for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and both of them included WNBA players, even if their jerseys were "photoshopped" to be totally blank.

WNBA players also appear fairly regularly in the Sports Illustrated For Kids cards, which I have been getting again since mid-2015. They appear in their actual uniforms in these cards as well, a big plus.
I keep count in a very compartmentalized fashion, and the above three cards count not as part of WNBA collection but as my Olympic and Multi-Sport collections, respectively. (I'm still working on an overall count, but it's coming)

And finally, one can't write an overview of WNBA cards without including this final set. It's not a WNBA set, but it IS made of up future WNBA players and in fact was the first set to include WNBA players and no one from any other league or sport. It's the 1996 Topps USA Women's Basketball Team, which I purchased two packs of when the set was new.
The Olympic Women's Basketball team also appears in 1994 Flair USA, 1994 Upper Deck USA, 1996 Upper Deck USA and 1999-00 Stadium Club, the latter an otherwise all-NBA set.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Definitely the first WNBA blog post I've seen and long overdue. I still remember the formation of the league, somewhat vividly, as it was the first year my family had a video camera and it was often on in the background. By the way, if you ever end up with an Allie Quigley of the Chicago Sky, I'd gladly trade you. She's a local product and the sister of one of my college classmates. Anyway, nice post!

    1. That's pretty cool! She's not in my collection but you never know when some more cards will pop up

  2. Why the heck would they make the jerseys blank? Doesn't seem like a good idea to me. You actually do have a pretty good collection, all things considered.

    1. Topps doesn't have the license for them so they do that.

  3. I think I've posted about WNBA cards before, but never as one entire post dedicated to them. I have a few of most of these sets you've shown, and like you have none of the Rittenhouse. My biggest reason for that is I think they only sell them as complete sets and don't have the cash or care enough to get them. Pinnacle released a set in 1997 though, but I don't think I have any of those.

    I don't watch much anymore, but I would if I had more chances to see it.

    The names never bothered me, but the league still seemed (and still does) like a minor league sport, despite all the advertising the put into it when it first debuted. I wish the women would get paid better and hope it starts getting more fans and viewers, but it might be a while before I watch again. I didn't even know the Comets folded until recently.

    1. I have mentioned them before as well - WNBA was an existing tag- but this is the first post I made just for them. I can barely afford blasters right now so a complete factory set for something I don't have an obsession with is not too likely. I would not mind picking up a card of Elena Delle Donne in her actual uniform... perhaps on COMC. Aside from the two teams battling for the title i could not tell you who was in the league right now...but I could probably not tell you that for the MLB, NFL or NHL either.

  4. I'm not a basketball fan, but if I were to watch basketball I'd rather watch women play. I just prefer the style of play to any men's basketball game I've seen... Seems like more of a team sport to me.

    I picked up a couple of WNBA cards last weekend, mainly because they were in a dimebox and I rarely see WNBA cards in the wild. I'll make sure to get them in an upcoming dimebox post.

    I agree with you about the team names. I thought it was a questionable marketing strategy because it positioned them as something of a minor league affiliate rather than a Major league in a separate category... Just a step above "Lakerettes" or "Jazz Ladies".

    1. Seeing the cards for sale anywhere us pretty rare, I don't think I ever saw them at shows when we used to have them. The NBA has gotten much better on the team aspect recently. It git kind of out if control in the mid 2000s, like the players were trying to get on SportsCenter more than okay actual basketball. It's one if the reasons I took a break from the NBA from 2006-12. It's been much better since I came back to it though. I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt the team names hurt the credibility!

  5. I have written a couple of posts about WNBA, even creating a custom card of Brittney Griner in a Dallas Mavs uniform (Mark Cuban stated he had considered using a 2nd Round draft pick on her in 2013).

    I don't collect most WNBA cards but Sue Bird is one of my mini-PCs so if you happen to have any of her cards I would be happy to see if we can work a trade.

    1. Oh, I missed those posts. Cuban talking about drafting her was before I knew card blogs existed .got a link? I would like to see your custom. Sue Bird does not appear in my collection

  6. I was interested in the WNBA when it was organized, with the Houston Comets as my favorite team. I collected most of the 1999 Hoops WNBA set; I think I was only missing a couple of cards. I stopped collecting around 2000, and have never really revisited the WNBA much, except to look at the price tag on the Rittenhouse sets and decide to pass on them. I was a little sad when the Comets went away.

    1. I honestly didn't know they did until the comments on this post. You don't see professional sports teams fold much in this day and age.