The school bell signaled the end of the day and you lugged your backpack full of tatted up textbooks home over one shoulder cause that’s what the cool kids did. The quarters from Mom and Pops jiggled in your pocket as you furiously planned your corner store attack. You had two blocks to decide the appropriate ratio between five-cent candies and trading cards.
Sitting cross-legged opposite my brother in front of the TGIF television line-up, it was the most stressful part of our Friday nights. We had our poker faces poised because everything was on the line when making that big trade. NHL and MLB cards were the front-runners in my childhood, growing up in a family that floated between hockey rinks and baseball diamonds. You may have even had your own branded trading card, slugger! But the earliest NBA trading cards made a quick appearance in 1933.
In 1948 NBA cards made a comeback. One of the top ten most valuable sports cards in history is that of the NBA mark. The George Mikan 1948 rookie card is valued at $218,550. And with an NBA trading card hiatus through the early 80’s, the Michael Jordan ‘86/’87 ‘perfect 10’ rookie card was the comeback being sold at an auction for $100,000 in 2011.
Trading cards hold a combination of players pictures, stats and other trivia. One of the first Raptors trading cards was this ’95 Damon Stoudamire entry card. The witty wordplay on the back prompts a deserved chuckle.
As time goes on, the value of trading cards increase based on their condition, player popularity and the limited number of that card printed. And they’re still going strong, with lockout year Jonas Valanciunas rookie cards currently gaining attention.
After a tedious day at school you came home to more work, throwing on your GM cap and sitting on the floor surrounded by your current roster. The pressure was on you as you made your negotiations and transactions and dropped cookie crumbs on your autographed Christie.
And then you sat back and stared at the scene at your feet and your masterpiece may have looked something like this…