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Bob D’Angelo

Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia. He blogs for on both subjects, transferring his work for the Tampa Tribune to the realm of cyberspace.

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Collect call: 2013-14 Panini NBA Hoops

Posted Oct 28, 2013 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Oct 28, 2013 at 11:34 PM

I opened a hobby box of Panini America’s 2013-14 NBA Hoops and showed one of the jumbo packs to a colleague. There are 50 cards per pack, and 10 packs per hobby box, so I was curious to see what my colleague would say about this basketball card set.

“It looks like a pack of cigarettes,” he observed.

Perhaps. But these packs are much healthier. And the only smoke one might find is the smoky-looking effect used in designing the 25-card Dreams insert.

NBA Hoops is a low-end product that is geared toward set builders. You might think that with a 300-card base set (and an additional special short-printed card No. 301 commemorating the Miami Heat’s NBA title), that 10 jumbo packs would be enough. That’s not the case, however. The box I opened yielded 277 base cards. While that might appear to be a negative, it’s important to note that half of a jumbo back is devoted to inserts , parallels (and in some cases) autograph and memorabilia cards.

So while I was disappointed that I could not complete the set, I did make good headway toward completing the inserts. Each pack had between 25 to 30 commons. There were five gold parallels per pack, along with three red back parallels.

The design for the NBA Hoops base cards is vertical, with standard action shots of veteran players. Rookie cards tend to have more of a giant mug shot.  The backs of the cards won’t inspire, since they are black on white. To be honest, the red back parallel cards (which come three to a pack), made for a much livelier-looking card. The color certainly adds to the overall look.

Also included in the box was a pair of Artist’s Proof parallels. The difference between these cards and the main set was the gold foil stamped at the bottom of the card, plus the “Artist’s Proof” stamping.

Panini promises two autographs and one memorabilia card per box. And right off the bat, I pulled an autograph. The first pack contained an on-sticker signature of Mavericks guard Greg Buckner. In the seventh pack, I found a rookie autograph card of Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroeder, also a sticker signature.

The relic was an Authentics swatch card of Miami’s LeBron James. The card is thick and the game-worn material is generously applied. It’s also the first time NBA Hoops has used a relic card in its set.

I really enjoyed some of the names for the inserts. Class Action pays tribute to stars and the year they were drafted into the league. Board Members focuses on the league’s top rebounders. Action Shots depicts what you might expect, players taking shots.

The insert set I enjoyed the most was the Hall of Fame Heroes. Not only did I pull 22 of the 25 cards in the subset, I also got to enjoy the black-and-white main photo of the star, plus a smaller color action shot on the left-hand side of the card. It makes for a nice contrast. And even though the bright orange-and-white border reminds me of those Bob’s Barricades cones one encounters when driving through a construction area, the contrast appears to work.

Board Members, Action Shots and Courtside all rely on horizontal layouts. Courtside doesn’t seem to work, although the concept is to give the collector a point of view from under the basket. The wide-angle shots are OK, but at times they appear too distant. Board Members, with its above-the-net perspective, works much better.

The box I opened gave me a large majority of all three of those 25-card inserts: 20 of 25 Board Members, 19 of 25 Action Shots and 21 of 25 Courtside.

With a price tag under $100 at several Internet outlets, NBA Hoops provides a solid, large set that will satisfy the set-builder, and a large variety of inserts that will offer a good challenge.

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