Upper Deck, Topps' Stadium Club weigh in with basketball cards


For basketball fans of upmarket cards, two of the possibilities are Upper Deck and the first basketball edition of Topps' Stadium Club.

Upper Deck, with 310 cards in its first series, has a more ambitious and interesting offering.

There's a nine-card tribute to Wilt Chamberlain, the second installment of the continuing heroes series, and a 20-card insert series called Jerry West Selects in which the Hall of Famer selects the top players in 10 skills -- 10 at the top of the game and 10 stars of the future. This year's stat box uses the NBA logo as background. There's a card devoted to the retirements of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.

The 20-card draft subset is borderless and has a mix of draft-day photos (suits and baseball-style caps), college action and preseason action. There's also a card collectors can redeem for a Shaquille O'Neal card. The trade-in card is also collectible, with an asking price of $12 at some West Coast shows.

Look for O'Neal in packs of the second series (card No. 1) and new, unnamed players on cards 32 and 33. Johnson's and Bird's cards are numbered 32a and 33a.

Upper Deck got its draft picks up to date (Don MacLean on the Washington Bullets) but was content to update its regular cards with a "traded to" line on the front (see Charles Barkley, Olden Polynice and Gerard Wilkins, among others) even though the trades took place around the time of the draft.

Stadium Club joins the NBA with a 200-card first series that resembles all the other Stadium Clubs.

Topps hasn't had an NBA issue since 1981-82, but that's not stopping it from continuing its Stadium Club tradition of reproducing rookie cards.

It's true to show Bird's Topps rookie card from 1980-81 (he shares it with Johnson and Julius Erving) but ludicrous to call Isiah Thomas' Stadium Club his rookie card. That honor belongs to the 1986-87 Fleer.

PrimeTime errors

In its PrimeTime set, SkyBox has five unused numbers because five numbers were used twice. Corrected cards will not be issued. Sean Lumpkin (who should be No. 216) and Shane Collins share No. 002. Eric Metcalf (who should be No. 61) and the Lions/Broncos checklist share No. 350. James Francis (really No. 38) and the Dolphins/Vikings checklist are numbered 354. John Fina (who should be No. 267) and the Cardinals/Eagles checklist share No. 257. Carl Pickens (really No. 138) and the Chargers/Steelers checklist share No. 258.

Coming events

Today, baseball card show, Arbutus Fire Hall, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 242-6286 or (410) 788-8378. Jan. 9-10, 1966 World Champion Orioles Reunion baseball card show with portion of proceeds to benefit Epilepsy Association, (expected signers include Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Luis Aparicio), Pikesville Armory, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Card of the Week

Bowman football has the same look as the hockey and baseball versions. There are 573 cards, which come 15 to a pack, including one gold-foil card. The gold-foil cards highlight 1991 leaders and longest plays. Statistics are limited to last year's.

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