Back in October, I showed off what were then the only basketball cards that were in my collection. Now, since I've added a few more that have filtered in from other deals, I'd like to do a short about these new additions.
Topps was out of the basketball card market for a long time. After a set in 1957, they waited until 1969 to make a second set. The sets in 1969/'70 and 1970/'71 were both large-sized sets, much like 1964 Topps hockey and 1965 Topps football had been. Since basketball players tended to be taller, the format was actually appropriate.
In 1971, Topps reduced their basketball set to the same standard size all their mainstream sets had:
Card #58 -- Calvin Murphy, Houston Rockets
In a way, these were similar to the design of 1969 Topps football, with a player photo in front of a solid color. A very 1970s font is used at the top to denote the player's team's city, while red sets apart the player's initials and position. Cards 1-144 feature NBA players while series 2 (145-233) feature players from the old ABA.
I only have a small handful of cards from this set, but I did notice this:
(Love the old ABA basketball seen on Cannon's card)
1971/'72 was the first season the Rockets played in Houston after four seasons in San Diego. Since NASA was in Houston, the "Rockets" name was a fit there. However, they weren't the only professional basketball team to play with the name. Denver was an original ABA team in 1967 and also called themselves the Rockets. As the ABA/NBA merger appeared to be working out during the mid-1970s, the Denver team changed its name to Nuggets, a name it still uses to this day.
1972/'73 saw a new design that wasn't going to hearken back to any other designs:
Card #238 -- Gerald Govan, Memphis Tams
Again, the set was broken down between the leagues. Cards #1-176 featured NBA players, and #177-264 were from the ABA. There were also subsets for playoffs and statistical leaders in each Series as well.
Here's an interesting card I noticed in my stack:
Card #2 -- Stan Love, Baltimore Bullets
The back of Stan Love's card says, "Stan's brother, Mike, sings with a rock & roll group."
Mike Love. Why couldn't Topps just say he was a member of The Beach Boys? There must have been a licensing issue that prevented it.
For the 1973/'74 set, here's a card featuring somebody familiar to fans outside of basketball:
Card #71 -- Phil Jackson, New York Knicks
At the time this card was being printed, Phil Jackson had just helped the Knicks to the 1973 NBA championship. He didn't get any more titles as a player before retiring in 1980, but he made up for that as a head coach, leading 11 teams to NBA titles. This is part of another set split between two leagues: #1-176 are NBA players and 177-264 are ABA pros. Again, there are subsets for league statistical leaders and playoff series.
Here's a card from the set worth showing:
Card #179 -- Steve Jones, Carolina Cougars
Yes, it's a victim of Topps' sometimes lousy QA control. There are two things here that I immediately think of:
- That Afro is too big for the card to hold
- "Cougars" has a very different connotation today
As a guy who is not only a vintage collector but also a 1970s style connoisseur (which is a fancy word for "freak"), it would logically follow that I'm also a fan of 1970s basketball cards. However, I never really started picking up the cards despite the fact that the sets are often quite small and not overly tough to collect. I'll probably be pretty easily hooked if I ever chance upon a nice starer set somewhere.
Well, somebody actually took me up on that, and any further additions to my collection will only help me as I keep showing the cards here.