Modern baseball and hockey card sets just haven't done much for me in recent years. Though they're the two sports I actually follow most closely, I don't think the monopolies that Topps has on baseball or Upper Deck has on hockey are good for collectors of either sport. I still enjoy collecting older cards for both sports, but just can't get excited about much of the newer stuff, with a few admitted exceptions.
Thinking back on it, one of the things that was most enjoyable to me about collecting as a kid in the early '90s was the fact that the teams, players, jerseys, photos and even card designs themselves were so foreign to me that it was kind of adventurous. We didn't have the internet, so cards were the way that I learned about so many of the players from my youth. I saw the design of a card set when I first got my grubby kid hands on the cards themselves spilling from a wax pack, not in a preview image posted online by the manufacturer six months before release date.
In an attempt to recapture just a sliver of that feeling I suppose, I decided recently that I'd try collecting a vintage basketball set. I've never collected basketball cards in earnest at any point in my life, and I don't intend to start now other than this small project. I also don't follow NBA basketball at all really. Never have, and don't think I have the time or desire to start anytime soon. I'm hoping that's what will make this project fun though, as nearly every single player and team will be completely foreign to me, just like when I was pulling cards out of '89-90 OPC hockey at the kitchen table back in the day.
The set I decided on ended up being 1971-72 Topps. There were three main reasons for this. First, I really wanted to go '70s, and preferably early '70s, just to enhance that strangeness factor I mentioned above. Next, I love the design, some similarities to the '71-72 hockey set I adore so much. Glorious bright colors and interesting facial hair abound! Finally, the set weighs in at a relatively scant 233 cards, which doesn't seem all that overwhelming.
I'm of course aware of the Cleveland Cavaliers, if you're a sports fan in general it would have been nearly impossible to ignore Lebron James over the past 10-15 years. Through this card and the reading it inspired me to do though, I learned that the Cavaliers joined the NBA via expansion in 1970.
Cleveland took the 6'11" center in the expansion draft that year, and he went on to have some notable games with the club. Walt wasn't particularly known for his scoring, but he put up 36 and 50-point games that first season. All of that while wearing shorts of a length that I'm fairly certain is illegal these days anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon Line...
It turns out Lantz is better known for his color commentary work than for his playing career. I did not realize this, but he's apparently been the color commentator for the Lakers radio broadcasts since 1987! I wonder if he still has those same sideburns?
Have you ever collected something that's completely outside your normal collecting wheelhouse so to speak? If so I'd love to hear what, and why, in the comments! Thanks as always for stopping by...
1971-72 Topps Basketball Progress - 2 / 233 (1%)
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