Thursday, April 3, 2014

'The Big E'.... and the beauty of 1970/71 Topps Basketball

Somewhere on line I saw a post or article about the 1970/71 Topps basketball set. The guy didn't have much good to say about the set (in fact he called it the ugliest set ever I think) but it caught my attention. I googled some images and was oddly attracted to the cards. So much so that I went out and picked some up. I think I bought two small lots and maybe a few on COMC.

Here are a few of the ones I've picked up so far. These babies are so bad they are good. Without a license Topps couldn't show logos or team nicknames. Interesting that they alllllmost show the full 'San Diego' lettering on both the Elvin Hayes above and this John Block card.

Nowadays there are plenty of cards on which you can't see the player's face. I'm thinking particularly of baseball cards which use outfielders leaping towards the fence with their backs to the plate. Things like that. But I can't think of many that give a better view of an armpit than a guy's face.

Another trick Topps used was to have the players pose with their uniform tops turned backwards. Since the tops are cut with the neck opening higher in the back it makes for an odd look.

T-shirts and warm-ups have a place here as well. Just great stuff. 

I have about twenty of the 175 cards in the set. I have a couple of the stars including my man, Connie Hawkins along with a leader card or two and a Jerry West All Star card. I have given some thought to chasing the whole set. But the Pete Maravich rookie is part of it and that card is pretty expensive. Like my '59 Mickey Mantle it's a card I'd have to hunt with patience. I'm not sure I'm up to it right now.


  1. Just recently went to an autograph signing with Steve Kuberski of the Celtics. He had told the story about wearing the shirts backwards they had to do it the next year also

  2. I love these vintage basketball cards. I have been slowly picking up a few vintage cards for my Knicks collection and I am very pleased to have a few in my collection.

  3. I just finished this set earlier this year. I love it. When I was young and buying these new, I was won over by the Nate Thurmond card. Too tall for a "Tall Boy". They only ever got series one in my neighborhood, so I was missing most of series two (had picked up a few along the way), including Maravich. But I won a large lot (including Maravich) and found myself just about 8-10 cards short of the set. At that point, I had to finish it. Now I just want to get me a wax wrapper to complete the experience. I probably have a few dupes if you've got anything interesting to trade. 1967 Leaf-Kabaya? T-205s? Or probably open to much more pedestrian goods, especially Mets.

    1. I'll check Stubby. May not have much of interest to you. '67 Leaf-Kabaya, huh? OMG that's a great set. I think I like it because it has those '59 Topps-ish cards.

    2. I guess its Kabaya-Leaf. My dyslexia acting up. Yeah, that's one of my guilty pleasures. That set, the T-205s and the 57-58 Topps basketball set. I try to snag 'em when I can get them reasonable (which isn't often) because they're gorgeous and they fascinate me (well, the 57-58 not so much, just something I started collecting for kicks a long time ago). I've got maybe half a dozen of the Kabaya-Leaf. Beautiful cards. Don't understand a word of it.

      I'm pretty easy to deal with. Surely you can think of something for a few dupes I'd be just as happy to be rid of (none of the biggies, mind you; no Alcindor or Wilt or Pistol Pete--but I do have a spare Big O or two).

  4. What a neat set! Some of those late 60s/early 70s sets look like a lot of fun.