The future of Upper Deck basketball

March 4, 2009 at 7:45 pm | Posted in Basketball, Upper Deck | 5 Comments

I think that I might be breaking some news with this, but I’ve been so busy in the last couple of days that I haven’t been able to keep up with many blogs, so maybe this has already been reported.  But I found an interesting tidbit in my email today from Balenac & Abrams, a dealer in Iowa that I’ve bought hobby boxes from in the past.  It’s about an upcoming 2009-2010 Upper Deck basketball product.

As you probably know, I am definitely not a basketball card collector, but I still had a very opinionated reaction to the news that Upper Deck (and Topps) would be losing their basketball card licenses, and an Italian sticker company would be gaining exclusive rights from the NBA to produce basketball cards.  So I think it’s a very interesting development that Upper Deck is going forward with at least one unlicensed 2009-2010 basketball card set.  It’s called Upper Deck Draft Basketball and here are the details:


Upper Deck is debuting 09/10 UD Draft Basketball. Draft Basketball promises to bring you top rookies from the upcoming NBA entry draft. Collectors will be able to uncover basketball legends and future all-stars and get them the week of the draft! Each box will have four numbered autographed cards with an insert, autograph or parallel card in every pack. Every case will have one multi-signed card. This is a great way to get next year’s stars today!

The release date is June 23, 2009.  I assume that the cards will feature the rookies in their college (or in some cases, high school) uniforms.  Since college basketball is arguably even more popular than the NBA, I don’t think that many people will complain about this.  It’s also interesting that “basketball legends” will be included.  It’s likely that the list of legends will include Michael Jordan and others who are signed to exclusive contracts with Upper Deck.

It seems pretty clear that Upper Deck is taking the same route with basketball cards that Donruss-Playoff has taken with baseball cards since losing its license.  It’s going to be very interesting to see if this will prompt the NBA to sue Upper Deck just as MLB has sued Donruss.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Upper Deck executives are monitoring the MLB-Donruss lawsuit very carefully, and weighing whether it might be better for the company to forgo its MLB and MLBPA licenses in favor of producing more profitable, unlicensed products like Donruss has done.

So what do basketball card collectors think of this development?  Are you more likely to collect unlicensed Upper Deck cards of the top 2009-2010 rookies (and legendary retired players) or go with the unproven Panini cards?  I know that I’d choose Upper Deck in a heartbeat…



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  1. The NBA is no longer able to draft out of HS – you must have 1 year of post HS experience to enter the NBA draft, so it is likely all the cards will be college unis.

    It is a pretty good idea. I like the cards of players in there college uniforms. trouble is there are only like 15 NBA caliber players in a single draft class. even less candidates then Donruss had for baseball.

  2. I like it, because Upper Deck’s basketball cards consistently look beautiful. Knowing that they will be able to put out more cards in the future makes me happy, and I probably will be putting money into a box of this.

    Even better, I like the fact that this news was broken to you by an Iowa dealer. Go Hawks, baby!

  3. Upper Deck’s NBA license does not expire — and Panini’s does not begin — until October 1st, 2009. So, this may very well be an NBA “licensed” product. (Albeit, a licensed set without any current NBA players.)

    Either way, it appears that UD is signaling to The Hobby that they intend to go the “Donruss” route with basketball.

  4. If it weren’t for including the legend players this is going to basically be Press Pass.

    It is possible that they show their “legend” players in college uniform or no NBA uniform at all.

    However if Donruss wins its suit who knows

  5. I dont know anything about basketball, but Id take the UD box over Pannini.

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