Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Jack McCallum's Unfinished Business

I finished Jack McCallum's book, Unfinished Business.  The book chronicles the 1990-1991 Boston Celtic Season.  During that time frame I wasn't a Celtics fan as they continually beat up on my Hawks. That said I did respect them and that respect has only grown throughout the years.  The Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish era was truly a great time in Boston and the NBA for that matter.  The book provided me more insight into the players than I've ever gotten before.  During their playing days my only view of the players came from their games on cable or the NBA publications I subscribed to (Hoop Magazine & NBA Digest).  Local papers in small towns where I lived didn't carry much NBA coverage, if any.  So it wasn't until later in life that I learned how funny Kevin McHale is, how much of a loner Parish was, or that Larry Bird really was this big trash talker.  That is where these books are great.  You get that insight.  I wish I had read this book in 1992 when it was published.  It would have helped me to know who these greats of the NBA were while I could still see them live.

I've known this book was held in great regard among NBA books and it quickly moved to the top of my reading list when I found it for $5 at a collectibles show in October.  This was
one of the last years of the Larry-Kevin-Robert trio.  In fact this would be Bird's next to last season in the NBA.  It details Chris Ford's first year as the Boston coach and an era of when the younger Celtics were looked to to make a contribution as that of Larry-Kevin-Robert declined.  Injuries played a big part of the big three's issues as well as age itself.  For his part, Parish actually stayed healthy in the regular season.  It was an unlikely season where Boston entered the playoffs as the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference after a year in which they started strong but injuries derailed the season.    In the playoffs they reached the second round only to lose to bitter rival Detroit.  Again injuries took their toll.  Back to the title of the book, these Celtics were so good that until injuries did them in, it looked like they were a true title contender. 

While that is the framework of the book, the fun is in the details.  The behind the scenes stuff about the players, coaches and management.  McCallum does a good job giving each their space in the book and letting us get to know them while keeping a good pace.  Sometimes it is hard because I may have seen players in a different light in 1991-1992 even though I really didn't know much about them.  Again it is a good book, and a fun read and I expect anyone who likes the NBA should enjoy this book. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

2015-2016 Panini Prizm Basketball Cards

I'm not a Prizm or shiny card guy so please take this for what it is worth.  I grabbed a multi-pack pack of the 2015-2016 Panini Prizm basketball cards.  For $9.98 I got 15 cards including 3 red, white and blue parallels.  So the price point is the first thing I don't like.  That isn't much for what you pay.  Of course if I liked the cards more I'd probably be more on board.  I get it.

That said these aren't bad cards.  The photos are good and the front design pretty decent.  The back is also a plus for me. While you only get the standard Panini one year of stats, it is colorful and not hard to look at.  The pull itself wasn't great but livable.  It was my next to last pack before I really got a true star and that was when I pulled a Kevin Durant base card and a Russell Westbrook All-Star Game card.  So out of 15 cards that is ok.  I also pulled one rookie card (RC) and two throwbacks (Dennis Rodman and Dino Radja).  Dino Radja? He was a solid player who averaged 16 and 8 for his career but he seems a stretch for inclusion in this type of subset. 

If you like the shiny Prizm type cards I think this will be something you'd like. For me I'll pass but I did want to give it a try and also try to be fair about it. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Fall 2015 Memorabila Show Finds Part 3 - Football Cards

Great cards. Topps Valor always has sharp looking cards and add Deion Sanders to the mix and it only gets better.  Julio will probably sit on top of the all-time great receivers in Falcons history list once he retires.  And a nice Steve Bartkowski card from Panini.
These are some of the football cards I picked up from the show. A mix of some of new and old of players I really like.  I am real happy with the football cards I was able to pick up.
Man crush time.  These are great cards of Tom Brady from the Patriots throwback to his college days and a nice shot of him in throwing in heavy snow.
Always been a big fan of Doug Williams from his days in the Tampa Bay creamsicle uniforms.  I was a big Elway guy even though he jilted the Colts and Phillip Rivers has jumped up on my list the last few years as a player I enjoy.
Whereas I like small forwards in basketball wide receivers were my favorites growing up.   Charlie Joiner is probably my all-time favorite with Cliff Branch right behind him.  Alfred Jenkins is my favorite receiver from the Falcons. 
More of my favorites from my younger years!

Fall 2015 Memorabila Show Finds Part 2 - Basketball Cards

Walton is one of the top 3 centers of all-time in my mind.  I've always had a thing for small forwards so guys like Marques Johnson and Julius Erving are easy pick ups when I find them. 
Basketball cards are always hit and miss at these shows.  St. Louis doesn't have a team and the sport definitely takes a back seat to Baseball and Football in the collecting world.  That said, I still managed to find some nice cards though not that many of my Hawks and Trail Blazers.  Enjoy.
One of the few cards of Scottie Pippen in a Trail Blazers uniform that I have.  I went to Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, MO at the same time as Latrell Sprewell and always followed him as a player no mater how bad his antics were. 
Big fan of these three guys.  Dale Ellis could shoot it like nobody else's business and Tim Duncan and David Robinson are just all-time greats. 

Fall 2015 Memorabila Show Finds Part 1 - Baseball Cards

Last fall I attended another of the After the Game Inc. card shows in St. Louis. I love digging through the boxes of cards finding my favorite players or cards that interest me in general.  I'm an Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox fan and it shows in the cards I found.  In this post and a few follow up posts I'll show off some of my favorite finds from the show. 
Yaz and Rice are my all-time favorite Red Sox players and I found a few cards of theirs I didn't have.

More of my favorite Red Sox players.  Wakefield is a top 5 Red Sox player for me and I even have a jersey of his. 
Plenty of Dale Murphy inserts from the more modern sets so I'm always finding some I don't have.
Who doesn't love Chipper?
Glavine and Smoltz cards with another Murphy thrown in.
I'm a fan of Andrew McCutchen and Yoenis Cespedes so I enjoy picking up their cards as well. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

2015-16 Panini Complete Basketball Cards

Picked up the 2015-2016 Panini Complete basketball cards.  This set is a low end alternative for card collectors and it shows.  The card stock is very thin.  That said this isn't a bad set.  I definitely prefer it over the Hoops cards from this year.  The design is pretty simple but I like the colored borders matching the team colors, nice team logo and name.  Simple and nice looking even if the player's position is missing.  The "Complete" product logo is also a little large but overall a nice card.  I pulled a Court Vision insert as well as a gold and a silver parallel card.  The silver parallel was OK but I didn't care for the gold one that much.  Silver parallels are one to each pack but the gold are one to every 36 packs so the gold parallel was a nice surprise.  I was happy with my pull as Stephen Curry, John Wall, Anthony Davis and LaMarcus Aldridge were among my cards.  I also had a few rookie cards. 
The backs weren't bad with a nice sized color team logo, player information, a write-up and stats from last year.  Considering how bland the Hoops' backs are these are great.  Ok maybe the color logo isn't that big a game changer but I still like the backs much better than what Hoops gives us.  If you are ok with a thin stocked card you should definitely check this set out.