Thursday, August 21, 2008

1996 Upper Deck USA Basketball Deluxe Gold Edition

Last Olympics pack for a while from me. This is a USA Basketball set from Upper Deck meant to cash in on the 1996 Olympics. Upper Deck put out this set and one featuring Legendary Olympic Athletes in for the Atlanta games. They snuck in Michael Jordan into the Olympic set, but I can't blame 'em for that. This is a weird set. First of all, the cards are die cut on the bottom for some reason. I have no idea why, but they did it. Secondly, they padded out a 12 player team into a 72 card set. This means every player gets 5 cards each plus a two per pack SP foil card. The set was produced before the last two players were selected for the team and there's a redemption card for those players inserted one in 10 packs. I apparently never pulled a redemption card because I don't have any of those cards. In addition to the redemption, there are Career Highlight inserts, Michael Jordan and Penny Hardaway tribute cards and a set of Predictor cards where the card of the high scorer in the games would win you a prize. Upper Deck tacked on a USA Women's team subset at the end of the set to be fair to the ladies. Here's a pack for your approval.

SP - S1 Anfernee Hardaway
SP - S6 Hakeem Olajuwon
27 Scottie Pippen
28 Scottie Pippen
50 Grant Hill
54 Hakeem Olajuwon
4 Anfernee Hardaway
20 Shaquille O'Neal
35 Glenn Robinson
68 Carla McGee

As you can see there's a lot of opportunities to get more than one card of any given player. There are probably pretty astronomical odds against opening a pack where you didn't receive two of one player. The cards are nice, if a little repetitive. The SP cards are similar to the base set except for the black and white background printed on foilboard. Those are the best cards in the set though since they are the ones with career stats on the back. The other five cards are broken down into one "Portraits of Power" card like Grant below focusing on the '96 Olympics, and four other career highlights cards. Those highlights cards are really repetitive, as the backs all feature all four photos used on each of the fronts.

Here's one of the Women's Team cards of Carla McGee. These are a breath of fresh air from all the Pippen, Penny and Glen Robinson cards. This card here is extra awesome if you pay close attention to the photo. Former Tennesse Vol Carla is shooting over a University of Georgia player with Stegman Coluseum's waffle cone roof in the background while McGee is wearing her Team USA Uniform. I suppose it could have been an exhibition...


Cody Eding said...

You're right on the exhibition game comment. In 1996 Team USA defeated Georgia 100-53. They went 52-0 during the '96 season.

ourpresent said...

I have a few unopened packs of the 1996 Upper Deck USA Basketball Deluxe Gold Edition for sale. There are 5 cards of Charles Barkley and 5 of Mitch Richmond.