NBA rookies lend a helping hand to card makers

The product development teams at Topps and Upper Deck are making plans for incorporating the many photos, autographs and memorabilia items they obtained at the recent NBA rookie photo shoot into their 2005-06 products.

“We had 34 players participate in this year’s shoot,” said Lisa Goldberg, senior director for trading cards and memorabilia for NBA Properties. “The guys were all very cooperative and very easy going. I think they understood the importance of the event in terms of obtaining the photos for the cards and the autographs. It was a great working day for everyone involved.” The event was held at the New York Knicks practice facility in Tarrytown, N.Y.

Topps used the event to obtain autographs, jerseys and shoot-around shirts. It also produced its Rookie Photo Shoot Autographs insert set. This year the company has added nine dual-autographed cards and four triple-autographed cards. There are only 14 copies of each of the dual autographs, while the triple autographs are limited to just 10 per card. The cards are produced at the photo shoot and players are given some of their cards at the end of the event to share with family, friends and their fellow rookies. The cards can be found in Topps Basketball, which hits shelves next month. “The Photo Shoot cards have become such an important part of the Topps product that, other than the photography, it’s one of our key initiatives for us at the event,” said Topps spokesman Clay Luraschi. “It benefits us, but the players also get a kick out of it as well.”

Upper Deck also obtained a variety of autographs and event-used items from the photo shoot that will be included in a number of its products this season. Karvin Cheung, basketball brand manager for Upper Deck, said this year’s rookie class seemed more “trading-card savvy” than previous groups. “Sean May was talking a lot about collecting items related to his father (former NBA player Scott May) and many of the other rookies were discussing things they’ve collected over the years,” Cheung said. “It seems the more they know about collecting, the easier it is to work with them because they have a better idea of what we’re trying to accomplish.”

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