You know how young kids can get obsessed with things? Great, I knew you did. Well let me tell you a story. I was once one of those young kids before I grew up to be the content creator I am today, and I was obsessed with sports cards—basedball (a.k.a. baseball), basketball, football, whatever. I got them out of Sports Illustrated for Kids magazines, at Target, at this sports card store, even Ebay.
I’m serious. One summer the Brewers had an exorbitant amount of bobblehead giveaways and my friends and I went to all the games and snatched up any bobblehead we could. Then we sold said bobbleheads on Ebay for as much as like 30 dollars a pop sometimes. I know, right. I made a couple hundred dollars that summer and I was I think 11 or 12 and yeah, I did turn around and spend most of it on Ebay buying cards. I’m talking Matt Leinart and Vince Young rookie cards—great investment—a gold plated David Ortiz card and my personal favorite, a Paul Pierce jersey card. It got to the point where I can remember my mom telling me I had to chill. I mean sure, it was a bit excessive, but what else are you going to spend money on—money that I had worked hard for, let me remind you on the bobblehead trade market—when you’re not even a teenager. The concept of saving for the future doesn’t exist when you’re in middle school.
I had special binders, I had protective hard plastic cases for my best cards so the corners wouldn’t get bent, I had boxes where the lame cards went—I had it all. But then I started to drift away from the sports card world. I didn’t make a point to stop buying new cards; it was just one of those things where one day you realize the interest isn’t there anymore—at least not on the same level as before. And looking back it’s pretty easy to see how it happened. When you’re nine, ten, eleven years old, you can ask for a pack or two as you leave the store with your parents, but when you’re fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, that doesn’t work as well anymore—plus you aren’t really going to the store with your parents as much because that’s not c o o l. On top of that, at some point card companies got greedy and packs that were once 99 cents became two dollars and two dollars became three dollars and all of a sudden two or three packs is ten bucks and it’s hard to justify that every time you go to the store.
Sure, every once in a while you pick up a pack as you’re leaving Target—if only for that thrill of opening it and seeing what cards you got. Because few things are as great as that couple of moments where you flip through the cards, looking for your favorite player or a big time rookie. But while once those cards were separated and placed with care in just the right spot in your binder, they’re now just left somewhere on a desk, looked at once in a while though usually only because you see them as you’re looking for something else.
That’s where I was with basketball cards nowadays—at least until a few weeks ago when I got to Las Vegas for Summer League. See, in Vegas magical things can happen, and I was blessed to see this magic carried out in the form of unlimited free basketball cards. Every time you walked past this table in the concourse, a pack of cards was practically shoved into your hand. Even if for some reason you wanted to turn them down, it was impossible [Ed. note: almost literally. I didn’t want a pack, but they were thrust into my hand regardless].
Sitting on press row already in disbelief that I had the opportunity to cover basketball games in person, I was transported back to those years when I cared about little else but getting a sick card collection. Opening the packs and seeing a Wiggins or an Exum was just as awesome as it was years ago ripping open a pack and seeing an Adam Morrison rookie card staring back at you—sure that didn’t turn out so well, but at the time…
I haven’t bought any packs since I’ve returned from the desert, but I have spent a few hours looking through all the cards I have in my room, and it was quite enjoyable. When you’re done reading this go find your cards—I know you have them somewhere—and check them out. All sorts of memories flood back as you laugh at what cards you put on a pedestal years ago or why you have three Patrick O’Bryant rookie cards, and for a few minutes at least, nothing else matters.
Because basketball cards are dope.