ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Basketball cards have long been more than just photos and text. Years ago companies started inserting cards with little authentic game-worn keepsakes built-in to the card — swatches of jerseys, a piece of a court, etc. But this season cards are going where they’ve never gone before.
In Panini America’s 2013-14 Immaculate Basketball collection, releasing on Friday, they’ve managed to incorporate cards that have pieces of game-worn shoes from everyone from Kobe Bryant to Kevin Durant to Larry Johnson inside the cards. Panini wrote about the genesis of the idea on their official blog…
“The idea to create the Sneak Peek memorabilia cards came while we were looking at a pair of Kobe Bryant game-worn sneakers in the Panini Authentic memorabilia room,” said Jim Stefano, Panini America’s Senior Director of Product Development. “NBA players, more so than any other athletes, wear sneakers that reflect their personalities. Their sneakers are an extension of who they are. It’s all about the swag.”
That swag, of course, takes various forms. Shaquille O’Neal’s Reebok Pumps. Blake Griffin’s Jordans. Kobe’s Kobes. Larry Johnson’s Converse Reacts. LeBron’s Nike Lebron Xs. It was one thing to create a wishlist of game-worn sneakers to target for Sneak Peek; it was another thing altogether more complex to actually acquire them and then figure out how best to incorporate them into a trading card.
But Panini America acquisitions officials worked their relationships with exclusive and non-exclusives athletes alike to turn a wishlist into a checklist; from there, the game-worn sneakers made their way through Panini America HQ, with each department — Product Development, Production, Design — helping shape the masterful finished product.
“This was truly a great experience to develop and execute with the various departments within Panini America,” Stefano said. “It was a true team effort that resulted in one of the most singularly spectacular sets of trading cards ever created. The sheer amount of different swatch colors, materials and patterns is a unique and exciting development for the entire trading card category. We believe these cards will not only be sought after by basketball collectors but by sneaker heads as well.”
To see some examples of the cards, check below…