Card manufacturers are chomping at the bit to get the go-ahead and print cards of up-and-coming basketball phenom Bronny James, son of NBA Legend LeBron James. Prince James has graduated from high school and is preparing to start his college career at the University of Southern California, home of the Trojans.
His recent health scare has been quite concerning, perhaps due to the viral social media reaction and speculation about his health.
But more “official” reports from his literal team of doctors say, “...it is an anatomically and functionally significant Congenital Heart Defect which can and will be treated. They added, “We are confident in Bronny’s full recovery and return to basketball in the very near future.”
The hype is very real, and so is the prospecting being done by collectors. Topps continues to impose their will onto the space and has created a 2023 Topps Chrome McDonalds All-American set, including Prince James.
According to the checklist, there will be twenty packs in every hobby box—four cards per pack. Features include two autographs per box, six refractors, and a chance at a McDonald’s Logo parallel. (bigmac-fractor instead of tacofractors?) Scheduled for release on September 27th.
But my favorite feature of the set is that it will have male and female players from the East and West Coast. So, a very diverse checklist is two thumbs up from me.
Be Mindful of This One Fact
I understand the appeal this may have for some collectors. Especially those who are King James fans. It’s a great chapter in his legacy and will tie a nice bow to bring his career to a close.
I get the fandom side of things, and I’m all for it. I love it! However, I am already hearing whispers of a significant identification mistake. Some collectors refer to the cards inside the 2023 Topps Chrome McDonalds All-American as “rookie cards.”
Allow me to explain. I am not saying that these aren’t cool cards to own. They most definitely are! And I’m not saying that these aren’t collectible. I simply want you to be mindful that, technically and officially, the cards featured in this set are not rookie cards. [emphasis mine]
Legally, a rookie card can’t be printed until after that player has made a pro-level roster. These high school players have not been drafted into the NBA or WNBA.
A rookie card must be licensed by both the League and the Player’s Association. Turn the card over and look for the licensing rights. You won’t see any.
A rookie card must have a rookie card identifying logo displayed on the card front to signify that it is a rookie card. The cards in this set won’t have that RC logo. Do you know why? Because legally, they can’t.
Says who?! You might ask.
The Player’s Association.
The legal authority.
The Forsaken Story of the Rookie Card
The history of the rookie card shows us one thing is sure. The definition of a rookie card evolved. So much so that collectors needed clarification because the guidelines the hobby had established were now skewed due to the continued progression of card manufacturers.
In 2006, the Player’s Association got involved legally and communicated to the industry what was and was not allowable for the rookie card. Their involvement was to prevent further “consumer confusion.”
In hindsight, it was a step in the right direction. However, some collectors loved it, while others hated it. Over time, the rookie card guidelines established by the PA and the guidelines established by the hobby were strategically forsaken.
Today, there is a very broad definition of a rookie card, too broad! Everything is considered a rookie card today, and the waters are muddied.
I’m not campaigning for a narrow definition of a rookie; that would not be good for today’s hobby, but I don’t think it should be as broad as it is today either. We need to reign this in a bit. You know, tighten the belt.
I have spent most of my hobby hours resurrecting the guidelines for our beloved rookie card, and I’ve created a free document you can view and download called Rookie Card Guidelines & Best Practices. If interested, please feel free to check it out.
Until Next Month,