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92-93 Fleer Basketball: If The Wax Could Talk — Part I

My Short Hobby Blog/Vlog Story of the Month is part I of a three-part series that describes what the wax would say about the collectors of my cardboard community when we were chasing the 92-93 Fleer Basketball set. Also, in this three-part series, I describe what the wax would say about us had we had the chance to collect a classic MJ insert card from the 1996 Topps Basketball set.

When the 1992-1993 Fleer Basketball Gold Border set came out, I was in the 4th grade at James R. Ludlow Elementary School. Mr. Jones was my fourth-grade teacher and the spirit of collecting cardboard permeated throughout the classrooms of my elementary school and neighborhood. More specifically, the release and circulation of the 1992-1993 Fleer Basketball cards was the central theme of our conversations during lunch, recess, and the final minutes before the last bell of the school day. These conversations about cardboard and the 92-93 Fleer Basketball set would continue as we walked out the various exits of Ludlow to the basketball courts of Cruz Recreation Playground and the surrounding blocks within my zip code.

The collectors who drove the experiences mentioned above were prolific in their own right, and even though our access to “the hobby” was limited, we still made the most of our collecting experiences. Our cardboard experiences were robust; every day, we used our imagination to pollinate what would become our rules of engagement in the various cardboard circles within our school and neighborhood. As these cardboard conversations continued daily at Ludlow and throughout our neighborhood, our organic cardboard circles would eventually evolve into one big cardboard ecosystem. The 1992-1993 Fleer Basketball Gold Border set was the center of our cardboard ecosystem; as the top cards within this classic set revealed themselves with each pack we opened, everyone within our five-to-ten-block radius wanted to be the king of the yard.

At the height of the 1992-1993 Fleer Basketball set, the top collectors who made their stand to be the king of the yard would engage in legendary cardboard conversations; the nostalgia created from these moments was undeniable. The great debates, the boasting, the bragging, and sometimes lying about cards you didn't have were very nuanced and high-level for kids our age. The themes that would evolve from these nuanced junk wax conversations, depending on your age and grade, were classic and would center around:

  • What player had the best dunk card in the set (e.g., Shawn Kemp - Card Number 213)

  • The best action shot (e.g., Dennis Rodam - Card Number 66)

  • The best Pro-Vision insert card (e.g., Larry Johnson - Card Number 253)

  • The best rookie card (e.g., Shaquille O’Neal - Card Number 401)

  • The best Slam Dunk insert (e.g., Michael Jordan - Card Number 273)

  • Who pulled the MJ card First (Until this day, it’s still up for debate)

  • Who had the most cards in the set (it was a tie between Jermaine or Morris)

  • Who had all the inserts (I would say me, but I would be lying)

  • Who’s cards were in the best condition (e.g., four sharp corners and zero creases)

The engaging conversations and lively debates we all participated in throughout Ludlow and the neighborhood impacted me profoundly as a new collector. In these moments, I grew my cardboard IQ, increased my collection in quantity, and added big cards from this set to my PC. More importantly, the 1992-1993 Fleer Basketball set ushered me into what I call today my golden era of collecting cardboard.

During my first hobby run, if the wax could talk, it would say:

  • Our conversations were DOPE!

  • Our debates were legendary.

  • We built a thriving cardboard community.

  • We REALLY loved collecting cardboard.

Keep Collecting,


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