The 1997-98 NBA season was an amazing season for basketball fans, and was also one of the best for collectors. With an amazing rookie class featuring Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce & Jason Williams, alongside Jordan, Kobe, AI, KG and a large crop of up and coming superstars, 97-98 Basketball releases pushed the envelope further than Collectors ever thought possible. One set in particular, E-X Century Basketball, pushed that envelope even further, crafting some of the most iconic cards of the era. One insert in particular, a one and done set, took the hobby world by storm.
Let's go back to late 96/early 97, as product designers were prepping for the amazing E-X release. A random designer sits at his desk and is getting ready to start his day, but really wants a donut. He walks to the box and, of course, it's empty! All he wanted was his donut, and he went nuts. Storms back to his desk, sits down and BOOM, inspiration strikes.
Ok, so it didn't happen exactly like that (maybe it did?), but the E-X Century set and the team of designers at Skybox created one of the most iconic insert sets of all time with their 97-98 release, the Dunk'n Go-Nuts. At 1:36 packs, the odds made these one of the more attainable inserts in the set, but also one of the most demanded by collectors.
An obvious play on one of America's favorite donut (and eventually coffee) chains, collectors went as nuts for these cards as visitors do for the coffee and donuts. The acetate stock and raised player images are a sight to see, with "Dunk'n Go-Nuts" and the players name/image the main focal point of the card. It's something we see quite often in today's hobby, but in 97-98, seeing these come out of a pack would make anyone in a hobby shop stop and stare. Being on clear acetate, the back is essentially just a silhouette of the front, free from the statistics and facts normally reserved for the back. Instead, Skybox appears to write a letter TO the players on the back in their silhouette. Some are quite hilarious to read.
As noted earlier, the NBA was in a major transitional period in 97-98, and the Dunk'n set focused on many of the budding superstars and rookies in the game. The checklist is absolutely STACKED. And then there’s Felipe Lopez and Michael Dickerson. Hey, they can't all be MJ or Kobe, right?
The biggest downfall of the set? It was one and done. As card companies folded or were bought out by other companies (sound familiar?), the amazing Dunk'n Go-Nuts fell by the wayside, pushed out in favor of other designs. How this set hasn't gotten some type of re-release or revamp is shocking, especially considering the nostalgia factor many sets lean on in today's world.
To this day, however, the Dunk'n Go-Nuts set remains one of the most iconic insert sets of all-time. If you're looking to grab some of these amazing cards today, be prepared to shell out some serious cash, especially for the top names in the set. Being on acetate stock, highly graded copies command a heavy premium in today's world, with PSA 10 MJ's going for well north of $7,000. If you want one in your collection, however, you can still grab some of the Felipe Lopez or Tim Thomas cards for under $100.
They may not offer free tacos for life or anything like that, but Skybox crafted a work of art in 97-98 with the Dunk'n Go-Nuts set. Like the back of the MJ says, "we know NBA players can dunk, but it seems you took special pride in dunking over people. Ka-Bam," E-X took special pride in pushing the envelope and creating new, exciting sets and subsets, but few have stood the test of time like the Dunk'n line. Donuts, anyone?