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Iconic Inserts: Press Pass Net Burners

Welcome back to Iconic Inserts, where we take a look at some of the most memorable inserts in the hobby. And with the recent news of Leaf resurrecting Press Pass, what better time than now to shine a spotlight on their legendary Net Burners insert. Back in the mid-to-late 90’s, when card companies had sprung up left and right & licenses handed out like candy, Press Pass (like many) was fighting for relevance. Never afraid to experiment (they created the first relic card & first jersey card), Press Pass rode the die-cut wave and crafted the Net Burners set for their 1996 Basketball release. And thank goodness they did. They may not be the most expensive cards in the world, but they’re some of the coolest and most unique cards of the era. 

The debut Net Burners line used a brightly colored “fire” backboard and goal for the background, with a dynamic action shot of the player “inside the hoop”. The net and surrounding area are intricately die-cut, with the holes in the net giving the final design an incredibly unique look. Players are featured in their high-school or college jerseys, and the player & insert name are featured at the bottom on a beautiful foil. 

If only Press Pass could have made up their minds. The 1997 design took a drastically different approach, going for a more “futuristic” look. In ‘98 they returned to the original design, tweaking the colors a bit but going back to the popular “net” design. By 1999 they had abandoned the design yet again, going with an uninspired design that was a far cry from any of the previous releases. From there, Net Burners was put on the back burner as autographs and relics began to take precedence. 

At the time, the basketball hobby was thriving. And although the original Net Burners set would only last for four years (1996-99), a massive influx of future HOF & All-Time Greats (Kobe, Iverson, Garnett, Pierce & more) during that time will ensure the Net Burners set remains relevant in the hobby. Fleer attempted to resurrect the brand w/their 2002-2003 Hot Shots release, but lacked the die-cut of the original and was a one and done. 

When most basketball collectors think of Press Pass, they think of the die-cut nets of the Net Burners. With the recent resurrection of Press Pass by Leaf, could we possibly see the return of the ICONIC Net Burners set?


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