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MJ’s En Fuego: If The Wax Could Talk — Part III

My Short Hobby Blog/Vlog Story of the Month is part III 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. 

In part two of “If The Wax Could Talk,” I described how a limited 1992-93 Fleer Basketball collection during my first hobby run bestowed me and other collectors alike with the honorary title of “bystander.” In this role of bystander, we lived vicariously through the top collectors in the neighborhood as they made their stand for or assumed the titles of “King of The Yard” and “Legendary Collector.” During those moments, we had the chance to witness what it looked like, sounded like, and felt like to be considered the best collector in Ludlow and the neighborhood. Also, the titles of “king of the yard” or “legendary collector” were only bestowed upon those with the best card(s) that had “four sharp corners and no creases.” In the James R Ludlow schoolyard, the neighborhood, and Penn Treaty Cafeteria, the most prolific collectors knew they had to “bring their A-Game or C themselves home, respectfully.” 

Pieces of cardboard were our glory, and if you had the RIGHT cardboard, the titles you would achieve, such as best collector, king of the yard, or legendary collector in the schoolyard, cafeteria, and neighborhood, would cement your name in the annals of cardboard history! However, as time passed, the community we fostered through cardboard began to die slowly, and with each passing day, week, month, and year, our collecting circles would get smaller and smaller. As our cardboard circles got smaller, so did our access and exposure to the future card(s) we would have revered the most. When I think about those lost years after the demise of the cardboard communities I was a member of, several cards come to mind; however, one card stands out among them—-the 1996 Topps Michael Jordan Seasons Best En Fuego insert card, number 1.


When I think about the 1996 Topps Michael Jordan Seasons Best En Fuego insert card, three what-ifs come to mind:

  • The first what-if I think about is what the nostalgia would have looked, sounded, and felt like if this card had circulated in one of the two hobby ecosystems I was a part of in middle school. 

  • The second what-if I think about is what could and should have been if the top collectors in my neighborhood had stayed in the hobby when this MJ insert was released in 1996.

  • The third what-if I think about is what the trade package would have looked like for this classic MJ insert card in both of my cardboard communities. 

These three what-ifs, on the one hand, make me happy and, on the other hand, make me sad. 

Why? When I use my imagination and think about some of the most prolific collectors in and outside my neighborhood, the monumental moments that could have transpired because of the En Fuego MJ insert card would have been beyond legendary. I can only imagine what the vantage points of others would have looked, felt, and sounded like for:

  • the person who pulled the En Fuego card

  • the person who became king of the schoolyard and cafeteria because of the En Fuego card

  • the person who traded for the En Fuego card

  • the people who celebrated the person who had the En Fuego card

  • the people who witnessed the trade for the En Fuego card

I wholeheartedly believe that the iconic MJ En Fuego insert card would have elevated our cardboard ecosystems to heights beyond our imagination. However, as I attempt to hold on and acknowledge the imaginative experiences that never happened, I also have to recognize what was lost due to the decimation of two great cardboard ecosystems. In 1996, during the circulation of the MJ En Fuego insert card, the participants of the Ludlow and Penn Treaty cardboard ecosystems:

  • lost the opportunity to experience organic cardboard joy and humor

  • missed the moment(s) to participate in or celebrate someone's cardboard triumphant 

  • forfeited a chance to grow their cardboard collection and expand their cardboard knowledge or insight 

  • was not granted the luxury to chase/hunt the classic MJ insert card

Even though this cardboard story does not have a reminiscent happy ending, today, having one of the most iconic MJ insert cards from the mid-90s in my PC has allowed me to restore the ruins of two great cardboard communities. Also, by adding this classic insert card to my PC, some of the most prolific collectors, known and unknown from my neighborhood and beyond, now have their names added to the halls of the cardboard annals. So, if the wax could talk, in 1996, when the Topps Michael Jordan Seasons Best En Fuego insert card was released, the wax would say:

  • The chase was beyond “En Fuego.”

  • The battle for “king of the yard” and “legendary collector” was unforgettable.

  • The trade talks and packages for the En Feugo insert card were extraordinary. 

  • The nostalgia experienced during the pulls for the En Fuego insert card—you had to be there; if you weren't, you missed out.

  • Our love for cardboard was REAL!

Keep Collecting, 

Click the link to view the Picture of the 1996 Topps Michael Jordan En Feugo Inset Card!


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