Saturday, May 8, 2010

2010 Panini Court Kings

Now mid-way through the NBA Playoffs and I am mid-way through Panini’s NBA releases. Timeless Treasures Basketball has been released; Absolute Memorabilia is coming up in just about 2 weeks so I will be covering Court Kings next. Here is Panini’s NBA releases over the next couple of months; Timeless Treasures Basketball (4/28), Absolute Memorabilia Basketball (5/19), Court Kings (6/02) and Platinum NBA (7/7).

Court Kings is another top end product from Panini, each pack will contain 11 cards of which you will get at least 1 Auto, 1 Memorabilia, 3 commons #/325 or less and the remain cards will be various inserts possibly including autos or memorabilia cards.

Scheduled Release Date: June 2, 2010
Box Configuration: 11 cards per pack, 1 pack per box
SRP: $ 80-100

Box Break: 4 Autographs or Memorabilia cards (at least 1 Auto and 1 Memorabilia), 3 commons #/325, 1 Bronze parallel and 3 other cards, which could include autographs or memorabilia cards. You will also receive a 5x7 Box Topper, which could be autographed and #/75 or less.

This set is a bit different then most of Panini’s recent releases. First thing is that there are not a ton of parallels, only Bronze (#/149), Silver (#/99) and Black (#/1) and there are autograph and relic versions of each card but I don’t know if I would call those parallels.

The base set consists of 120 cards and is broken down in to rookies, commons, stars and retired. The checklist contains the standards like Stephen Curry, Blake Griffin, LeBron James, Kobe and Clyde Drexler and Lenny Willkins, so you can expect to pull a myriad of players.

The inserts list is a pretty interesting variety so as to appeal to a large group of collectors and consist of Gallery of Stars, Artistry, Masterpieces, Dribble Kings, Supreme Court, Portraits, Il Bello Cinque and Box Toppers plus a couple of others that are not listed here.

I have selected a couple of the inserts to highlight that really appealed to me out of that list. First up would be the Dribble Kings. This set focuses on the top dribblers in the NBA, players like Steve Nash, Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant. I love the design, the colors give the impression of a basketball court and even though the autographs are stickers it works well in this case.

The Masterpieces stood out to me because this card is designed well; I feel that Panini has come a long way from their first designs that were released when they first came to the US market. I love the colors on this card, the borders, the action photos that are used and even though the relic is a small dime sized piece it stands out. The Masterpieces set focuses on high flyers, players that are known for their slam-dunking ability. Of course LeBron leads off the checklist but the list contains some dunkers that will bring back memories for us all. Dominique Wilkins, Larry Johnson, Clyde “The Glide” Drexler and then everyone’s favorite slam-dunk contest winner. Spud Webb. One of my all-time favorites players are also included, Cedric Ceballos. He was one of the best 6th-man in the game during his days with the Suns and their 1993 run to the NBA Finals.

My favorite insert also happens to be the one I have to hate the most. Il Bello Cinque, translated it means “the beautiful five”, consists of 5 artistic renderings of Kobe Bryant. The card design resembles a painting inside a frame, a true thing of beauty. The reason it barbs me is that being a Phoenix Suns fan my entire life I am wired to hate the Lakers and all who wear the Purple and Gold. There is also an autographed version of this insert #/24 (of course).
For those who are wondering, yes it killed me to watch Cedric Ceballos during his 2-¼ years with the Lakers.

My Thoughts:
Only one thing that I can say about this set- “Il Bello Rilascio”. I love this set, I feel that this is a beautiful release. Panini got this one right and hopefully will be used as the benchmark for future sets. It is very limited and the inserts are pretty amazing in my book.

Don’t get me wrong, I did find some things that I did not care for in this release. The autographs are stickers, which you would expect hard-signed cards in a release that runs $100/pack. The relic pieces are dime sized, but in that defense the cards look good with the smaller relics because it gave more room for card design and player portraits. For some reason the Supreme Court insert rubs me wrong, I don’t know why but I don’t care for it.

I would have to say that this release is well worth the cost and you are going to be happy with your pulls. I would love to get my hands on a couple of packs, now if I only had a couple of hundred bucks that were burning a hole in my pocket.

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