Saturday, October 1, 2011

SIGnificant Cards - Michael Jordan 2003-04 UD SP Signature Edition Authentic Signatures

You know that funny but kind of annoying Tootsie Roll pop commercial with the owl trying to count how many licks to get to the center of the pop?

Well, when I first started collecting Upper Deck basketball cards I wondered how many packs I would have to open until I pulled a Michael Jordan autograph. I began opening UD basketball products in 2001. I opened at least one box of every UD NBA product from 2001 through 2004. That's a lot of packs. Products ranged from MVP to SP Game-Used. I really thought they were some of the very best products made during that time frame. I really thought that Sweet Shot was and still is one of the best looking autographed collections ever. My favorite was UD Glass. Those plexi-glass cards are some of the most visually appealing cards ever made. That kind of creativity made me want to work in Carlsbad. However, the cost of living did not.

During those three years I found some great cards, autos of Tony Parker, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, John Stockton, Pat Riley, Reggie Miller to name a few. I found a lot of junkie ones too. Ndudi Ebi stands out as one that I have plenty of and well... check out this article to get an update on where he is playing (at least he IS playing -- hear that Stern?).

So let's look at some numbers. In 2001 alone there were nearly 20 NBA products by UD alone, with one offs, there were more than 20. In 2002 there were 21. You get the picture right? I opened a crap-load of packs and the Jordan consistently evaded me.

Until 2004.

SP Signature was released that year in a tin. The tin contained a great photo of Air Jordan airborne and ready to jam full well knowing he was the greatest of all-time. It included a facsimile of Michael's signature. And that... was the closest I got.

JUST KIDDING! It was the 04-05 tin that contain the imprinted auto.

I opened that 03-04 tin with a feeling in my gut. If you've ever opened a high-end product. You know what I mean. It's a tingly feeling like opening a present on Christmas when you are 5. It's a thrill like pulling a slot machine and winning a jackpot or scratching a lottery ticket and instant winning. It's not as good as sex, and it isn't like the high you get from drugs. It's a unique feeling of finding something great within a pack among common cards and I know collectors all can identify.

I honestly cannot even tell you what else was in the tin because when I peeled back those cards and saw the color of the card and kept inching it back, revealing the last name... N...A...D... I knew what I had. Finally! I had gotten the exact card I wanted to find. Card AS-MJ from the Authentic Signatures insert set contained a early photo of Michael with the Bulls and a really clean autograph on card, no stickers! The card was signed by Michael in front of UD reps and it was from a terrific set.

So while I can't tell you exactly how many packs it took to get to the center of a Michael Jordan autograph, I can tell you it was worth it, every single pack, the time, all of it. Oh, and if that Owl tries to bite my card, I will kick him in the nuts.

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