Saturday, March 7, 2009

2008-09 Topps T-51 Murad Basketball box break/review


I’m going to take a bit of a break from my Dave and Adam’s Card World purchases to keep current and post the box of Murad that I opened on Monday.  The card store near work, Kenmore Collectibles, was running a special promotion where they were buying back unwanted cards from certain years for a penny a piece with a limit of 3200 cards.  So, I boxed up 2700 cards, brought them to work with me in middle of a snowstorm and made a visit to the card shop on my lunch break walking away with a highly desired box of Murad.

I was happy with this box before I opened my first pack due to the box topper that I received.  I got none other than “The Truth” Paul Pierce.  This will go right into my Paul Pierce collection.  Well, once I get something to store it in that is.

I’ve always loved the retro sets that put today’s players in classic designs.  I’ve got UD Authentics, Donruss Originals, Heritage, Ginter, Turkey Red and I can’t wait for the upcoming Upper Deck Lineage set.  Nothing beats those classic Upper Deck designs.

Pierce Getting back to the subject at hand, the Murad design is also a great one.  What I like the most is that it is something unique while still looking nice.  The original set focused on college athletes from a wide range of sports including basketball.  The design included a pennant with the school’s name on it as well as the school’s seal.  Topps did a great job of integrating these design elements into a set focusing solely on NBA stars.  Just look at how the colors pop off of this Paul Pierce short print card from the regular set.  It’s beautiful.  I wish that the cabinet card was a larger version of this card.


Even though the pennant and seal are present on every card, there are a lot of different layouts and styles used throughout the set.  This is most obvious when you compare different cards from the same team.  Since I’m such a homer for the Celtics, I’ll use them as an example.  There’s “Big Baby” Glen Davis over to the right.  His pennant is white and green with white letters while Pierce’s was all green with yellow letters.  The colors on the seal are reversed which works better on the light background of this card.

Another thing that I love about this set is that it isn’t glossy.  If all goes as planned, I shall be posting a picture of this Glen Davis card again on Monday or Tuesday, but it will look a little different and I’ll have to erase one card from my checklist.

The biggest thing that bugs me about many of the sets out there today is all of the short prints and variations out there.  I’d rather have totally different cards.  This set isn’t too bad, but many of the big stars fall in the final 30 cards of the set which are all short prints.  All the short prints do are take the fun out of collecting a set.  I’ve all but given up on Allen & Ginter out of frustration of chasing down short prints historical figures and monuments and getting parallels of the same.  I was relieved to see that the Murad set is all basketball.  There aren’t any Ferris wheels.  There aren’t any authors.  You won’t find the Pac Man champion of the world in here.  What you will find is a sweet subset of veterans that really add something special to the set.


Getting back to the parallels, they fall one in every six packs.  The only problem is that you won’t know when you get them.  Here are two cards of Nets rookie Brook Lopez.  Which one is the base card and which one is the variant?  I would guess that the one on the right is the variant, but I have no way of verifying that.  I want to know what I’m getting when I’m opening my packs.  I don’t want to have to refer to a list to know.



Which one is the variant?  I thought that it was rather strange that I got three sets of rookie base cards and variants.  That takes care of three of the four variants that I should have pulled out of my box.  Which one is the fourth?  I have no clue.  As far as the above pairs go, I’m guessing that the horizontal cards are the variants.


Topps also did a good job with the thick decoy cards.  It’s a 30 card set of regular photos with real backgrounds and everything.  This card is relevant because last month Jesus Shuttlesworth broke the Celtics all-time record for consecutive free throws made.  Larry Bird had the old record with 71 and now Ray Ray has the new record with 72.  Watching this guy drain threes is a treat.


Similar to Allen & Ginter, you bust this stuff to build a set and any hits that you get are a bonus.  You aren’t going to get rich like people think you can with the lottery packs out there.  I pulled a Dirk Nowitzki relic card.  The regular, un-numbered versions of the relic cards aren’t going for much.  People would rather spend more for the versions numbered to 51, 25 and 10.  I should leave a comment over on Mark Cuban's Blog and see if he is interested in the card.


I also pulled a one-in-every-other-box silk card.  The silk cards have been a bit of a pain for collectors because the player names aren’t on the front of the Murad cards.  The silk cards have no back and the frames never have the players name on it to help keep printing and production costs low.  I had to go through the packs that I had opened to figure out that this was Rafer Alston since he’s not a player who I recognize.  This here is the black parallel which is numbered to 25.  My final hit from the box was a Mario Chalmers autograph redemption card.  There’s no way I’m wasting my time scanning a redemption card.  We can all use our imaginations and pretend that a slick looking card produced in time to be packed out is sitting right over there next to this paragraph.  Wow, isn’t it amazing?  Chalmers is having an alright rookie season averaging just under 10 points a game at the moment for the Heat.  They’ve got a young team that’s getting better by the day and have been surprising a lot of people this season.

I had a lot of fun busting open this box.  I give the set an A.  The only thing keeping it from an A+ is the unnecessary short prints and the confusion over the variations.

As far as my box goes, I’ll go ahead and give it an A-.  I beat the odds on the silk card and it is a numbered version.  I got a box loader that I wanted and a good assortment of Celtics.  I didn’t get any doubles which would have been inexcusable within one box.  I don’t even have half of the set at this point, but I’ll buy some lots and singles once they pop up on SportLots.  Maybe I’ll be able to pick up a blaster or two to help complete the set.


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