Ten years after the ground breaking debut, 2013-14 Exquisite Basketball from Upper Deck is scheduled to arrive this Wednesday with autographs of some of the NBA’s biggest names but also cards that commemorate the very first release of the ultra-high end basketball product. There are also cards that will be a shoo-in to be among the thickest cards in any collection.
Expect to pay $550-600 per box with each card having six cards, all with low print runs. Even each base card is serial numbered to no more than 75. A full checklist is linked below.
LeBron James rookie autograph patch cards put jet fuel into the profile of that 2003-04 Exquisite launch. His most-expensive rookie card has his picture on the top half of the card, below that was a memorabilia patch shaped as the letter R and under that was his autograph. Upper Deck has brought back that card design for the new Exquisite and called them Exquisite 03-04 Tribute Autograph cards. As Upper Deck still works up Exquisite without an NBA license, the LeBron card has a picture and game-used patch from his St. Vincent – St. Mary Fighting Irish high school team. Upper Deck purchased a game-worn James high school jersey at auction last year and has cut it up for use in this year’s Exquisite product and presumably future releases. There are 35 total James cards available.
It isn’t just players from the draft class of 2003 who get a card with the Tribute design, however. Jordan and other players who were drafted before and after that inaugural year are also part of this insert set.
Jordan and James are also two highlights in the new Signature Kicks cards. Around half an inch thick, they’ll have an autograph as well as a premium swatch from the type of shoe that the player is famous for. The Jordan cards have pieces of Air Jordan XIII and Air Jordan V cards. Some cards come with laces, others have the shoe logo or a multi-colored segment. Monumental Laces, Monumental Logos and Jumbos are some of the names for the different types of Signature Kicks.
Some of the other players in the shoe set include Larry Bird, Julius Erving, Grant Hill, David Robinson and Tim Hardaway. There is even a signed card from a blue-haired Dennis Rodman that features a piece of an Air Way Up shoe. Upper Deck says they put “over 16 months of research and development” into creating Signature Kicks, which has gotten some attention from large basketball shoe-focused websites.
Every box of 2013-14 Exquisite will have, on average, five autographed cards. Some of the other insert sets that include autographs are Exquisite Rookie Auto Patch, Rookie Limited Logos Autographs, Rookie Autograph Variation, Exquisite Signatures and Dimensions Signatures. Expect one Autographed rookie Patch card per box. All of the signed cards have low print runs and there are also 1 of 1 versions of some.
Sumo wrestlers have traditionally dipped their hand in paint and then pressed that onto a piece of paper for their fans to collect. Upper Deck managed to bring this idea to basketball cards after using it in their Authenticated memorabilia line. The Exquisite Tegata Signature Impressions cards have a thumbprint from the player and their autograph written over that. These cards, signed with a red pen, are numbered to 10.
Something that Exquisite Collection didn’t have when it was released in 2003-04 were booklets but they are once again prominent in the new Exquisite set. The Game Face Autograph Booklets and Game Face Dual Autograph Booklets open up to reveal an autograph, or two, in gold ink. There are also Year of the Horse Autograph Booklets with a print run of 15.
Exquisite has some rookie autographs but of course, the players will be in their collegiate uniforms. All are numbered to 99. Shabazz Napier, Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton are three of the rookies who have deals with Upper Deck for signed cards.
Upper Deck has tried to be creative with its design and picture selection in an apparent effort to keep Exquisite from appearing too much like a college-focused product this year. While the base card for Michael Jordan in new Exquisite is a very old picture of a very young Jordan, many of the UD Signature Kicks and some other cards have a much newer picture of a balder Jordan that fans are more familiar with.
The base cards in the set are numbered to 75, and they also have parallels. Reds are numbered to 7, Orange to 6, Yellow to 5, Green to 4, Blue to 3, Indigo to 2 and Violet is the 1 of 1.
Exquisite is a product made for those who collect premium autograph and memorabilia cards, and for those who want new autographs of Michael Jordan and LeBron James which cannot be found in basketball card products from other manufacturers. You can see 2013-14 Exquisite on eBay here.