Upper Deck is heading toward the finish line of its college trading card license with 2014-15 SP Authentic Basketball helping bring down the curtain when it releases on Wednesday, packing three autographs per box, including some of Michael Jordan, LeBron James and other past and present NBA players.
It will be Upper Deck’s last basketball product for the foreseeable future as the company no longer has a complete college trading card license and Panini now owns the NBA exclusive.
SP’s base set of 100 cards consists of four distinct subsets. There are 50 cards of past and present NBA stars, 25 rookies. The rest of the base set is similar to 1997-98 Upper Deck Game Dated, showing famous players and their moments in history. There are 20 Authentic Moments cards and five Authentic Moments Duals.
Those who have collected cards for a long time may notice that the current SP Authentic base card design is consistent with some of the past designs Upper Deck has used. 1998-99 SP Authentic Basketball used a design that featured an oval pattern behind the player as well as using the player’s jersey number on the card and today’s SP Authentic is a new design but also has similar qualities.
The front of the base card uses a picture from a college game and highlights the player with a circular pattern and by blocking out most of the background play. The player’s uniform number appears in the lower left corner and the SP Authentic logo is in the top right.
The Regular and Rookie Extended cards that make up three quarters of the base set share a similar design but different colors. The Authentic Moments and Authentic Moments Duals share a borderless card design with a picture and information from a famous NCAA Tournament game. Examples of these cards include Danny Manning putting KU on his back and leading them to the title and also the epic game of Larry Bird versus Magic Johnson in Salt Lake City in 1979.
Upper Deck makes use of its exclusives with Michael Jordan and LeBron James, including both among on the autograph checklist that also includes Shaquille O’Neal, Bird, Magic, Julius Erving, Stephen Curry, Aaron Gordon, Mitch McGary, T.J. Warren and Elfrid Payton. Chicago Bulls fans can not only find a signed Jordan card but Nikola Mirotic too.
Every box of SP Authentic will include one Future Watch Rookie Autograph card with some numbered to 475 and others to 175. There are also many different types of Rookie Extended Series Autograph Parallel cards. Limited Rookies Auto Patch cards are available in two versions, numbered to 50 and 25. There are also Limited Autograph and Patch cards with older players on them, like Penny Hardaway.
In the Sign of the Times Dual Autographs insert set, which is in 1 of every 280 packs, Jordan and Erving share a card. Sign of the Times has singles, duals and triple autographs. Jordan signed only three cards in the Immortal Ink set, making it one of the toughest to find. Also very rare is the Limited Authentic Moments Duals Gold Autograph Parallel cards that are 1 in 3,360 packs, and there is a card signed by both Bird and Magic in that insert set.
Marks of Distinction, Limited Autograph Variation, SP Chirography and Rookie Chirography are more autographs found in SP Authentic packs. 2014-15 SP Authentic also has a few cards with signatures of non-basketball subjects. Numbered to 10, the LeBron James 03-04 SPA Tribute Autographs are signed by the likes of Johnny Manziel, Maria Sharapova, Danica Patrick and Georges St-Pierre.
You can see 2014-15 Upper Deck SP basketball boxes for sale on eBay here.