Professional sports are a young man’s game. As much as aging veterans push the envelope through modern medicine, technology, nutrition, and other advancements adding time to their careers, leagues are mostly filled with 19-year-olds, 20 somethings, and those who’ve managed to stay healthy enough to last into their 30s.
The 1994-95 Fleer Young Lion set focused on some of the NBA’s influx of youthful talent.
This pride of Young Lions was randomly inserted into all Series 2 boxes at a rate of 1 in 5 packs.
All of the cubs in the set had three or fewer years of experience in the league, hence the young designation.
The front of the card features an upper body action shot of the player that takes up one half of the face of the card. The opposite half of the card features a huge lion head staring straight ahead. In the bottom left or right hand corner, there lies a full-bodied foil lion logo with the words Young Lion and the player’s name below. It’s a pretty intense and notable card design by early 1990’s standards.
The card backs feature more of a full-length action shot of the player on one side with the same intense line working underneath a text box that explains why the player featured is such a beast on the other half of the card.
The first card in the set features Milwaukee Bucks forward/center Vin Baker. Baker stretched the floor and was a bit ahead of his time as far as his size and particular skillset, making him a clear choice as one of the future stars of the game.
Baker averaged nearly 18 points and over 10 rebounds per game that season, earning the first of four straight NBA All-Star Game apperances.
Orlando Magic superstar guard Anfernee Hardaway is the second card found in YL. Penny is seen finishing at the rim with the intense lion and lion logo on the left-hand side of the card. Penny averaged over 20 points per game in 1994-95, also earning his first of four straight ASG nods.
A young Larry Johnson is featured next. The Charlotte Hornets power forward was an incredibly dominant force early on his career, so much so that he drew early comparisons to all time great Charles Barkley. Not only was the 1992 NBA Rookie of the Year a promising player on court, he was one of the more popular players off of it thanks in part to his unique Converse sneaker campaign.
A young lion if there ever was one, Johnson’s teammate, Charlotte Hornets center Alonzo Mourning, is the next card in the six card set. Mourning played ferocious defense throughout his career and developed into a high level offensive threat. There was no one more intense in the NBA jungle than Zo. The Georgetown product averaged over 20 points per game, just a tick under 10 rebounds per game while blocking three shots per contest in 1994-95.
The king of the jungle Orlando Magic center of Shaquille O’Neal is the fifth card in the offering. As ferocious of a dunker and finisher as the league has ever seen and a dominant force on the defensive end, Shaq’s roars were louder than any other player on the court.
The 1993-94 NBA rookie of the year Chris Webber is the final card in this small set. Already in his Washington Bullets uniform, Webber drew comparisons to some of the greatest to ever lace them up with size speed touch and an all around game that was hard to deal with, CWebb was The first rookie in league history to score a 1,000 points, grab 500 rebounds, dish 250 assists, reject 150 shots and swipe 75 steals. It was a testament that he could really do it all.
Collectors can buy this entire set for not much more than the change in their pocket, so there’s not any real monetary value here. What there is here is an early 1990s example of a company just getting their feet wet in the insert set and insert set design game, all will trying to navigate the new space and push the envelope to the heights we see today.