His autographs haven’t appeared inside NBA trading card packs nearly 15 years but that’s about to change. Panini America announced a deal with Hall of Famer Charles Barkley on Tuesday, ending the long drought. Collectors will begin seeing Barkley’s autograph on randomly inserted “Spotlight Signatures” autograph cards inside its 2017-18 Noir product, which is being released this week.
The “Round Mound of Rebound” has also signed basketballs, jerseys, prints, and other items Panini will sell in its online store.
“Adding Charles Barkley as an exclusive athlete is a significant achievement and will go down as a key milestone in our business since Panini entered the U.S. market and became the exclusive trading card partner of the NBA in 2009,” said Panini America CEO Mark Warsop in a statement.
Barkley, who has” saved numerous items from his college and NBA careers and his tenure with the legendary 1992 Olympic ‘Dream Team’ had rebuffed earlier attempts by trading card companies. This time, the price was apparently right and he became impressed with the quality of the cards now as opposed to when he was a player in the 1980s and 90s.
“I’ve been approached probably 20 times in the past 20 years,” Barkley told Sports Illustrated. “I’ve always resisted, but everybody is doing it now so I might as well join in. I’m trying to give the fan a little treat. It ain’t like in the old days when you just got some crappy basketball card and that was it. When I was signing these cards, I was saying, ‘Damn, these ain’t my daddy’s trading cards.”
Noir’s Spotlight Signatures cards will chronicle his life in basketball, from his days as a star at Auburn through his 16-year NBA career with Philadelphia, Phoenix and Houston. Each of the ten cards in the set will be numbered to 15.
Seven of the ten cards inside boxes of 2017-18 Noir basketball contain autographs and/or memorabilia pieces. Boxes are available online at around $500.
Barkley will also appear in 2017-18 Opulence, Impeccable and Vanguard and in 2018-19 Immaculate and Flawless Collegiate basketball products.