12 NBA players say Topps reneged on a contract to provide a set number of autographs for its trading card products once Panini became the league’s official card.
How much Topps was willing to pay for certain NBA players’ autographs is just one of the interesting tidbits to come out of a lawsuit filed last week in New York on behalf of 12 athletes who say the company owes them money.
Attorneys representing Derrick Rose, Brandon Roy, Tracy McGrady and others claim that Topps must honor an obligation to pay them for a certain number of autographs they agreed to sign last year.
The lawsuit filed in New York says that between February and September of 2008, the players entered into an arrangement to sign between 500 and 10,000 autographs at fees ranging from $3 to $50 each. Topps apparently supplied some of the cards needed for the players to sign, but then notified them in March of this year that it no longer wanted the original number of signatures and would only be paying for those that had already been signed by the players. Two months earlier, the NBA had agreed to an exclusive arrangement with Panini to become the NBA’s sole trading card provider beginning in the fall of this year, ending Topps’ NBA license.
The suit is seeking $298,560 in money it claims the players are owed, plus attorney’s fees, costs and interest.
Rose, who had yet to be drafted by the Chicago Bulls when he signed the deal with Topps in May of last year, stands to lose the most according to the suit. The Memphis All-American agreed to sign 10,000 cards for Topps at a price of $25 each. Court papers obtained by Sports Collectors Daily indicate Rose signed 5500 items and attorneys claim that leaves him with a balance due of $112,500. According to the suit, McGrady was paid the most per autograph–$50 for 1,000 items. He signed 250, leaving $37,500 unpaid whlie Roy signed 3,000 of 5,000 at $18 each and is owed $36,000.
Also listed as plaintiffs in the suit and the number of autographs they agreed to sign according to the court papers are D.J. Augustin (4,000 autographs at $8 each), T.J. Ford (500 autographs at $6 each), Danilo Gallinari (4,000 autographs at $10 each), Antawn Jamison (500 autographs at $10 each), DeAndre Jordan (4,000 autographs at $3 each), Brook Lopez (4,000 autographs at $8 each), Robin Lopez (4,000 autographs at $5 each), Anthony Randolph (4,000 autographs at $7 each) and Russell Westbrook (2,000 autographs at $12 each). The players are listed as having signed roughly half of the original number in the agreement except for Jamison and Ford, who were contracted to sign only 500, but did not sign any, nor were they paid by Topps.
For collectors, the suit would seem to indicate that coveted autographs of Rose and Roy, while not rare, won’t be as plentiful as once thought.