It’s been over a year now since Fanatics took over Topps. Now, another potentially significant licensing move could be in the works. At least that’s what a well connected NBA beat writer is suggesting.
Shams Charania, lead NBA insider for The Athletic, indicated on social media that he’d been told Fanatics would be making Topps branded basketball cards beginning in the 2023-24 season.
Fun development: Fanatics is launching basketball cards under its Topps brand beginning with the 2023-24 NBA season, industry sources say.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 4, 2023
Panini currently holds the NBA and NBA Players Association rights to produce cards for the league in a deal that’s currently scheduled to expire in 2026. In order for Fanatics to begin making cards for NBA players and teams in 2023-24, they’d have to somehow acquire that license. Fanatics bought Topps in 2022, assuming the licensing for Major League Baseball.
Fanatics has been making basketball cards under the Bowman brand and featuring college players through the new NIL rules. They also recently released a Topps Chrome product produced in cooperation with the 2022 McDonald’s All-American basketball games. It’s possible the Topps branded cards could involve non-current NBA players.
There haven’t been any Topps branded NBA cards since the 2009-10 season, the company’s final year as a league licensee. Since then, Topps has introduced several new brands in baseball, which could reasonably be expected to be produced under any new deal. The brand collectors would likely be most excited to see is Topps Chrome.
Should Fanatics produce basketball cards for active players next season, they would likely have the opportunity to include French star Victor Wembayana. The 7’2 teenager is generally considered the most anticipated prospect since LeBron James. Having the opportunity to produce cards of a player with the potential to be a generational talent could well be a strong motivating factor for Fanatics, but at this point Fanatics hasn’t made any announcements regarding any Topps branded basketball cards for the 2023-24 season.