In reporting, sometimes the real story is buried well under the lead. When one looks back at sports cards in the rearview mirror, the original importance of some cards evolves to a whole new meaning. One of these cards which has gone through this type of evolution is the 1989 Hoops David Robinson.
When this card was first released in packs, it seemed as is every customer wanted one and was willing to pay a significant premium for fresh, mint, centered examples. However, what made it even more interesting in retrospect is how this card played a role in changing sports card history just as many of the football cards issued by Pro Set and Score a quarter century ago.
The reason for that was the David Robinson card was the first card to feature a player in his actual rookie season since the 1970-71 Topps oversized set had featured both Pete Maravich and Calvin Murphy during their first years. Both Maravich and Murphy had garnered a ton of publicity during their college careers and kids were excited to get any items featuring these players. However, there would not be another player to be pictured during his rookie year until Hoops grabbed a photo of Robinson holding his jersey at a press conference and made it a big part of their marketing.
The reason this was even possible under any rules was Robinson had been selected #1 overall back in 1987 and thus had been a member of the San Antonio Spurs organization from that point although he would not start receiving his paychecks until 1989 once his Navy commitment had ended.
And of course Robinson was an instant sensation on the court so collectors, then used to buying rookie cards and playing along with the hype, went looking through the easily searchable Hoops packs to try to find a Robinson card. The 1989-90 Hoops packs were so transparent that you could look right through easily and see what card was on top of the pack. And if you really studied pack collation, you could see the top card and figure out whether Robinson was in those packs.
Those who bought boxes or loved to collect something during the winter months (back when sports card product releases did actually mirror the seasons) were just glad that basketball cards had become relevant again. A dormant market was beginning to take off and it had a trickle down effect on vintage basketball cards, too.
Hoops did a second series during the season and included a new Robinson card showing him in action. Today, both can be had for next to nothing on eBay so it seems hard to believe that the 1989-90 Hoops David Robinson was the hottest card on the market at one time–even hotter than any Michael Jordan card as MJ was still a year plus away from winning his first of six NBA championships.