After producing in relatively small quantities the year before, Topps made sure there was plenty of 1972-73 basketball for everyone. Even today, it’s a relatively easy score, whether you’re collecting cards for a set–or want an unopened pack.
This week’s edition of Vintage Pack Facts from VintageBreaks.com is a look back at the purple pack power of 1972-73 hoops–highlighted by a young kid from UMass who was already making waves with the Virginia Squires.
- Topps had settled into a 264-card routine with its winter sports sets, having secured deals with both the NBA and ABA. The first 176 cards in the basketball set were centered on the NBA, while the ABA brought up the rear. In addition to regular cards, the set included All-Stars, Leaders, Playoffs and checklists for each league.
- Cards were issued in 10 card packs for a dime. It’s not believed any rack or cello packs were made but….
- Topps partnered with Wheaties for a wintertime promotion. For two proofs of purchase and 50 cents, you could obtain a pack of 50 cards, wrapped in cello, from General Mills (you can see one here). The same box offered an uncut sheet of 132 cards for $2 and two POPs. Not a bad investment (and yes, I remember scarfing down enough bowls of Wheaties with my dad to send away for a pack. Sadly, I didn’t eat enough to order a sheet). Today, uncut sheets have sold at auction recently for prices from $3,600 to over $5,000 depending on who is pictured.
- Unopened wax packs are fairly commonplace, with a big supply having originated from Larry Fritsch Cards, which apparently bought out Topps’ unsold stock more than 40 years ago. However, the unopened craze has lifted prices. Unopened boxes have sold for $6,000 and up over the last couple of years.
- Vintage Breaks is offering a pack break on its website now with spots at $45.
- Vending boxes were issued but seem to be very scarce today.
- Julius Erving’s rookie card is, of course, now the prize of this set. A member of the ABA’s Virginia Squires, Erving was in his second pro season and would lead the league in scoring at nearly 32 points per game. A graded, mint example of his rookie card is valued at $3,500 or more with a NM/MT copy typically bringing around $600. There are plenty of nice Ervings in the market but PSA 10s have proven elusive with only one registered. He also has an All-Star card in the set.
- He’s not the only Hall of Fame rookie in ’72-73, though. Artis Gilmore and Phil Jackson make their cardboard debuts as well.
- 1972-73 Topps basketball is plentiful. Over 40,000 have been graded by PSA alone with nearly one-quarter of those rating 9 or 10 on PSA’s Population Report.
You can learn more about participating in vintage pack breaks—or just watch—by visiting VintageBreaks.com.