Upper Deck, Topps respond to N.B.A!

The following statement was sent to Wax Heaven by Topps:

“We’ve had a strong relationship with the NBA, but the deal they made with Panini does not make economic sense for Topps. It may be great for the NBA, but the value wasn’t there for us and we’ve decided to invest elsewhere for the time being. We wish our colleagues at the NBA well and look forward to working with them in the future.”

The following statement is on Upper Deck’s website:

While Upper Deck is disappointed with the NBA’s decision to grant exclusive trading card rights to a new licensee, they are reinforcing their commitment to producing the highest quality, most innovative and value-rich basketball products.

“Our focus remains on delivering great products to the loyal collectors and consumers who have passionately supported Upper Deck basketball products. We are confident the remaining 2008-09 NBA sets will be some of the best our industry has ever seen,” said Upper Deck’s VP of Sports Bernd Becker.

Upper Deck was granted a license to produce NBA trading cards in 1991 and shortly thereafter became the dominant market share leader in the category. They currently hold exclusive, multi-year autograph contracts with Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett.

Specific plans for the remaining 2008-2009 Upper Deck basketball brands will be announced in the coming weeks.

10 thoughts on “Upper Deck, Topps respond to N.B.A!

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  1. what a day, what a day!
    Topps and Upper Deck and Donruss… oh my!

    Mario, are you sure this isn’t April Fools Day?

  2. The more I think about it, this is acutally a very shrewd move by the NBA, especially if Topps and UD were lowballing new licensing agreements.

    Keep in mind that probably 30-40% of NBA players are now from places outside North America, and that Pannini’s worldwide distribution system and name recognition are second to none.

    Most people seem to know them only as sticker producers, but they have also been producing some pretty high-quality soccer cards since the mid-90’s, including cards for both the 2002 and 2006 soccer World Cups. I’m at work now, but will send Mario scans of some of these cards when I get home tonight for him to post on the blog (they are much nicer than the example he posted earlier on the other thread).

    In all likelihood, the NBA has decided that with the North American market being oversaturated, they are going to focus on developing new card markets elsewhere in the world. Yes, not being able to include autographs from LeBron, Kobe, MJ, and KG will hurt a bit, but Pannini will still be able to produce cards with these players on them. And with a worldwide focus, autographs of players from other countries may be just as popular anyway. How about Tony Parker for France, Manu Ginobili for Argentina, Yao Ming for China, and legends cards of Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria) and Patrick Ewing (Jamaica), for example.

  3. i dont collect much basketball, but should be interesting to see what happens

    i wonder if NBA cards will stay as popular in the USA.

    just so you know, a google news search of “panini NBA” links to your page, via examiner

  4. Panini?

    Good luck to the NBA on that. I can hear crickets chirping during a discussion of the future of basketball trading cards in the very near future.

    I think by looking at the junk on Ebay, that the design team for Panini is hopefully colorblind and semi-retarded. Well hopefully that is the case, because it would be the only reasonable excuse for the way that shit looks.

    Big step up for the Panini folks. I bet distribution on this crap will be awful.

    On a positive note, Panini should be bankrupt in a few years from this licensing deal and I won’t have to think about them ever again.

  5. I agree with mfw13. High end, low end, whatever, the NBA is light years ahead of MLB and the NFL in terms of having a global brand. Panini has a global distribution network that can best take the NBA’s product to non-US markets. Let’s say they lose out on high end collectors in the US and produce a cheap junk product no one here will buy. On the other hand, one of the ways they’ve replaced that market is with with 1/4 billion Chinese school kids who idolize Yao Ming and can afford cheap cards. Same goes for people on other continents who currently don’t collect. At some point emphasis will swing back to the high end stuff on a massive scale, but the NBA is just looking to push the brand forward and expand into other untapped markets.

  6. I’m confused… All upcoming NBA cards will be canceled? What does this mean to all the old cards previously made?

  7. jmike – It means that unopened basketball product from 08-09 back will be going up in price. Especially if Panini decides not to sub-contract production through Donruss for the US market, and ends up producing a product that would be considered sub-standard in the US.
    It also means that autographed cards by Kobe, LeBron, MJ, Garnett, etc will become more exclusive and expensive, especially if their contracts with Upper Deck don’t include an escape clause in case UD loses licensing privileges.
    Hell, who knows, maybe Panini will start producing an EXQUISITE level product!!! HAHAHA – not likely.

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