Panini Elite Basketball Review

I would have to find a magic scanner to properly show off the shine that 2009/’10 Panini Elite Basketball gives off. The base cards as you can see, feature an old, familiar design element which you either love or hate.

Some of the highlights of the brand include hard to find die-cut parallels (pulled two), and some great inserts including ‘Clutch Performers’, which looks like something from the mid-90’s.

The legendary Elite Series inserts makes a return but unlike 1991 when a card numbered to 10,000 was unheard of, in today’s hobby scene it just doesn’t work. There are different versions but in the end it’s just not the same.

Unlike other Panini releases, the relics seem somewhat out-of-place in this brand. Instead of separate designs for relics, Panini just used them in existing cards including the great ‘Clutch Performer’ insert. As you can see from the scan, it ruined the design.

Elite Basketball is pre-selling for nearly $100 dollars. At that price, I’d have to recommend other less expensive basketball releases including their flagship. Elite has proven to be a strong performer for Donruss but the design is one of the reasons I am looking forward to Studio so much.

If you love Donruss’ futuristic designs, with four “hits” per box and lots of serial numbered cards and parallels, you will love Elite Basketball. If the price drops $10-$15 per box, it should be a must-buy for basketball collectors and “MOJO-hunters” alike.


Current price – $94 pre-sell at

Guarantees – 100 cards with four autographs or relics

Look for – Die-Cut autographs, Elite patch/autographs

The Good:

Strong design on inserts and parallels

Lots of serial numbered cards

The Bad:

Relics feel really out-of-place

Elite Series missing magic of 90’s original


Relic – Lebron James #’d to 99

Relic -Paul Pierce #’ to 299

Autograph – Jonny Flynn #’d to 499

Autograph – DaJuan Summers  #’d to 499

Final Grade: B-



  1. “Mojo-hunters”? Cmon dude.

    Also, nice pull with the second flynn auto in two boxes. I hate the looks of these cards, especially those jersey cards and the mirror foil, but you had some nice ones.

  2. Like the set always like the elite product, jersey cards need to be desired but to me this all about the base. Love that ELite subset back….

  3. “Unlike other Panini releases, the relics seem somewhat out-of-place in this brand.”
    Have you seen the relice placement in their football products?

  4. ewwww….the relics really do look out-of-place. unless panini wanted it to look like lebron was wearing a speedo. if that’s the case, they nailed it.

    sarcasm aside, i HATE sticker autos but ESPECIALLY these Elite stickers. not only is the sticker itself “busy” but the placement is horrible, too. it looks like they designed and produced the cards first, then decided last minute to put the sticker autos on.

    out-of-place relics and autos = i’m not buying any of this

  5. Mario. I still need your mailing address. I have a stack of cards and other stuff sitting here with your name on it. -OC

  6. Getting tired of the sticker auto just placed over the cards. They did this with the baseball release also. It is a great design for the base cards, but it doesn’t work for the relic and auto.

    When you have to look at the card a few times to see it has an auto on it, then it is poorly designed. Not enough contrast for the auto to stand out. It seems like Topps Bowman Chrome is one of the only brand that ensure that the auto stands out. The auto needs to jump out at you.

    When it looks like they used an exacto knife to cut out the relic, then it is poorly designed. Do these types of relic add value? Not to me.

    Why would I want to spend $100 on this? I have seen home made relic cards and TTM that look better then this.

    This is not a product that I would buy. And it not because it doesn’t scan well 🙂

  7. stickers or not, I’ve been waiting for something that I collected because of base style, and again bring back the subset elite, made it a gotta have, elite is back, you up UD please do something with fleer…

  8. OK, stickers and relics aside, I like the general look of the set.

    First the bad; I don’t like the background on the base cards. It’s a nice background, but I get the feeling that looking at this set in a binder would be painful. Some variety would have been good. Also, the white line around the players sets them off from the background, but in my experience, that is just a lazy way to keep from having to work hard making the set pop. -1 points, not like the points matter.

    Now the good; I like the simple but classy black. The die cut parallels adding subtle color on the sides is nice too. I like the backgrounds on the inserts too, but think they might get repetitive in the long run.

    Overall, I like the set. It probably won’t do great at it’s price point (not in my range anyway), but a fairly good effort.

  9. “Unlike other Panini releases, the relics seem somewhat out-of-place in this brand.”
    Have you seen the relice placement in their football products?

    I thought the exact same thing.

  10. Not at all wow’ed by this release (total review is 6.9/10)… too vanilla and no one feature is likeable enough for me justify spending $90+ per box… With sticky autos I would expect an above par design but this is still lacking a bit… The GU cards arent to attractive(should have a seperate design). Never been a big fan of using too much black on base cards but Panini did an excellent job on this(other parts of the design is bahhh, can’t point out exatcly what it is?). I guess others might be hooked on the sure 4 hits and the high #ed cards but I’m still on the fence on this one .

  11. I do not care for the dark color involved. Especially if my mintor does not deceive me, black. The patches are out of place or shall I say the crotch patches. Even the signatures hide under the heavy colors so you cannot even see them. I know some of it will be loss due to my crappy monitor, but it is a less than desireable design.

  12. Ok as I mentioned in a different review, sticker autos over the top of solid colors look just fine… this product provides the perfect example of how they do not look good over the top of multiple surfaces… keep on top of one color and you are good… just a hint!!!

    Aside from that I REALLY like the die cut, it has definitely been missed by me lately and this is a pretty cool one, the way that the cut follows the border on the card.

    The ‘clutch performers’ cards look ridiculous, and not in a good way! They look like a little kid aimed insert… and I know that Elite is not aimed as a cheap product. What is it about stars in the background that provides the sense of “clutch” find a picture of them hitting a shot with the scoreboard lit up red or stealing the ball in the waning moments… and tell the story… don’t put a picture up of them in front of stars

    overall i would give it C+ with bonus points for putting the serial on the front! I like that!

  13. Overall I always ranked Donruss/ Panini as a far below Upper Deck and Topps and this year seems no different. Every year the Donruss/ Panini products feel the same. To me this is a bad thing. That is why I am beginning to hate Allen and Ginter. With that being said I like this design more so than Prestige or Rookies and Stars. I probably will buy a pack or two to see the cards in person.

    I echo what other said. Donruss/ Panini is becoming notorious of just putting a sticker for autos and jersey windows on base cards. Even Topps/ Upper Deck base set has a separate designs for their hits. This is just them being lazy and this practice even make their good products are little worst like Donruss Americana.

  14. This actually look like the Best base brand that Panini has put out in its Basketball excursion. Agreed the autographs don’t stand out. I like the Lebron Card jersey card with the card design same as the base set. Clutch Performance subset looks like it was made by a 9 year old.

  15. Those boxes will be pretty well out of my price range, so like you said, I might look to but the lower end releases. Nonetheless, these cards are very nice, the design is very interesting and you pulled some huge players for relics as opposed to no-names, plus serial-numbered cards are always nice.

  16. This set looks overall pretty medicore at best. The laziness of the LeBron jersey shows, just put in a jersey into a place where there shouldn’t really be a jersey in. Most/all of the inserts that they put into this are rather cool and neat. My main complant is that the autos almost seem to get lost in the background of the card. The auto is really difficult to see.

  17. As a teacher, during conferences it’s always important to start off with the positives to let the parent know that you don’t hate their child… you just think there’s room for improvement. Well, I’m not in the classroom right now, so I’m going to do the exact opposite.

    Let’s start off with the negatives, so that we can end on a positive note. I really dislike the design of the Clutch Performers “jersey” card. I think the jeresy was just thrown onto the card and poorly placed. If you check out the upper box on the left hand side of this insert set, you can see there was obviously some wasted space on the design of this card. They should have used this space towards the middle of the card and inserted the jersey there.

    The other major thing I dislike about this product is their use of sticker autos. I know it’s something we’re all expected to live with, but the autograph tends to blend in with the background of the card.

    On the flipside, I personally enjoyed the other jersey card (the Lebron). Well not exactly, but it has potential. I don’t like the fact that the dark swatch is difficult to see on the card. However, had they used a white swatch it would have been acceptable in my book.

    Last, but not least… remember, I’m going to end on a positive note. I love the base design and the diecut parallels. It exactly what I expect from an Elite product. The shiny silver foil, along with the red, rectangular logo is awesome and it actually reminds me of some of their products of the 90’s.

    Here’s the breakdown of their report card. They received a D- in the area of autographs. Their inserts (Clutch Performers and jersey cards) were average, so they received a grade of C. But the thing that helped them out the most is the classic base card design. I gave them an A in that area.

    Overall, I’d give this product an overall grade of a C+. It’s not great, but it’s not bad either. In fact, I’d say it’s a little above average, but not ready to compete with the big dogs. I don’t think it’s worth the $94/box, but when it drops down into the $50 range, I’ll be sure to buy a few boxes and build the base set (with hopes of possibly landing a Jennings auto).

  18. I agree with a lot of the posters here – the stuff really doesn’t look that nice for the cost. I bought a pack or two of the Elite football stuff and it was less than impressive, and this looks the same to me. That said, you pulled some really nice hits here. As a Massachusetts born guy who then lived in Ohio for a bit, I’d love to win these cards!

  19. I don’t think the elite design works well in football. It is too dark and the photo area is too small. I like action shots on my bball cards and you just don’t get it here.

    I think Elite is best used as a baseball prospect set.

    I do like the idea of the “clutch” insert set. It is such a cool idea, but the execution don’t hit in this set.

  20. Hey what have you done with the Flynn auto cards because i am building a personal collection of him and am looking to aquire his cards.

    Also i feel sticker autos are a waste. They appear like they are signed on card but it is just fake. I have seen a few of those Die cut cards and they look quite nice. Nice change from the very similar base sets throughout panini’s set this year. And if your looking for a good blog site checkout

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