1971-1972 topps basketball cards

This is a reference guide for collecting the Topps 1971-72 basketball set, including overview of the players and rookie cards.

Old School collectors wanting to put together a great set of basketball cards loaded with stars and rookies need to look no further than the Topps 1971-72 set. This 233-card set is reasonably priced at $750, considering that only a handful of older basketball sets exist. The set was introduced the same year I began collecting and holds a special place in my heart. Yet do not let my obvious bias prevent you from enjoying what has turned out to be a truly great set for collectors. Listed below are some of best features of this set.

Rookie Cards:

Getting a boost from the terrific college draft of the prior year, this set is load with rookies who went on to have stellar careers in the NBA. Among the rookies included in the set are Dave Cowens, Rick Barry, Nate Archibald, Dave Issel, and Bob Lanier.

Dave Cowens:

Hall of Famer Dave Cowens was an integral part of the Boston Celtics of the 1970's. A co-winner of the NBA's rookie of the year his first season, Dave added a league MVP award and two NBA titles along the way. Cowens' card is number #47 and books for $40.

Rick Barry:

Rick Barry, the "˜granny style" free throw shooting forward is featured in this set as part of the New York Nets of the ABA. Barry, who won scoring titles for both the NBA and the ABA and a title with the Warriors of Golden State, graces card # 170. The card books for a modest $50.

Nate Archibald:

Nicknamed "Tiny" for his diminutive stature, Nate Archibald is the only player in NBA history to lead the league in both assists and scoring average in the same season. Archibald pictured in this set as part of the Kansas City Kings, later when on to play for the Boston Celtics. Archibald's card is number #25 and books for $25. Finding the card in mint condition though is a tough chore.

Dan Issel:

A star in college at Kentucky and then again in the ABA with the Kentucky Colonels, Issel lead the league in scoring his rookie year. The 6'-9" center/forward was later part of some high scoring Denver Nugget teams in the NBA. Dan appears on card #200, which is currently listed at $30.

Bob Lanier:

This gentle giant with the biggest sneakers in the NBA was a star college player for St. Bonaventure. While in the pros, Lanier was the heart and soul of the Detroit Pistons throughout the 70's and later the Milwaukee Bucks in the 80's. Often over shadowed by the great centers of his era, Lanier was never the less a star of epic proportion with the shoe size to match. Lanier is featured on card # 63, which books for $40.


Equally as impressive as the selection of rookies in this set is the selection of star players available. This set includes such Hall of Fame notables as Wilt Chamberlin, Lew Alcinder, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, and John Havlicek.

Wilt Chamberlin:

The most dominate player of his generation and perhaps the most under appreciated, the towering center is featured in this set as part of a star studded Los Angeles Laker team. Chamberlin, the holder of a multitude of scoring and rebounding records in the NBA, once scored 100 points in a contest. He appears on card #70, which is currently listed for $50.

Oscar Robertson:

Most basketball player considered a triple double in a game a great feat. Oscar Robertson once averaged a triple double over the course of a single season. A skilled passer, scorer and rebounder, Oscar appears on the set's first card. This makes the card hard to find in mint condition. Oscar's card is listed for $40.

Lew Alcinder:

Back before he was Kareem Abdul-Jabber, he was simply known as Lew Alcinder. Lew whose rookie card appears two years earlier, is pictured with his first team the Milwaukee Bucks. Alcinder lead the Bucks to an NBA title before jumping over to the team he is best known for, the L.A. Lakers. This former UCLA star is found on card #100 and books for $50.

John Havlicek:

A perpetual motion machine whose hustle on both ends of the court made the Boston Celtics one of the best teams of the decade, John Havlicek was a perennial All-Star who scored over 26.000 points in his career. John's card books for $30 and is # 30.

Jerry West:

The player whose silhouette is on the NBA logo, Jerry West was nicknamed "Mr. Clutch" for his play during crucial games. Jerry averaged over 29 points a game during the play-offs over the span of his career. His card is #35 and books for $30.

Other Stars:

Other stars worth noting in this set include, Elgin Baylor (#10), Pete Maravich (#55), Elvin Hayes (#120), Walt Frazier (#65), Earl Monroe (#130), and Willis Reed (#30). The cards for most of these stars are priced between $6 and $40.

The ABA Players:

One of the best things about this set is the amount of players from the now defunct ABA that are found in it. This was the first Topps' sets to feature ABA players, and such notable players as Bill Paultz (RC), Willie Wise, Mel Dampier, and Zelmo Beaty are included.

While I have listed the book value for the main rookies and stars, always remember most individual cards can usually be found for 25%-50% of their book value, so with a little bit of luck and patience, this great set could be assembled for under its listed price.

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