In my last Spotlight on Cards, I ridiculed the tri-panel 1980-81 Topps basketball cards for being ridiculously small among other things. Today, I am shining the spotlight on the 1976-77 Topps basketball set.
The first thing that jumps out is the size of these cards. These cards are larger than the normal sports card issue, measuring a whopping 3 1/8 x 5 1/4 inches (almost twice as much total area as a regular sports card). Topps had done large basketball cards before, but that was in the earlier days of basketball cards (more on those in a future post).
The size works for and against the cards though. On the plus side is that the extra area size is great for autographs. These cards could easily fit a signature and an inscription courtesy of a bold Sharpie. Unfortunately, a lot of the action shots are dark, which would obscure most autographs, such as the one I got from Phil Jackson.
The action shots are pretty good looking pictures, but there is one other problem. Most of the action photos were taken in Landover (MD) at home games of the Washington Bullets. Therefore, most of the opposing players are Washington Bullets. That is just a bit boring.The large size also makes it harder to store these cards. Normal binder pages are made for 9 cards (3 rows of 3 cards). These big boys require a different storage sheet. Most collectors store their autographed cards by player, not year. Requiring different pages messes up that system.
There are a lot of standard head (and shoulders) shots. While they are a bit more boring in these larger cards, they do provide excellent backdrops for autographs, much better than the action shots.
One last cool feature is on the back of the cards. The college statistics of the player is shown for his entire collegiate career. Unfortunately, that is balanced by the silly "How to Play Basketball" and "Rules of Basketball" feature at the bottom of the cards. Apparently Topps didn't have anything better to put in that extra space.