Over the years, I’ve gathered up more than a few NBA-related items. By more than a few… I mean more than a few. I suppose you can consider me a collector of all things NBA. I don’t really care what it is; if it’s got something to do with a favorite player of mine, I’ll buy it. I’ve got tons of your typical items; a jersey collection, boxes of cards, bobbleheads, all of that. I’ve also got some more unique stuff, such as a snow globe, an autographed napkin, and game worn sneakers.
This afternoon, I decided to go on an archeological dig of sorts. You see, most of my NBA artifacts have been stored in big, plastic tubs. Over time, some of these tubs have moved to the bottom of the stack. Things that I need to access more often migrate to the top of the piles. So, I don’t see my NBA stuff all that often because, unfortunately, I don’t really have a place, or the means, to properly display it yet. Some day I hope to have a room in my home that serves as an NBA time capsule. I’ve got the contents… I just need a suitable capsule. Until I can afford a house the collection will remain buried in the Rubbermaid tubs.
Every once in a while–maybe once a year or so–I like to sift through some of my stuff. I pull out a tub, take out some stuff, and take a trip down memory lane. Earlier today, the mood struck me. I opened up the closet doors and did a little digging. Here are a few of the things that I uncovered. Click the photos to make them bigger.
Assorted NBA tokens
What: Remember Pogs? These are kind of like those… except they’ve got NBA players–such as Jason Richardson, Monta Ellis, Jermaine O’Neal, Charlie Villanueva, and Morris Peterson on ‘em. The J-Rich one is some sort of limited edition… it’s numbered out of 399 on the back.
Where: For a pretty short period of time they sold these at all the same places you could get NBA cards.
Why: I already had lots of cards… so I went for a few packages of these little thingies.
Matt Barnes, Stromile Swift, and Keon Clark bobbleheads
What: Bobbleheads. Dur.
Why: Keon Clark? Because he was the sh!t. Matt Barnes? Because he personified the grit of my favorite NBA team of all-time, the ’06/07 Golden State Warriors. I wish he was wearing a Warriors jersey, but I had to take what I could get… I think this was the only Matt Barnes collectible ever manufactured. Stromile Swift? Because he’s my favorite player ever! This was my first bobblehead, and the reason I set up an Ebay account. I think I got it when I was 16. I remember it went something like this: I couldn’t be home when the auction ended, so my mom was supposed to bid on it. She forgot, and someone else got it. I was devastated. Fortunately, another one popped up shortly, and I made damn sure I won it. The Stromile Swift bobblehead was associated with all kinds of superstitions. I selected a special spot on my desk where it had to stay on game days, and during games I would bobble its head when Stro made a basket. I could not watch a Stromile Swift game without my Stromile Swift bobblehead. I actually brought it with me to the arena on multiple occasions when I was watching him play live. I never said I’m not crazy.
“LSU” basketball card
What: Upper Deck SP card featuring Tyrus Thomas, Stromile Swift, and Shaquille O’Neal.
Why: Tyrus, Shaq, and Stro–the NBA’s LSU representatives, minus that dipsh!t Big Baby. The card comes complete with three smidgens of game-worn material. I’ve got a whole bunch of basketball cards, but this one is a personal favorite. I included another favorite in the photo… it’s nothin’ special, just a basic card… but I like how Stro was rocking his jersey backwards.
Carmelo Anthony snow globe
What: The coolest goddamn snow globe I’ve ever seen.
Why: The more unusual the item, the more I like it. I had to have this. Carmelo was one of my favorite players when he was a Denver Nugget, too.
Quentin Richardson’s Air Jordans
What: A pair of player exclusives made for Q-Rich when he was a member of the Knicks.
Why: I admired Q-Rich because he was a hip-hop era icon. He was Darius Miles’ counterpart on the legendary Clippers teams of the the early 2000s, and there was once a time where he dunked as often as he launched a three-pointer. I was also a fan of Isiah Thomas’s Knicks (yeah, you heard me), so of course I had to have the man’s sneakers. Size 15 in case you were wondering.
Stadium giveaway “We Believe” shirt
What: One of the t-shirts given out to Warrior fans at Oracle Arena during the first round of the ’07 playoffs.
Why: As I’ve told you 563 times, the ’06/07 Warriors were my favorite basketball team ever assembled. This may as well have been their jersey, and it’s easily the greatest item ever to be handed out at an NBA game. I think I spent like 40 or 50 bucks on this… it was worth every penny.
Tim Thomas’s left shoe
What: One half of a pair of TT’s player exclusives from his time with the Knicks.
Why: Tim Thomas underachieved, wore two headbands at the same time, and arrogantly dominated during an exciting ’06 postseason run with the Phoenix Suns. All of that sh!t is right up my alley.
Assorted Stromile Swift jerseys
What: Five sevenths of my Stromile Swift jersey collection.
Where: Various sources. NBA auctions, game-worn memorabilia sites, etc.
Why: It says “Swift” on it? I’ve gotta have it. The Suns, blue Grizzlies, and Nets versions are all game-worn. The Grizzlies one has different colors on the sides because it was used in one of those Europe Live preseason games. The Nets one can be seen in this video…
The white Grizzlies one was autographed in person the first time I met the Stro Show. He was walking off the court halfway across the arena when he stopped to sign a few autographs. I exploded up off my seat, ran right by four or five security guards, and pushed through a crowd of Celtic fans in order to get close enough to hand him a marker. I wouldn’t sell that jersey for a million dollars… not that it’ll ever come to that. I doubt that it could fetch 15 bucks.
Fleet Center napkin signed by Walter McCarty
What: I LOVE WALTAH!
Where: Outside of the Fleet Center.
Why: It was either the first or second NBA game I ever attended… I was probably about 13 years old. My dad and I were walking back to the parking garage when we noticed a gathering of people. They were all crowded around a break in the fence that surrounded what is now the TD Banknorth Garden. I realized that it was where the Celtic players were leaving the building, and due to my fascination with fancy cars and big rims, I obviously wanted to stay and watch… despite the fact that it was late at night in the middle of the winter. All the players left without stopping, but I was pretty thrilled anyway. It was cool to see professional athletes up close and off duty. My dad and I were about to leave when a V12 Mercedes pulled up. The window rolled down, and Walter McCarty was inside. He signed a notepad for the only other kid that was still around, and then I handed him a napkin. It was the only thing I had on me. The fact that the autograph was on a napkin didn’t matter to the 13-year old me. I was thrilled. Thank you, Walter.
My NBA collection is probably worth a fraction of what I paid for it, and that’s what I love about it. I’d get more props if I had one Kobe jersey instead of seven Stromile Swift jerseys, and I might even be able to consider such an item an investment… but I don’t like Kobe, and I don’t want his jersey. My collection is personalized. I’ve seen bigger, better, more expensive sports collections, but I think mine is one of the most unique.
If you want to see more of my NBA stuff, leave a comment. I’ve got plenty of other things that I could photograph. I’ve got the stories that go along with everything, too. Do you have interesting NBA stuff of your own? E-mail me a photo at firstname.lastname@example.org.