Kicks on Cards #1

OG Topps Basketball Bangers

Date: Mar 15, 2024
Author: Zack Schlemmer
Topics: Collecting, Kicks on Cards, Sneakers, Zack Schlemmer
Length: 759 Words
Reading Time: ~4 Minutes

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Kicks on Cards on Topps Ripped. Kicks on Cards seamlessly combines two of our favorite things to collect: trading cards and sneakers. 

The idea of spotting sneakers on sports cards is fun and, ok, maybe even somewhat silly, but cards are actually one of the best documents for the footwear athletes have been wearing throughout the years. Sure, you could click through hundreds of watermarked Getty Image photos or maybe dig up some dusty old issues of Sports Illustrated if you wanted to see what players were wearing in, say, 1996, but spotting Grant Hill in his signature FILAs on an old card is much more fun.

1996 Topps Basketball #199 Grant Hill. He’s sporting his Fila Grant Hill 3 signature shoe.

Of course, the sport most significant to sneaker culture is basketball, so in this series, you’ll naturally see mostly basketball cards, but we’ll have some other sports sprinkled in in future posts. To kick things off today (no pun intended), we’ve got an impressive five-pack of some of the best basketball sneaker sightings on classic Topps cards of years past. As you’ll see, I found plenty of heat on classic Topps basketball cards. Let’s get into it.

1998-99 Topps Basketball #68 Kobe Bryant // adidas KB8

Let’s begin with a young Kobe Bryant in his ’98 Topps card. And what a beauty of a card it is! Here we have Kobe going to the rim in his first signature shoe, the adidas KB 8, in a clean white and purple colorway. The KB8 is an all-time classic adidas hoops shoe, and it has been re-released many times in the years after Bryant left adidas, renamed the Crazy 8. As a bonus on this card, you get the Houston Rockets in their classic “Big Rocket” jerseys.

2000-01 Topps Basketball #120 Micheal Finley // Air Jordan 5 Retro “Laney”

This is a Michael Finley card, but we get two pairs of classic sneakers for the price of one. First up is Finley in the celebrated “Laney” colorway of the Air Jordan, released in 2000 as one of the first non-original looks for the model. The colorway in white, blue, and yellow is inspired by Michael Jordan’s high school colors at Laney in Wilmington, North Carolina. The “Laney” theme first appeared on this Jordan 5 and has since been used on many Air Jordan models. 

Guarding Finley is Jason Kidd, spotted in the Nike Air Flightposite. It’s hard to tell in this picture, but that’s one of Kidd’s Player Exclusive (PE) colorways of the Flightposite featuring a black and white upper with a purple outsole and his number “32” stitched on the tongue.

2003-04 Topps Basketball #176 Derek Anderson // Air Jordan 9 Low (shown above in the Retro Blue Pearl colorway)

Early-2000s era point guard Derek Anderson won’t exactly go down as a legend… unless we’re talking about his footwear! Anderson was an early Team Jordan member known for his many custom low-top Air Jordan Retro PEs. (Only Mike Bibby rivals him in the low-top Jordan PE game.) Here he is on his 2003-04 Topps card in one of his finest PEs, the Jordan 9 low featuring a white leather base, a glossy red patent leather mudguard, and chrome lace eyelets. Look closely in the bottom left corner, and you’ll also see Rasheed Wallace’s foot in one of his iconic Nike Air Force 1 PEs.

1997-98 Topps Finest Defenders #252 Eddie Jones // Nike Zoom Flight 95 OG Black Metallic Silver

We couldn’t get things started without a classic Topps Finest card, so here we have Eddie Jones in one of the greatest basketball shoes ever, the Nike Zoom Flight 95. This still-futuristic-looking sneaker is most closely associated with Jason Kidd, but a slew of other mid-’90s NBA players also wore them. (Shout out to Brent Barry in the ’96 dunk contest.) As you can see, few made the “bug-eyed” sneakers look better than Eddie.

1997-98 Topps Stadium Club #118 Michael Jordan // Air Jordan 11 Retro “Concord”

I saved the best for last. Closing this first pack of Kicks on Cards out is this beautiful ’97-98 Topps Stadium Club card featuring The GOAT himself skying for his memorable double-clutch reverse dunk versus the Miami Heat in ’96. On his feet are what many consider the GOAT basketball shoe, the Air Jordan 11 in the “Concord” colorway. Just look at those icy soles. Seriously, what a great card. 

Stay tuned to Topps Ripped for more Kicks on Cards.

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