Rookie Cards of Kevin Garnett – The Fresh Prince of Chicago
With the 5th Pick of the 1995 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Kevin Garnett from the Farragut Academy in Chicago. This NBA Hall of Famer has 15 official rookie cards with 8 rookie parallels, let’s take a look at them and his intense career.
The Dawn of a New Era
The three NBA seasons between 1994-1997 are often viewed as the dawn of a new era. It was the years of transition as the current greats like Jordan, Barkley, Malone, etc. were the veterans entering the back half of their careers. It was obvious that a new generation of stars was emerging. Guys like Kidd, Hill, Kobe, AI were among them.
Kevin Garnett was in the middle of that star talent and would not be denied.
The Fresh Prince of Chicago
The story of Kevin Garnett starts off sounding very similar to the television sitcom Will Smith starred in the ’90s, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. KG was raised in Greenville, South Carolina. In the summer before his senior year of high school, his mother shipped him to Chicago to live with his sister because there were some neighborhood troubles and his mother didn’t want him to become a target.
Key Component to Kevin Garnett’s Success
In one word. INTENSITY, which means great energy, strength, and concentration. KG agrees with this description about his game but claims that most people don’t realize all that’s involved with that. “Nobody sees the daily pre-practice routines, the three-hour practices with teammates coming at you fighting for game time minutes, and the post-practice workouts where you fine-tune your game working on the little things that make a huge difference,” says Garnett.
Celtic team mate Paul Pierce described it this way to ESPN, “his intensity was always there… to see him play you might think that all that explosive effort and energy had to come from some dark place, that it reflected deep animosity or anger, but we know that basketball was joy to Kevin Garnett.“
About his extreme intensity KG says, “There’s no reason for giving your opponent ground. If you can’t handle it, get off the court.” Garnett frustrated his opponents. His job was to stop them from scoring not to become friends. He’s been criticized for this intensity, some have said that his intensity blurred the lines for him. To that KG responded, “It’s nothing personal, it’s just how I play the game.”
Kevin Garnett’s Career Numbers & Accomplishments
Per Game Averages: Points 17.8 | Rebounds 10 | Assist 3.7
Career Totals: Games 1,462 | NBA Total Points 26,067 (18th) | Blocks 2,037 | Assist 5,445 | Steals 1,859 | NBA Defensive Rebounds 11,453 (1st) | NBA Total Rebounds 14,662 (9th).
Career Accomplishments: 1995-96 Rookie of the Year | 2002 All-Star MVP | 15x All-Star | 12x All-Defensive | 9x All-NBA | 2007-08 NBA Champion and Defensive Player of the Year and 2020 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame-Inductee.
OFFICIAL ROOKIE CARDS OF
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Leading us off is Upper Deck’s budget-friendly offering. It’s a 410 card set split into two series. Garnett’s rookie card could be found in Series two packs. Card design is clean, nothing too flashy that would distract you from that great action photo of Garnett fighting off a defender. Photography on the card back is memorable as well. Overall, a great looking card.
There are three parallels, Player’s Club came one per pack. Players Club Platinum 1:35 packs, and Collector’s Choice International Japanese which was identical to this set in every aspect except for English with Japanese text where applicable.
The 1994 debut of E-XL was an absolute hit within the hobby. This encore set release was received with open arms by collectors too. Skybox delivered another hit with this wonderful design.
The almost psychedelic multi-colored background is supported by a large black border which is a matte finish leaving the card matted, it really frames out the design. It’s a small set at 100 cards so it is a single Series release. There is one parallel, E-XL Blue came one per pack and has a blue colored border instead of black.
The Topps Finest is considered the key rookie card of Kevin Garnett. It is the most desired rookie card by most collectors. The reasons? Well, card quality for starters. Also, the card design.
It is colorful, the smile on his face communicates happiness, and the gold and copper borders just makes this one pop. The set is split into two series with the rookie cards featured in Series One.
Interestingly enough Topps decided not to include the rookies within this set with the ever-popular refractor technology. Crazy I know but I’ll reiterate, cards #111-140 which feature the rookie cards were not produced with the refractor technology. With that said there are no parallels for this RC.
Flair is a 250 card set split up into two series. If you are looking for the rookie cards all 30 of them can be found in Series 2 packs including this one of Kevin Garnett. The cards have a much thicker card stock making them sturdy.
The only flaw in the design of this set is that its too dark, the background of the photos have been blackened out. Also, the card back lacks player bio and stats. There are no parallels.
Fleer is a 350 card set split up into two series. Rookie cards can be found in Series 2 packs. The set features four different card designs. This one shows borderless action photos with what appears to be a glitchy background.
A really special feature on the card front, one I’ve never seen before, the player bio is on the card front. Weight, height, date of birth, etc. all on the card front. It’s different and I like that. The design for the card back is nicely thought out as well. There are no parallels for this set.
A second psychedelic design released by Skybox. This one features a borderless action photo with a lovely palette of colors. The “Rookie” graffiti portion is a bit intense but for the culture of the day very fitting. The card back is equally as nice.
These are very affordable as the Hoops brand has always been easy on the wallet. There are 400 cards in this set and the rookie cards are found in Series 2 packs. There are no parallels.
In 1995 this Metal brand made its hobby world debut. As of the date of this post, there is a resurgence of the Metal products. They are white-hot and desired by collectors.
Borderless action photo with lots of foil on the card front. The back has some great features, a cutout name-plate complete with self-tapping screws I’m guessing. And a second smaller plate giving us player bio and commentary. It’s a 220 card set with rookies featured in Series 2 packs. There are no parallels for this rookie card.
Go ahead and get your sun-glasses, I’ll wait… Skybox Premium is a 301 card set split up into two series with rookie cards featured in Series 2 packs.
The card front is as bright as the sun and features Kevin Garnett going up for a rebound I’m guessing. The card back has a theme, Rookie Roadmap, and it features a global view that features the city of Minnesota. There are no parallels for this set.
Oddly enough this 1995 SP set has 167 cards. It is a single series release. This was a Hobby Exclusive product and the lone subset (cards 148-167), are the Premier Prospects and it features the rookie cards.
These have a different design from the rest of the set and are printed on thicker card stock. This is a high-end product with a high-end look and feels to it. There are no parallels for this set.
SP Championship is a small 146 card, single series set. This was a Retail only product and it offers a really nice card design. Full action photo on partial borders, the square text box with a portrait photo at the lower left side of the card reminds me of the 1984 Topps baseball a bit. The card back was well designed as well. There are no parallels.
Stadium Club is a 361 card set split into two series and the rookie cards are featured in Series 2 packs. Game action, aperture photo, with a silver/blue foil ribbon across the bottom of the card along with the Draft Picks logo.
The card back design is fantastic! They zoomed in on the draft logo, a portrait photo of Kevin and all the essentials of a good card back. There are no parallels for this set.
The beloved Topps brand is a 291 card set split into two series with the rookies available in Series Two packs.
The photo shows Kevin Garnett playing defense and it sits on white borders. Gold foil lettering at the lower half of the card is well designed and it includes an NBA Draft Pick logo. The card back is well designed as well giving us everything a card back should have. There are no parallels in this set.
This small 144 card set is a single series Hobby Only product. It has a thicker card stock to it and high gloss making the card pop. One negative would be, lots of dark edges making mint copies challenging to find.
There is one parallel to this one, Players Private Issue and it came seeded 1:12 packs and was stamped with a silver holographic logo on the card front.
The 1995 Ultra brand is a 350 card set split into two series. Rookies are featured in Series Two packs. Fleer offered collectors a thicker card stock for the first time in the Ultra brand. Borderless action photo with an average card design.
Similar to the Skybox Premium it displays “ROOKIE” in very large font letters. There was one parallel for this set, Gold Medallion but since there was no hobby interest in Series One they canceled production of that parallel in Series Two, so this RC of Kevin Garnett does not have any parallels.
Finally, the Upper Deck brand offers collectors a 360 card set evenly divided up into two series. The rookie cards are featured in Series Two packs. Great action photos are used with KG scooping up a rebound on the front and enjoying a piece of bubble gum on the card back.
However, if there is a concern with this one, it should be on standard card thickness and lots of dark edges. Chipping of edges and dinged corners will stick out like a sore thumb. There are a couple of parallels in this set, Electric Court comes one per pack and Electric Court Gold comes 1:35 packs.
Happy Collecting, Collectors
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