Steve Nash Rookie Cards
The 1996-97 NBA Draft produced many all-time greats. Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, just to name a few. We can also add Steve Nash better known as “Nashty” to that list due to his amazing ability to pass the ball.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa and raised in Victoria, Canada Steve Nash grew up playing hockey and soccer but fell in love with basketball at the age of thirteen. When it came to college he only received one scholarship offer from Santa Clara and he pounced on the chance even though he admittedly never heard of them. He was grateful for coach Dick Davey who taught him mental toughness, an attribute he admits he needed.
He was drafted 15th in the overall pick by the Phoenix Suns and is a bonified Point Guard that can shoot the rock and is one of those passers that brought the wow factor to all who watched. Five times he led the league in assist and is ranked 3rd for Career Leaders in Assist, trailing only John Stockton and Jason Kidd.
Another stat worthy of mention, Nash has the highest free throw percentage at 90.43% respectively. Something that impressed me about Nash came in his enshrinement speech. With all sincerity his first thank you was given to the fans. It’s because of the fans that the beautiful sport of basketball has been taken to the global level, says Nash.
He played 10 seasons with the Phoenix Suns, 6 seasons with the Mavericks and 2 seasons with the Lakers. His career percentage averages are Points 14.3 | Assist 8.5 | Field Goals 49.0 | Field Goals 3 Pointers 42.8 | Free Throws 90.4
His career accomplishments include 8x All-Star | 5x Assist Champion | 7x All-NBA | 2x MVP.
ROOKIE CARDS OF ALL-TIME GREAT
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1996-97 Bowman’s Best, Card No. R18 shop ebay
The inaugural year for Bowman’s Best was a complete success, with a short 125 card checklist and a great rookie class, it proved to be one of the premium products of the year. Cards were made on quality card stock. Rookies are outlined in silver foil with gold highlights and banners which make this one beautiful card. The card back is well thought out and balanced giving us everything a card back should have; photo, player bio, stats, commentary.
But the real awesomeness of this product lies in its parallels, there are two of them. Refractors 1:12 packs and the popular Atomic Refractors inserted 1:24 packs and are a hobby favorite among collectors today.
1996-97 Collector’s Choice, Card No. #310 shop ebay
The budget-friendly Collector’s Choice seems to be a forgotten product. Made of thin paper stock it seemed to be a product designed for kids and oftentimes insert themes were kid related. Background for rookie cards appears very dark so the white borders help balance things out. Great action photo in the front and portrait photo in the back. Full NCAA stats and commentary towards the bottom of card and player bio at the top. There are no parallels to speak of in this product.
1996-97 Finest, Card No. 75 shop ebay
One of the most dynamic sets created by Topps because of its three-tier base set layout. Allow me to try and peel this onion. First, let me say, I am only looking at Series 1 (cards #1-146) breakdown because it’s the series with our keynote rookie in it. Cards 1-100 are the Bronze theme, also known as “Common.” Cards 101-128 are known as the Silver theme or “Uncommon.” And cards 129-146 are the Gold theme, also known as “Rare.” Depending on the player, card fronts were branded with either the word Apprentices, Gladiators, Sterling or Maestros which is Spanish for Masters.
Silvers and Golds can be considered short-prints by today’s standards because they were inserted at a rate of 1:4 and 1:24 packs, respectively. Here’s where it gets good. All three-tiers have refractor parallels to them. Bronze Refractors 1:12 packs, Silver Refractors 1:48 and Gold Refractors were inserted 1:288 packs.
Card stock is quality, premium product for sure. Card design is pretty creative with Mr. Nashty looking like he’s ripping through a metal wall. Brown borders were nice but are a challenge to find nice centered copies. Card back has everything that it should but recycling the photo from card front doesn’t do it for me. Overall, a product for the ages!
1996-97 Fleer, Card No. 239 shop ebay
This 300 card set was split up into two series of 150 cards in each. If you want the rookie cards from this set you’ll want to focus on Series 2 packs because that’s the only way you’ll see rookies, Series 1 has no rookies in it. Borderless, full photography on thin paper stock allows for lots of damage to edges and corners so be sure to handle with care. Not my favorite photograph on this one. I see more of Mr. Reeves, which literally takes up half the card front than I actually do of Mr. Nashty. Card back has somewhat of a nice design but lacks in player commentary and what strikes me odd is it appears that they had plenty of room for that.
There are no parallels for this set but Fleer did produce a European set this same year. In fact, they went international with this set but only the wrappers and boxes had any difference in language, the cards themselves were identical to the American version in every way. However, Series 2 cards have different numbering. Steve Nash in the European set is card number 269!
1996-97 Hoops, Card No. 304 shop ebay
Similar to the Fleer set Skybox released the popular Hoops brand. Great action photo, no borders on thin paper stock. The biggest difference is the foil. Name at the bottom and the rookie emblem on top is a gold foil. Card back offers everything it should have but lacks in eye appeal. Perhaps leaving half the card back in all-white gives it a generic look. No parallels in this one either.
1996-97 Metal, Card No. 138 shop ebay
The Metal brand premiered the previous season, it was a hit within the hobby and it didn’t fail to deliver with this set either. The overall theme of getting cards to look like metal had been attempted within insert sets but never been done with a complete base set, so the concept drew you in. The result? As you can see a great looking rookie card of our featured Hall of Famer. Capturing Nash on Draft Day, the silver foil background and the Fresh Foundation theme really dress’ this card up for success. Check out the back! A big thumbs up, with a big old smile and that big old Motorola flip phone. I love it, even though it lacks player bio and stats. There are no parallels for this card.
1996-97 SkyBox Premium, Card No. 91 shop ebay
Skybox offered collectors this premium product which took off in popularity due to its Autographics insert set. The base set featured all the relevant rookie cards but for whatever reason, none of them indicates that. Nowhere does it show prospects, rookie, apprentice, etc. I guess they assume that everyone will know who the rookies are. You do get a nice two-tone canvas background and a great photo of Nash looking like he’s on the prowl to pass the ball. Card back has nothing to brag about and there appears to be plenty of room for stats. There is one parallel, Rubies were inserted 1 per box and basically feature red foil anywhere you see gold foil, they are not serial numbered.
1996-97 SP, Card No. 14 shop ebay
This beautiful premium product released by Upper Deck is underrated in my opinion. Great card stock but the blue borders can chip easily making it challenging to find clean copies. Great portrait photography, big bold lettering and that handsome SP brand logo at the upper right-hand side make this design clean, elegant and simple. More of the same on the card back giving collectors everything a good card back should have. There are no parallels to speak of in this one.
1996-97 Topps, Card No. 18 shop ebay
Topps base brand didn’t disappoint here. I always wondered if the photo gives us two rookies, point guard vs point guard, doesn’t that look like Allen Iverson? He was also a rookie in 1996. Obviously, great photo here as Mr. Nash brings the ball down the court and appears to be sizing up his opponent. They did a great job with the card back as well and shows the all-time free throw percentage leader at the line. One parallel to speak of, NBA at 50 is stamped on each card front and has a silverish front to them.
1996-97 Topps Chrome, Card No. 18 shop ebay
This is the debut year for Topps Chrome and is by far the headliner set for the 1996-97 season. To this day these cards carry a premium due to their demand. It was a retail-only product and mimics the regular Topps set entirely. The chromium technology makes the card stock much sturdier. One parallel does exist for this product, the extremely popular, Refractor was inserted 1:12 packs.
1996-97 UD3, Card No. 15 shop ebay
There are only 60 cards to this set but Upper Decks UD3 takes the award for most creative! Hardwood Prospects, which is cards 1-20 in the set, has that wood look to its front and back. Photo is encased in what appears to be a basketball court which is just genius. A different photo was inserted on the back along with stats and commentary. Overall, a design for the ages. There are no parallels in this set.
1996-97 Ultra, Card No. 87 shop ebay
Borderless, full action photo printed on great card stock is what you get with the Ultra brand. The player and team names are combined in a highlighted swoosh. Card back gives two photos, full college stats, and player bio. These are known for chipping especially on the back of the card. Parallels include Gold Medallion which features gold foil where player and team names are and inserted 1:12 packs. Platinum Medallion is inserted 1:100 packs.
1996-97 Upper Deck, Card No. 280 shop ebay
Lots of personality coming through on this one. Nash an avid hockey player in his youth is shown here with his basketball uniform along with skates and a hockey stick, instead of a puck we see a basketball. Great photo, card design, and card stock. The back of the card is exceptional as well. A photo of Nash doing a no-look pass and clouds for a backdrop. Full player stats, bio, commentary and college highlights. A fantastic card! No parallels.
1996-97 Z-Force, Card No. 158 shop ebay
A “Z Force” is a physics term and basically means an axial force. In other words, the line about which a rotating body, such as the earth turns. You can see the Z Force pictured around Steve Nash’s waist on the card front. The card front also signifies an explosion of some sort, big bold font, and the same rookie emblem that Skybox used in its Hoops product. The card back really does not go well with the card front. Is that a warped hardwood floor or a banner? It seems like “forced” creativity that fell a bit short for the card back. There are no parallels in this product.
Happy Collecting, Collectors
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Steve Nash Stats | Basketball-Reference.com https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/n/nashst01.html (accessed October 18, 2019).