After the NBA All-Star break for the 1993-94 NBA basketball season, Upper Deck released a product titled Upper Deck Special Edition, or SE as it is better known, with a 225-card set that offered a number of fun inserts, the classic (but short lived) Electric Court parallels and, of course, the iconic Johnny Kilroy and Michael Jordan press conference/baseball card inserts.
One of the more eye catching insert sets was the Eastern and Western Conference All-Star Die Cuts.
The 30-card insert set spotlighted current and potential future All-Stars. Although some see it as a single set, it was actually two separate 15- card sets, with distribution based on the two distinct conferences and coasts.
The cards were available in East Hobby packs and West Hobby packs with the corresponding All Star insert set in each set of packs. Generally speaking, hobby shop owners and dealers on the East Coast received cases containing players from the Eastern Conference and, in turn, dealers on the West Coast received the West Coast cases that held the West Coast All-Stars.
They feature a gold foil border at the top of the card that features the words “Future NBA All-Star” for players who hadn’t made an All Star team or the amount of All Star game appearances by veterans who had been honored with AS nods. There’s a full color, in-action player shot in the center of the card and the player’s name and team name appear in red vertical lettering along the left hand side of the card.
The overall and underlying design of the die cut cards is that of a basketball key from an aerial view. At the very bottom of the card you will find the backboard and hoop coming up coming from the bottom of the card. You will find, in Hubie Brown’s words, the painted area, as well as the top of the key as the gold foil, die-cut portion of the card. A foil Upper Deck logo as well as a foil star logo are featured in the bottom corners of the card.
The card backs were interesting in that they offered insight from the current year due to the fact that the set was released after the All-Star break. There were actually some card backs offering All-Star Game highlights, making the set and the notes very timely.
The 15-card Eastern Conference All-Star checklist features Orlando Magic center Shaquille O’Neal, a rookie year card of his teammate Anfernee Hardaway, New York Knicks star Patrick Ewing, Chicago Bulls forward Scottie Pippen, his teammate sharpshooter B.J. Armstrong, Atlanta Hawks high flyer Dominique Wilkins, Charlotte Hornets center Alonzo Mourning and others.
As mentioned earlier, the sets feature All- Stars and a few young players that are predicted as future all stars. Upper Deck clearly hit the nail on the head with the likes of Penny Hardaway in the East Coast but were not quite so accurate with Philadelphia 76ers towering center Shawn Bradley and Washington Bullets guard Calbert Cheaney. Harold Miner was included in the set, too, and although he never made an All Star team, he made his mark in multiple Slam Dunk Contests during All-Star weekend, which was even noted on the back of this particular card.
The Western Conference All-Star team was was a solid one that included all time great Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon, all time great Power Forward and then Phoenix Sun MVP candidate Charles Barkley, Portland Trail Blazers Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler, San Antonio Spurs all time great Center David Robinson, the Utah Jazz Power Forward for the ages Karl Malone, Seattle Supersonics high flyer Shawn Kemp, among others. There was a nice rookie year card of Golden State Warriors number one overall pick Chris Webber included as well.
For all of the great players included in the set the one glaring absence is Michael Jordan, who was in the middle of his year and a half long retirement from the NBA. Obviously this was no fault of Upper Deck or anyone else involved in the set selection.
Major stars such as O’Neal, Hardaway and Webber may command around $50 in raw form while most of the rest of the singles in the set can be found for no more than $10 and some change, individually.
Aside from the absence of Jordan, this is one of my personal favorite inserts sets from the era. The look and feel screamed quality and high end at the time and the gold die-cut was all the rage in that time period. This insert set still stands the test of time as one of the more aesthetically pleasing sets from all of 1990s basketball offerings.
About Tony Reid
From the time he was a little kid, Tony has been a huge sports fan. If he could play sports, watch sports and talk about sports it was a great day. From as early as he was drawn to sports, Tony was drawn to collecting sports cards. Not much has changed over the years. He collects RCs of star players in baseball, basketball and football. He also has a soft spot for first autographs of MMA stars. If you want to talk to Tony about the greatness of Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson or Ken Griffey, Jr. you can reach him at [email protected] and @OffCenterTR on social media.