Amid the myriad of products that arrived during the era, 1993-94 Upper Deck SE (Special Edition), Basketball offered one of the more interesting sets from a photography angle. As you might have surmised by the title, every photograph featured comes from behind the clear Plexiglas of the backboard, bringing you closer to the action and at a higher altitude than ever before.
1993-94 Upper Deck Behind the Glass was a 15-card insert set distributed in 12-card retail packs at a rate of one in every 30 packs.
The border free front features a full color player action shot on a metallic finish somewhat comparable to the 1994 SP Baseball cards.
The player’s name and position appear in a thin box placed vertically on the right hand side of the card. A foil Upper Deck logo is found in one of the bottom corners.
The card backs feature an aerial shot of a team centric colored basketball hoop as the backdrop with a paragraph of text about the player from the front of the card.
On the right hand side there’s a small photo of the player, many of them dunking or flying high, and the BTG logo atop the pic. The team logo is found below the image.
There was a gold foil Behind the Glass trade card which was inserted in hobby packs a rate of 1 in 360 packs watch guaranteed the lucky collector who pulled it a full set of Behind the Glass.
This set focuses on many of the players who flew highest above the rim and card number one in the set definitely fits that bill as Seattle Sonics Super slam dunk sensation Shawn Kemp is seen throwing one down at the rim with his left hand in traffic. A great card to start off the set.
Patrick Ewing is found at the number two spot. The seven foot center is laying one in at the rim in his home white Knicks uniform.
Another former Georgetown center is found at the third card when Denver Nuggets center Dikembe Mutombo is featured laying one in at the rim. Who said the big man was only a shot blocker?
Charles Barkley, then toiling for the Phoenix Suns is found at card number four. Chuck is seen ball in both hands, eyes intently focused on the rim, ready to finish.
We stick with the big men as card number five features Houston Rockets Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon. The Dream is found raising up showing his patented soft touch, releasing the ball high above the rim over a helpless Tyrone Hill. Olajuwon was the league MVP and led the Rockets to an NBA title that season.
Charlotte Hornets forward Larry Johnson this next up as he is shown ready to violently throw the ball through the hole as we get the bird’s eye view just inches from the orange of the rim.
Superstar rookie Chris Webber is the seventh card in the set. This card captures the perfect moment as Webber finishes a one-handed flush at the rim. I imagined that Webber had just completed his highlight reel around the back move prior to throwing it down. The Golden State phenom was named NBA Rookie of the Year that season.
New York Knicks shooting guard John Starks is the eighth card in the set. Known primarily as an outside shooter and a high flyer on occasion, Starks is shown laying the ball in near the rim with his left hand.
One of the more energetic and powerful big man dunkers in the league, Atlanta Hawks Kevin Willis is next up in the set. In what might be the coolest image in the entire series, Willis is seen throwing the ball down emphatically with two hands with that high level of energy clearly displayed on his face. This is an especially intense card.
Chicago Bulls forward and team leader during Michael Jordan’s temporary retirement, Scottie Pippen, is found at the tenth card in the set. The perennial All Defensive Team member is seen getting ready to swat a shot away with his his left hand just inches from the rim.
Speaking of His Airness, the G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan, is the 11th card in the set. Although in the middle of his retirement, Jordan’s impact was still felt league wide and that included in basketball products especially anything put out by Upper Deck. The card features an aerial view of Jordan in his classic red Bulls uniform in his Jordan 8’s getting ready to dunk the ball at the rim. The picture looks as much like a Nike ad or a poster on a kid’s wall as it does an Upper Deck card. That is the biggest compliment I can give.
Charlotte Hornets young center Alonzo Mourning is the 12th card in the set. Zo is seen getting ready to flush a one handed jam at the rim.
In the center heavy set the 13th card features Shaquille O’Neal. Surprisingly, Shaq is not found dunking. He’s found releasing a floater in the paint.
The 14th card features the tallest player in the set and the league in Philadelphia 76ers center 7′ 6 Shawn Bradley. At the time, Bradley was a rookie with promise, as noted on the back of his card, he led all rookies with 3.25 blocks per game.
The final card in the set features Los Angeles Clippers Ron Harper. Harper was a poor man’s Jordan or maybe Clyde Drexler but he fashioned a very solid career in his own right. He has seen from an aerial view getting ready to hit an acrobatic reverse lay up at the rim.
Like many of the early 1990s Upper Deck SP foil cards, these guys are very condition sensitive. Buying raw is a crap shoot with a wide range of conditions and levels of wear. PSA 9 copies of the Jordan card command around $250 online. Good luck finding 10s, as there are only 33 in total but18 of those do happen to be the MJ card. That’s just a large part due to the sheer amount of Jordan’s graded as opposed to the other players.
In all, this was a very sharp and uniquely designed set with crisp imagery and poster-like pictures with the winning UD foil combination. It’s a very reasonable set to piece together raw and a serious challenge in high grade condition. See them for sale and auction on eBay here.
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.