Fleer elevated its presence in the new upper echelon side of the card game with its Flair line during the 1990s.
The thick cards came in a little box, not a pack. While the base cards were the stars, they kept the insert concept and one of the more memorable issues was the 1994-95 Flair Center Spotlight set.
Big men were an integral part of the game in this seemingly bygone era, as most offenses (and defenses) ran through the giants in the paint. In just one of a number of insert sets card companies trotted out to honor them, Fleer kept the roster short but the odds a bit long. The six card set was randomly inserted one in every 25 Series 1 packs.
With an eye-catching full etched foil design, a full color action photo, a foil spotlight and three speckled shadows of the featured player in the background, the big men of the NBA truly looked to be on the big stage.
As with most Flair cards you will find the year and the Flair logo in a nice, cursive gold foil at the top of the card and you will find the Center Spotlight text and the player’s name at the bottom of the card. Although the cards have a colorful foil and multiple bright colors, this set is still somewhat subdued and very smooth looking.
Having New York Knicks center Patrick Ewing as the first card in a set featuring the premiere centers of the game is a great place to start. Ewing is seen in his classic Knick’s white uniform and is equally classic knee pads, grabbing one of his 11,000 plus career rebounds away from the rim.
The card backs lack any foil as they have a white backdrop with a fairly extensive text describing what makes the player an effective big man.
Charlotte Hornets center Alonzo Mourning is featured in the second spotlight. Zo is also found ripping a rebound down with both hands. His ferocious style of play, on both sides of the court, made him a Basketball Hall of Famer.
Houston Rockets Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon is the third card in the spotlight. Quite possibly the most well rounded center of his generation, The Dream is getting ready to raise up and use his signature touch near the rim.
Hakeem and the Houston Rockets captured their second straight NBA championship in 1994-95 due, in part, to Michael Jordan’s absence.
Everything that Hakeem was as far as touch and finesse, Shaquille O’Neal was with brute force and sheer power and his featured in the fourth spotlight slot. Shaq is seen in his classic Orlando Magic black pinstripe uniform posted up in the paint, with the ball raised up in his right hand, ready to shoot, pass or slam.
O’Neal led the league in scoring that season with a 29.3 points per game average and was, quite possibly, the biggest attraction in the league.
The Admiral is found at the fifth spotlight. San Antonio Spurs all time great center David Robinson was also one of the more complete big men of the era.
The big, muscular 7 footer was a perennial all star and MVP candidate, an award that Robinson won that very season.
The final card in the set features the youngest cat on the playbill in Golden State Warriors Rookie of the Year center Chris Webber. The sub sevent foot power forward/center was so physically gifted he could bring the ball up the floor like a point, make an amazing behind the back pass or ferociously dunk the ball through the rim with the best of the bigs.
C-Webb was on his way to being a positionless player before that was even a thing.
Now to the finances. Complete six card raw sets usually sell for no more than $30-$40 as each card individually can be purchased for a few bucks.
There are very few PSA 10 graded copies of any of the six cards in this set. There are 21 PSA Gem Mints in total, with 15 of those being the popular Shaquille O’Neal card. So, there is definitely rarity and value when we talk in terms of high graded copies.
The 1994-95 Flair Center Spotlight set is a solid example of what an insert set looks like in a premium product in the mid-90s. Thick card stock, a glossy finish, a lot of gold and a lot of foil. In a world where higher end products are commonplace, this one has stood the test of time.
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 @tonyreidwrites on social media.