The mid-1990s was a great time to be a basketball card collector.
Nearly every company with a license was pushing the envelope in technology, innovation and design with a variety of different sets. Insert sets were typically on the smallish side, but carried their own unique designs and concepts that kept collectors and dealers wondering what was coming next. Of course, it didn’t hurt that there were some exciting marquee superstars active at the time.
Skybox Emotion offered a new take on basketball cardboard, with an an up close, intimate depiction of those great athletes. As it intended, the set captured the emotions of the game.
One of the more attention grabbing releases was the 1994-95 Skybox Emotion N-Tense set. It’s a 10 card offering, with cards randomly inserted in every 18 packs (two per box).
The card backs feature two up close and personal images of the player from the front in action. The card number is found in the upper corner and the player’s last name is scrolled across the bottom. There are no bios, highlights or anything else to clutter it up. The backs look more like posters for a kids wall than a boring backside of a piece of cardboard.
One might assume with the super up close and personal pictures that Skybox was attempting to capture the emotion and intensity of these great athletes. Mission accomplished.
The 10-card set checklist is in alphabetical order and features Phoenix Suns forward Charles Barkley as card number 1. Barkley is seen laying the ball in with his left hand or possibly grabbing a rebound. One can’t quite be sure as the image is pretty tight. In fact, the one argument you could make against N-tense is that the cropping of photos was a bit too severe.
The second card in the set features New York Knicks Hall of Fame center Patrick Ewing. Again the image we are viewing is basically his upper body and the image is from the backside, so we see his classic number 33 jersey as he is reaching high above his head to snatch the ball out of the air. Very up close and personal–almost too close.
Michael Jordan is the third card in the set. MJ is found ready to make a two handed chest pass to a teammate. Interestingly enough, he is found in his Bulls number 45 jersey on the front and back, as he made his triumphant return from his short lived retirement in baseball career.
Powerful Seattle Supersonics forward Shawn Kemp is the fourth card in the set. His card may be the most impressive of them all, as the Reign Man is seen in nearly chest high to the rim as he throws one down with authority.
Utah Jazz Hall of Fame power forward Karl Malone is the fifth card in the group. The Mailman is seen gliding to the rim for one of his classic one handed jams.
One of the most intense players in the league is found at card number six. Charlotte Hornets center Alonzo Mourning is seen ripping a down a rebound. All we need is one of his patented bicep flexes.
Shaq Diesel is the seventh card in the set. O’Neal is seen in his Orlando Magic black pinstripe uni, raising up to throw down one of his signature two handed monster dunks. Thoughts and prayers for the rim and backboard.
Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon is next up in the set coming in a card number eight. The Dream’s card is rather unique as it looks as if part of his face and upper body may be airbrushed, which lends to a somewhat awkward looking one handed shot coming out of the Olajuwon’s right paw.
Keeping up with the center theme, San Antonio Spurs Hall of Famer David Robinson is card number nine in the 10 card set. The Admiral was seen mid air, bringing a rebound in with both hands. His card back (see above) may be the coolest as it shows him dunking in the foreground followed by a dunk in the opposite direction in the background.
The final card in the set is another Robinson: Milwaukee Bucks number one overall pick and super scorer Glenn. The Big Dog is seen intently looking upward off the card towards the ball, either finishing a shot off at the hoop or grabbing a rebound.
With the exception of his Airness, even the biggest stars in the set can be had for $30 or less raw. Jordan sells for about a $150 ungraded.
PSA 10 versions of the Jordan card sell anywhere between $600 and $800, on average. Mint graded MJ’s go for about $250. You can see the 1994-95 Skybox Emotion N-Tense cards listed on eBay right now here.
With this special special set Skybox truly did try to show the intense emotions of the league’s best players during an NBA game. The base set did a fantastic job of doing just that and this insert said is a shiny flashy, centerpiece example of the overall product.
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.