1996-97 Skybox Z-Force Big Man on Court Becomes Big Insert in Hobby

The 1996-97 Skybox Z-Force Basketball set debuted with 200 base cards with the first series carrying 100 cards and series 2 offering up the second batch of 100 cards. The iconic rookie class from that season stands the test of time as one of, if not the, greatest of all time. Iverson, Bryant, Allen, Nash, Marbury, the list goes on and on.

The Zs are heavy in inserts in this one, and Series 2 Z-Force houses one of the greatest insert sets of the era in Big Man on Court. Before we go any further there has been some debate or discrepancy whether the set is Big Man on Court or Big Men on Court. Beckett’s site and slabs list the set as ‘Big Man’ while PSA slabs state ‘Big Men’. There’s one quick way to settle this debate. Simply look at Grant Hill, the third card in the set and you can see the “a” in Man in the background.

You can also make out the ‘a’ on Anfernee Hardaway, Shawn Kemp and Alonzo Mourning’s cards.

Another piece of controversy or drama is the fact that BGS graded a flood of fakes of the BMOC’s in years past and again in recent years. You definitely want to do your homework and talk to an expert if you’re buying one of the BMOCs in a Beckett slab.

These incredibly tough beauties were randomly inserted in Series 2 packs of Skybox Z-Force at an incredibly tough rate of one in every 240 packs. If you were ripping packs and trying to find any one player in this set you would have to rip upwards of 3,000 packs or more, on average. Lord be with you if you are taking that route.

As if that wasn’t tough enough for you, each card also has an extremely limited and extremely condition sensitive Z-Peat foil version, found one in an astounding 1,120 packs.

The 10 card set features some of the some of the biggest men on the NBA court in 1996, literally and figuratively.

Three of the four sides of these crazy pieces of cardboard have a deep die cut design. The backdrop of a card reads “big man on court” in all lower case letters in a very 1990s font. The word ‘big’ is a bold red with an orange outline and and the other three words ‘man on court’ are in light blue with a similar outline. There is a full color action shot of the player in the foreground with the player’s name and the Skybox Z-Force logo and foil In one of the lower corners of the card. The BMOCs are definitely eye catching and unique even by late 90s card standards.  

The card backs, being die-cut due to the front design, offered the same difficult corners and edges. The design color is light shades of green, yellow and the blue found on the front. There is a color shot of the player and a small paragraph detailing what, in fact, makes these guys the big man on court.

The Round Mound of Rebound leads off the set as Charles Barkley is card number one. Chuck is  dribbling the ball in his left hand in his Houston Rockets gear looking to make a pass or another big play.

The second card in the set features Orlando Magic superstar point guard Anfernee Hardaway. Penny is seen pulling up for a jumper in his classic white pinstriped Magic uniform. The picture on the card back is identical to the one on the front in this particular case.

Hill, still a youthful player with the Pistons is the third card in the set. Hill is seen taking a fade away jumper over Mookie Blaylock. This was the aforementioned card that clearly shows the name of the insert set in the background.

Chicago Bulls Mega star Michael Jordan is the fourth card in the set. Jordan has his iconic road red Bulls uniform on, ball in his left hand as he is driving to the hoop. The card back shows Jordan in a intense defensive stance, so between the front and the back of the card collectors get both sides of the ball of Jordan’s ultimate greatness.

The fifth card in the set features Shawn Kemp. As evidenced by his inclusion in many big inserts sets of the era, Kemp was a huge star at the time and one of the most electrifying dunkers and finishers in the game.

Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning is featured as the sixth card in BMOC. A legit big man, Zo is featured taking a jump shot on the card front.

Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon is the seventh of 10 cards in the set. He looks to be in the middle of his classic Dream Shake, taking his defender to the hoop and to school at the same time.

Los Angeles Lakers big man Shaquille O’Neal is up next in the big man set. The card front features The Diesel driving the ball up court and his classic Lakers yellow while the image on the back shows the opposite Lakers purple jersey with Shaq posting up in the paint. This is as much of a no-brainer inclusion as any player in the set. 

The ninth out of 10 cards in the set is Chicago Bulls All Star forward Scottie Pippen, shown bringing the ball up the court in his left hand and handling the rock with his right on the card back.

In yet another great selection, San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson rounds out this 10 card set. The Admiral is found posting up his poor defender on the card front and again on the card back.

The Jordan card one of the most condition sensitive and sought after Jordan inserts on the planet. With its extreme level of die-cut on three of the four sides of the card, these are nearly impossible to find and high grade condition. There are only six PSA 10 examples and a mere 15 PSA 9 copies in existence. In all, there are only 27 total cards in the set and the parallel set that sit in a PSA 10 holder. Talk about tough.

Values depend heavily on grade, but expect to pay $1,500 and up for higher quality Jordan cards while some of the less popular singles in raw form can still be had for under $100 at times. There isn’t a lot of availability online but you can usually find a few dozen on eBay (check current inventory and pricing here).

Although the design of this inserts it may not be for everyone, it has grown to be one of the more substantial insert sets of the decade in stature, price and popularity. The set is chock full of superstars and future hall of famers and with the incredibly tough die cut design, it makes for the perfect storm of rare and high valued 1990s inserts.

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.

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