1998-99 E-X Century Basketball Shows Off Revolutionary Design, Iconic Rookie Class, Sharp Inserts

1998-99 Skybox E-X Century easily stands as one of the most desirable, groundbreaking higher end card releases of the late 1990s.

The box packaging features Boston Celtics star Antoine Walker. The box art is a bright, over the top E-X Century logo with Walker dribbling the ball down court. The background is a design of multiple colored basketballs with all the text and wording you would imagine, showing off what’s offered in the product.

Hobby boxes consist of 18 packs with three cards per pack. The base set wasn’t a big one: just 30 rookies and 60 veteran players.

The base card design is considered one of the most attractive of the decade and is arguably, one of the best of the modern era. It features a clear acetate card base with a swooping team colored half circle covering half the card, a raised die cut action shot of the player with the player’s last name in big letters running top to bottom and their first name in smaller letters to the right hand side.

The E-X Century and Skybox logos are featured as well as a die cut version of the team logo in a smaller font.

 

 

The cards are busy but not too busy. E-X is ’90s but not too ’90s. The design is pulled off about as flawlessly as can be imagined.

Oxidation is one glaring problem with this particular product. For all good E-X offers in design, artistry and just flat out coolness, the cards are prone to yellowing and creating an almost gold looking acetate. 

As beautiful as the cards are, you have to be careful in handling them as they are die cut and have different layers of thickness, which makes it easy to nick, scrape, scratch and otherwise scuff them. Handle them as if you had the ball with a two point lead and five seconds left on the clock.

 

The rookie class is one for the record books as a features Toronto Raptors high flyer Vince Carter, Dallas Mavericks iconic forward Dirk Nowitzki Boston Celtics Hall of Famer Paul Pierce, young Kings of Sacramento in Jason Williams and Peja Stojakovic and a number of college superstars that fashioned solid careers in the league including Mike Bibby and Antawn Jamison. Even Carter’s base rookie card is a fantastic image from above of him dunking. His North Carolina teammate Antawn Jamison has a very similar pose in his base rookie. There are two sequentially numbered parallel sets: Essential Credentials Now and Essential Credentials Future.

Now, a cement colored design parallel to the base set, features a serial numbering system matching the base card number so card number one of Keith Van Horn has a serial number of one or a one of one, in essence, while card number 90, Larry Hughes, has a serial number of 90 copies produced.

Future, a big, thick gold parallel of the base set, features the 90 card set with a serial numbering opposite of the actual base card number. For instance, again, card number 1 Keith Van Horn, is serial numbered to 90 while card number 90, Larry Hughes, is serial numbered to just 1. 

Vince Carter was card number 89, so there are two serial numbered copies of his rookie year card in this set.

There are some noteworthy, and in some cases groundbreaking, insert sets featured in E-X.

The 15 card Generation E-X set, found one in 18 packs, features some of the best young up and coming superstars of the game. As far as design, there is a large black border with a piece of clear acetate in the center of the card and a die cut team logo on which the featured player overlaps. These cards really pop.

 

There is some funky text at the bottom that features the player’s name and team. The card back offers a “hip” direct message to the player featured on the front. A who’s who of young stars are featured, including Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and more.

What started as a very fun play on words produced a legendary insert set called Dunk N’ Go-Nuts. Found one in 36 packs on average, this set is a clever play on the legendary donut (and coffee) chain by a similar name. It took on a life of its own and became a cult favorite and now a mainstream crossover success. The insert set that may have you wanting to stop in a drive through on your way to work tomorrow offers some of the biggest names in basketball including Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan and, of course, Michael Jordan. 

The design of the card follows the base set and as that a large part of it is a clear acetate the words Dunk N’ Go-Nuts are in the same font as the donut shop. Generally, all the pictures of the players feature them, as you could imagine, dunking the basketball. It’s a great set that is fun, unique and in some cases incredibly valuable.

A PSA 9 Jordan recently sold for over $3,000. Overall,  prices vary, of course, based on player and grade, but they’re among the most popular ’90s basketball inserts.

The 12 card groundbreaking Authen-Kicks set is a hand numbered insert set that was one of the first card sets to feature player’s signature game worn sneakers on cardboard. The horizontally designed cards feature an action image of the player with the sole of a shoe as the backdrop and a small, oval swatch of the featured players game worn sneaker.

This insert is a hit on many levels- from card collectors to sneaker heads to culture collectors. The checklist is a bit hit and miss but you can find superstars such as Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady included. As a special bonus there is an autographed version of Keith Van Horn’s card serial numbered to just 44 copies- his jersey number at the time.

Autographics autographed cards can also be found in this product at a surprisingly reasonable one in 18 per pack clip. Offered across a number of product lines including Hoops, Metal Universe, Skybox E-X Century, Skybox Molten Metal, Skybox Premium and even Skybox Thunder, they all share one single design and checklist. The cards feature on card autos with a notary like raised Skybox seal of authentication which adds to the uniqueness of the set.

There are a handful of stars included in the 139 card group but the real standouts are the rookie year autographed cards where you can find one of only a very limited number of players like Carter, Jason Williams and others. These are some of the most valuable and significant rookie year cards of these players.  There are plenty of lesser lights on the checklist, too that can be had for a buck or two. 

1998-99 E-X Century remains red hot on the secondary market. Sealed boxes continue to increase in value with only a limited number available online. 

The 1998-99 version of E-X Century continues to appreciate and be appreciated by collectors who believe it stands the test of time and remains one of the bright spots in all of 1990s basketball card products.

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 @reidrattlecage on all social media platforms.

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