The Topps Gallery card line was always a more artistic and abstract release since it’s inception in the late 1990s. Many of the images on the cards, across multiple sports, appeared to be painted, brushed or penciled and with its thick card stock, glassy finish and gold highlights served as something different at an attractive mid-level price point option for collectors.
The 1999-00 basketball release wasn’t exactly heavy on high end rookies with Elton Brand and Steve Francis leading the way, but one of the more aesthetically pleasing insert sets of the era, Gallery of Heroes, emerged from these artsy packs.
What the Gallery brand offered as far as an artistic experience, the Gallery of Heroes insert became a near religious experience.
The 10 card die cut set, painted into one in every 24 packs, showcased a multicolored stained glass background, reminiscent of a sunny Sunday morning in church.
The backdrop was accompanied by a thick black border and a die cut design featuring the words “Gallery of Heroes” in one of the upper corners of the card, a colorful in action shot of the player as well as a stained glass looking bar at the bottom of the card. Upon further inspection, the stained glass design doesn’t showcase any religious figures, but does have a basketball and part of the rim hidden in the background. As a cool added bonus, the colors of the stained glass match the team colors of the player on the card.
The card back acts as a reverse negative of the card front, player image, text and all.
The set opens with a beautiful card of Minnesota Timberwolves Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett. KG is found taking a deep breath as he’s getting ready to shoot a free throw in his classic blue Timberwolves gear.
The second card in the set features KG’s former teammate, Stephon Marbury, now a member of the New Jersey Nets. Steph is seen driving hard to the hole in a nice action shot.
Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant is found at card number three in GOH. The Mamba is seen in his purple Lakers jersey that really pops with the purples, yellows and other colors in the background. This season saw Kobe, along with Shaquille O’Neal, lead the Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA Championship.
Toronto Raptors all time great and slam dunk icon Vince Carter is found next up in the set. Vinsanity is seen going full speed down the court, dribbling the rock as if he’s ready to perform a slam dunk contest winning throw down at the hoop.
The Big Fundamental, a.k.a. Tim Duncan is the fifth card in the set. Duncan is seen grabbing a rebound high above his head in his white San Antonio Spurs gear.
“The Glove” Gary Payton is the sixth card in Gallery of Heroes. A member of the 2000 NBA First Team, Payton is seen intently dribbling the ball down court, looking to dish or finish at the rim.
The Boston Celtics young do-it-all Antoine Walker is next on the checklist. Walker is seen in his classic green Celtics uniform looking to dish the ball to a teammate.
The Sacramento Kings versatile big man Chris Webber is the eighth card in the offering. C-Webb is sporting one of my personal favorite uniforms of the time, the purple, black and silver combo of the Kings.
The ninth card in the set features Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning. The 1999-00 NBA Defensive Player of the Year is seen on his card running up court, looking less than pleased about something that happened at the other end of the floor.
The Utah Jazz Mailman Karl Malone is the tenth card and final card in GOH. Malone is seen laying the ball in near the rim in his white Utah Jazz gamer. The soft blues and the whites of the Jazz jersey and the backdrop really lightened up this card.
This is one of those classic sets of cards where you have to have them in your hand it’s really appreciate them. To have one in your own mitts and hold it up in the light, especially the sun light, does make for a darn near out of body experience.
As far as pricing, GOH is far from out of body, as many of the lesser hobby stars go for 10 bucks or less while the Kobe Bryant sells for around $200 in mint condition. A PSA 10 Kobe sold for nearly $400 at the end of August. You can check out eBay’s current inventory here.
Overall, these are very affordable, high end looking cards. Coming in a product from a season that closed out and opened up an entirely new millennium, Gallery of Heroes is among the more interesting basketball insert sets from an era that had plenty of them.
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.