After close to a decade without NBA card sets, the 1969-70 Topps basketball cards arrived with more players and a larger size. The 99 cards in the set measure 2 1/2 inches by 4 11/16 inches and were no doubt a play by Topps on the increasing size of pro basketball players.
Thanks to that irregular size, white borders and other factors, the ’69-70 Topps cards are hard to find in high grade. In fact, the best known PSA graded set sold in the summer of 2012 for over $230,000! However, it’s virtually impossible to complete a set in mint/gem mint. Higher graded examples, with rare exception, are not cheap. Your best bet might be to shoot for a ‘7’ type quality set; near mint and very attractive but not necessarily ‘investment’ quality.
In addition to the Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) rookie card, which sells for hundreds of dollars in mid-grade and thousands at the NM/MT or Mint levels, you’ll find numerous other rookie cards, thanks to it being the first basketball card set issued in eight years.
The Knicks were winning during the early 1970s with Willis Reed, Walt Frazier and Bill Bradley all appearing.
Dave Bing, Bill Bradley, Billy Cunningham, Dave DeBusschere, Connie Hawkins, Elvin Hayes, Jerry Lucas, Earl Monroe, Nate Thurmond and Wes Unseld have rookie cards in the 1969-70 set.
Other stars abound, too, including Wilt Chamberlain, whose card is tough to find in high grade. The final card in the set, a checklist, is next to impossible to locate without wear, centered and unchecked. It was in the lower right corner of the printing sheet, which consisted of 11 rows of 9 cards.
With white borders and its odd size, the set is hard to find in high grade but at 99 cards, it’s manageable. A goal might be to acquire cards in a 6.5-7 range that are attractive looking but won’t cost an arm and a leg.
Something that collectors may be starting to look for more are the 1969-70 Topps Basketball Rulers. These one-per-pack inserts were cartoon representations of the star players, with their height designated on a ruler in a way which is reminiscent of the backs of the 1957-58 Topps cards.